Critical Thinking & Logic

Now that Introduction to Information Technology is out of the way… it’s time to focus on Critical Thinking and Logic.

Critical thinking and logic is something I think I should be pretty good at. Those are skills that I have used as a part of my job for over two decades.

  • Listen to the customer
  • Identify the problem
  • Clarify and restate the problem to the customer to ensure you understand
  • Assist the customer with resolving the issue and/or resolve the issue on the server
  • Test to ensure that the issue is resolved
  • Follow up with customer to verify that the issue is resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

So when the Pre-assessment exam (which I passed, without looking at the materials) tells me that I am weak on “Problem Identification and Clarification”, I have a very hard time taking it seriously.

I  think the biggest issue I am having is adjusting to the test. I am finding the test to be extremely poorly phrased, and vague. There are questions that seemingly lack any understanding of what they are talking about, and lack specifics about the topic what would be required to support some of the choices they are telling me are correct.

For example, one of the test questions/scenarios stated that a specific kind of staple food shortage had not yet had a significant impact on inflation in the US. Well, in truth, Food and Energy are not factored into the inflation rate, so the total impact of that kind of a food shortage would have exactly NIL effect on the inflation rate.

The question then went on to setup an answer for determining how Carbon Dioxide is impacting climate… as a solution to the food shortage. However in the question they did not list trends, only weather events. Weather events are not climate, climate requires data over time (trends). This also doesn’t take in account that so called solutions like the Paris Climate Accords, lack any kind of enforcement. Also, even by their own admission, the best case estimated result of the Paris Climate accords was less than a degree difference. (Not much of a solution)

While I realize that this isn’t a test on the economy, or on climate change, the fact that the question sets up a scenario that is from the beginning making false assumptions, doesn’t give me a whole lot of faith in whomever wrote the test. The fact that they are using false assumptions and inaccurate data to get the user to make incorrect inferences, thus driving “politically correct” answers, gives me far less faith in their supposed critical thinking ability as well. This is just another example of agenda driven conclusions that are not truly backed up by the scientific data.

However, that said, none of it matters or is truly relevant to passing the test.

In the end, all testing is just a game. You just have to adapt to the test, learn the new rules, and give it the answers it expects to pass.  Even when the person who wrote the test is less than a stellar test writer, or seems to have a less than competent understanding of the material they are referring to in order to evoke the desired answer; all that matters is passing the test’s game.

For example, for this test, when it asks about the Elements of Thinking, the answer it expects must only contain the element. For example, the answer would include the word “Information”. However, if the Element in the answer is in any way modified by one of the Standards of Thinking, then that answer must be excluded. For example, if one of the answers to the question is “Relevant Information”, that answer would be wrong when pertaining to only the Elements of Critical Thinking.

Personally, I think that is absurd, and shows laziness, or a lack of imagination on the part of the knucklehead who wrote the test. There has to be a better way to test for an understanding of what the Elements of Thinking are, without arbitrarily discounting an answer that contains a correct element, but is too specific because you are combining it with a standard.

However, as I was saying, agree with it or not, that is the game the test is playing, and in order to pass the exam, you have to play by the rules of the test… arbitrary, ill-informed, unimaginative or not.

I can argue all I want about how the test could be worded better, or how the questions could be asked in a different manner to accomplish the same goal without being so vague; but in the end, I have to pass the exam. In order to pass the exam, I have to play by the rules of the exam.

I have until Saturday to figure out the rest of the rules of the exam. Based on the fact that I have taken and passed the Pre-Assessment without any review of the course material, my goal is to take, and pass, the Objective Assessment this Saturday.  So I am spending the week reviewing the materials and attending live courses with the instructors (all PhDs in Philosophy) so I can get a better handle on the rules of the exam.

Categories: Critical Thinking and Logic, Term 1

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