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A Three-Part Theory of Critical Thinking: Dialogue, Mental Models, and Reliability

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Conference paper

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Is critical thinking important And if so, why A small set of themes appear over and over in the prefaces and introductions of the dozens of critical thinking textbooks that are in print. Claims fall into three groups A. Problem difficulty, including i increasing complexity of problems, ii changing nature of problems, and iii information overload. B. Decentralized social and organizational structure, including i increasing responsibility and need for initiative, ii increasing participation in teams with diverse membership, and iii increasing need for independent thinking. C. High stakes, including i important public policy issues and ii personal decisions in an increasingly competitive career environment. Do conditions for the use of critical thinking apply in the Army The answer certainly appears to be yes. There is a growing interest in critical thinking among Army instructors and researchers, which seems warranted by A the complexity and changing character of military planning and operations B decentralization of the organizational structure e.g., the demands of leadership, coordination, and initiative within every echelon and C high stakes personally, organizationally, and for the nation as a whole. In addition, the direction of change in the Army promises to make critical thinking even more important. These changes include the growing complexity of military tasks, the rapid evolution of technology and missions, the flood of information unleashed by the new technology, increasing diversity of military organizations, and the growing interest in tactics that rely on initiative by local commanders.

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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