Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Careermanagement 01

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Critical thinking is the process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion. In fact, critical thinking skills are part of the University's mission: "committed to constructive and critical engagement with the whole of human culture." This is what we do at Notre Dame!

Assessing Your Level of Competency

This is the time to really reflect on yourself and where you are at with this competency. Ask yourself the following questions to dive deep into your self-assessment:

  • Did you recently write a paper analyzing a topic?
  • Do you find it easy to evaluate conflicting information?
  • How well do you formulate an argument to support a conclusion?
  • Do you critique a proposed solution with data or facts?
  • Have you helped resolve a problem in your student club?
  • When solving a problem, do you assess the situation and integrate varying information to find a solution?

Building Your Level of Competency

Build on your level of this competency through the following:

  • Take a class that analyzes and compares two or more points of view on the same topic.
  • Suggest new resolutions to solve a problem your student club or hall government is having.
  • Identify patterns and trends behind a statistical/quantified statement about a current day situation.
  • Write a critique paper on a viewpoint / issue / policy that you do not necessarily agree with.
  • Apply a problem solving technique you use in one class or topic to an entirely different class or topic.
  • Present your critique of an idea or author in a class discussion or presentation.
  • Do an independent research, capstone, or senior thesis tackling a challenging topic, requiring evaluating synthesizing.
  • Analyze and recommend organizational solutions through projects with students groups such as JIFFI, SBIC, Students Consulting for Nonprofits, McCloskey New Venture Competition, etc.

Communicate this Competency

There are many opportunities to communicate your ways of critical thinking and problem solving to others; through your resume, cover letters, interviewing, 30-second professional introduction, networking, etc.

Consider first any opportunities you have had to utilize these critical thinking/problem solving skills:

Handle ambiguity Adapt to new ideas Conduct research
Analyze ideas Create Demonstrate foresight
Develop new approaches Experiment Extrapolate to other situations
Identify trends Imagine possibilities Interpret information
Investigate Learn by doing Learn by listening
Learn by processing in the moment Learn by reading Reason logically
Observe Retain facts and details Summarize and synthesize information

Then start with statements like the samples below to build upon:

  • Designed a system to protect a weight and sensor dropped from a second story balcony, receiving positive feedback and A grade from professor.
  • Organized a seating plan which matched customer needs with availability of space and readiness of waiters and kitchen staff.
  • Evaluated candidates for Writing Center positions and made recommendations regarding new hires.
  • Explored the possibility of using constant power levels and adding energy storage to heavy machinery with large diesel engines.
  • Developed and presented a modified policy that integrated student and administration concerns.
  • Identified deficiencies in various medical departments, including pediatrics, internal medicine, pathology, and presented recommendations to the board of directors.

Career Ready Competency Tracking Tool

Download the Career Ready Competency Tracking Tool  one time from the main Career Competencies webpage, and utilize one document to track the development of all your competencies.