The Human brain is a fascinating instrument that allows us to shape our thoughts in order to form ideas. The ability to articulate our thoughts and share our ideas can be credited with the conception of all revolutionary changes that mankind has seen throughout the annals of history. These ideas and solutions arise from an optimum mixture of our ability to understand the information that we have read and learned. Cognitive ability is the ability of the human brain to Read, Infer, Learn, Remember and Process information.
These core skills act as an impetus to enhance our thinking proficiency, which allows us to pull off some real wonders. The human mind is the greatest problem solver. The mind is always up for the challenge; be it any question it has all the answers. What a marvel the human mind is!!
When the human mind is presented with a problem, it crawls through your mental recesses in search of relevant information and quickly figures the analogy and patterns associated with the information provided and eventually lands up with the optimum solution to the problem. This amazing ability of our mind can be used to accomplish amazing feats. Its ability to bead together bits and pieces of information in order to attain its objective is what makes it a truly remarkable tool. This unique ability of the human brain is broadly referred to as cognitive thinking.
Cognitive ability is a mixture of Lateral thinking, Design thinking, Critical thinking and Analytical thinking. Let’s delve into the details of these four pillars and how it forms the very foundation of cognitive ability:
This acknowledges the creative aspect of an individual and the ability to use your imagination to look at a problem with a fresh perspective and come up with an “out of the box” solution. It is how we use any given information to bring about the creative changes and restructure our insight into the problems faced. The main ingredient of lateral thinking is “Logic”. The backbone of lateral thinking is built on facts, semantics, perception, and imagination.
- Facts: Fact based lateral thinking is perhaps the most difficult to describe. This type of thinking encompasses the usage of already known common facts, connecting the dots inside the mind-space and out of nowhere, you get that “Eureka” moment. This type of thinking could be construed as the type of thinking required to solve problems that may seem unsolvable at first glance.
- Semantics: It involves very basic usage of logic that deals with the study of meaning in formal and natural languages. It is the result of the disparity between the content and extension of concepts and between the meaning and truth value of propositions. Basically, formal and natural languages are both treated as subsets of sentences for which the “True condition(s)” have to be specified relative to the question and the major catch is to find that true condition.
- Perception: Perception is basically “your version” of meaning for any information that comes in. In a broader aspect, perception is the act of apprehending by the use of your sensory organs. It’s your belief or opinion, your ability to notice and understand things that are not obvious to others. In lateral thinking, your perception plays a major role regarding any problem is the very first intuition towards solving a problem; its power is such that it can either make or break.
- Imagination: The first thing that comes to our mind on hearing this word is probably the word creativity. However, Imagination embodies much more than that. It is the ability to analyze what we already know about a common problem and figure out a way to represent it such that a feasible solution can be found to solving it. Imagination is similar to perspective, unique to each individual that decides the approach taken by different individuals in order to accomplish their intended objective.
Design thinking – The very first thought that crawls into our mind upon hearing this word is making the products attractive or enhancing the brand perception.
This is a common misconception which lingers around us to this day; Design, in its most effective form, is a process or an action. Today, as the terrain of Innovation expands to encompass needs or greed’s of people, companies are pushing their designers to create ideas rather than to simply adorn them. It is a process to solve complex problems in ways that provide an inclusion of the human element by devising feasible possibilities of technology or strategically planning it according to people’s needs and desires.
The basic key elements of design thinking are:
- Defining a Real Problem: Instead of beating around the bush, companies rather prefer to jump straight to the actual root of the problem by the basic application of a typical child’s curiosity of constantly asking “Why? and How?” for every situation until you clear the air and reach the very basic model of the problem.
- Deciphering the set of different solutions: It is more of a case study. You get a situation based problem and based on the different parameters of the problem, many solutions are jotted down. It requires that no matter how obvious the solution may seem, many solutions be created for consideration. Different perspectives on a particular problem always yield richer results.
- Filtering the potentially correct solutions: Refine all the search results by applying different filters which bring you more closely to the most-relevant solutions.
- Finalizing the Correct Answer: By this time enough measures have been taken to ensure success and, thus, finalize the winner which leads to your “Correct Answer”. It involves making a prototype and testing it to get full assurance.
“Skepticism rather than credulity is the highest principle the human intellect can use to ennoble our existence.” – Hitchens
HOW you think is more important than WHAT you think.
This brings us to the basic definition of critical thinking. It is a disciplined way of thinking in a direction that is clear, rational and well-informed by evidence. It involves reflective and independent thinking. This basically revolves around the process of connecting the logical dots between different ideas. Patience is a key Ingredient needed to solve any problem systematically. It is the key to detecting the minute as well as common mistakes one so often is liable to make. It tests the deduction skills of a person and his talent to seek for relevant sources of information to ultimately use this information to solve the problem.
Evaluation of the idea
Interpretation of the information
Inference by the information
Reasoning and Explanation
Figure: Basic steps of critical thinking.
It is the deductive ability which allows us to collect, visualize and analyze information to see the bigger picture. It is basically our ability to disintegrate big chunks of information and identify the minute details required for problem-solving. It is a critical component of visual thinking that gives one the ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently.
To understand the broader perspective of “Analytical Thinking”, let’s break it into three main steps:
- Congregate useful chunks of information which you require to solve the problem.
- Pinpoint the main issues and problem.
- Use the relevant information from the information-reservoir which is specific to the problem and, hence, eventually solving it.
However, where do you start?
Sometimes, you need to use specific techniques to get information in and out of your brain, creating highly effective maps.
Many teachers and parents complain that today’s schools and textbooks do not teach children how to think, but instead, teach them what to think. Teaching children what to think instead of how to think is brainwashing; it does not prepare them for unexpected real-life situations and makes them very vulnerable.
There is need of proper assessments which could actually test and teach the children the right path to avoid this vulnerability.
Perks of Analytical thinking
- It sharpens calculating speed :
To quote Periander, “Practice is everything. This is often misquoted as Practice makes perfect.” Your brain tends to retain some frequent calculations. There are thousands of such calculations in our mind; all the credit goes to the strenuous practices.
- It enhances the innovative capabilities :
In the present trend, we always seek for an “Out of the box solution”; but we forget that we always need an “Out of the box problem statement” for that. We need to optimize our search for the right facts to build up the implementable solution.
By these interesting problems, we sharpen our skills to minutely study the imperfections and thus ease our way to think about different cases/scenarios of the problem and, thus, solve it efficiently.
- It widens our approach:
A particular problem can be solved through different approaches. But from the many different angles of the same problem, we need to choose the most effective one. This is optimization and helps you build on your evaluative skills. This improves our take on complex problems.
We at WeCP believe in raising the bar of assessment creation in the field of cognitive skills.
On a concluding note, WeCP understands the need to create good quality problems in this zone of “Cognitive Ability”, and we pledge to fulfill it as quickly as possible while maintaining quality standards maintained in our Organization.