From an outsiders’ point of view, law enforcement seems to be one of those muscle-intensive jobs. Once you’re in the profession though, then you’ll realize that brain really is more important than brawn in this industry. All those tactical operations entail critical thinking and decision making – and they must be done at lightning speed, simultaneously, and amidst all the action, else lives are on the line.
Back on the Justice Clearinghouse webinars to talk about critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making is Dr. Jeffrey Fox of Fox Public Safety. His prolific criminal justice and law enforcement career began as military police officer with the US Army. He then served numerous agencies such as the Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Commonwealth University and the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, he works as a public safety trainer, educator, and consultant for Fox Public Safety.
Dr. Fox will dissect concepts surrounding critical thinking, problem-solving, and contextual-based learning, some of which are:
- The traits of a disciplined mind necessary for critical thinking.
- The definition of critical thinking as an active skill that requires purposeful understanding of one’s self, others and the world and examining our own beliefs.
- How critical thinking is practiced through skillful conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating.
- The 25-step path to critical thinking which can serve as a guide and reminder to engage critical thinking at all times.
- Questions to ask that elevates the conversation from merely descriptive to one that applies critical thinking through analysis.
- The significance of focusing on the issue/problem, facts, and reality when practicing critical thinking.
- Consistency, coherency, applicability, adequacy, and communicability as the important rules of critical thinking.
- The qualities that sabotage one’s capacity for critical thought as arrogance, laziness, lack of respect for reason and evidence, and unwillingness to learn.
- Skills and habits as the two major components of critical thinking.
- What decision-making is and the characteristics of the decision-making process.
- How creative thinking and critical thinking are combined towards effective problem-solving.
- The five stages of decision making from intelligence, design, choice, implementation to monitoring.
- The cycle of problem-solving that identifies the problem, obtains necessary facts and information, generate alternatives, comes up to a decision, and finally evaluating the outcome.
- Obstacles that hinder effective decision making as fear, lack of facts, presence of too many alternatives, competition and politics, lack of trust, and lack of support.
- The three problem-solving styles as personified with the ambassador, the thinker, and the charger.
- How contextual-based training brings together the three domains of learning.
- Fine-tuning workforce skills and instincts through contextual-based training that employs realistic training and coaching to improve employees’ skill and knowledge retention.
- Realistic training as the components of contextual-based training that uses role-playing, scenarios, and simulation where the trainees go through decision making and problem-solving.
- How putting individuals at the edge of their comfort zones brings out their peak performance.
- Critical questions to ask ones’ self that encourages critical thinking applicable to the law enforcement profession.
- How to be wary of our paradigms which may influence our decision-making.
- How illogical factors influence decision-making and how it causes satisficing and stop-gap measures.
- Using self-mastery and introspection to prevent our paradigms and other illogical factors from tainting our decision-making process.
- Poll questions gauged the audience's level of critical thinking, problem-solving and decision making.
- Participants raised the use of virtual reality to teach and evaluate decision making, the link of emotional intelligence to critical thinking, and how to improve critical thinking.