A college education experience is a form of Professional Development, and an effective college experience includes embracing how to critically examine opportunities. Critical thinking is a skill very much in demand and a topic of much discussion in business and university circles, and is examined in detail by Richard Arum in his book, “Academically Adrift.” Arum writes, “While the higher-education system as a whole is failing to improve many student’s critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills… what are the college experiences… that facilitate student learning?” (Arum & Roksa, 2011, p. 57)
Critical thinking requires one to be able to look at the world in unique ways. University professors could help students become familiar and comfortable with critical thinking by providing experiential learning opportunities that include “…authentic tasks that arouse curiosity and become intrinsically interesting… because students learn to think critically, to reason from evidence, to examine the quality of their reasoning using a variety of intellectual standards…” (Bain, 2004, p. 99) When professors challenge students to think critically about situations, I feel employers will find new college graduates that are ready to embrace professional development initiatives. Universities would then be valued as a place where critical thinking engages students to become risk takers that explore and apply what they have learned in the classroom in innovative ways in the workplace. My research revealed that “Special experiences, such as internships, may provide colleges and employers a tool to measure the value of a college education to improve critical thinking and complex reasoning skills.” (Hoyle, 2013, p.33) Jeff Dryer and Hal Gregresen (2011) found that “…most people can actually do this [critical thinking] reasonably well if they choose to put in the time and effort that’s required to think different. That’s what disruptive innovators do, day after day. Do you? Can you? Will you?” (para. 11) To succeed, sales professionals need to become comfortable developing the skills of disruptive innovators, because B2B customers are experiencing challenging times that require innovative solutions.
Dr. Jeff Hoyle is Director of Marketing Internships for the Professional Sales & Marketing program at Central Michigan University.
Arum, R, & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.
Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Dyer, J. & Gregersen, H. (2011, September 27). Learn How to Think Different(ly) [Web blog post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.hbr.org/2011/09/begin-to-think-differently/
Hoyle, J. (2013). Exploring stakeholder relationships in a university internship program: A qualitative study (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from http://condor.cmich.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p1610-01coll1/id/3804