*WINNER* Industry Leaders' Perceived Critical Thinking Dispositions of Early-Career Employees


  • Mary Mahan


Recently, a plethora of research has been conducted to gauge which "soft skills" (communication, critical thinking, teamwork, etc.) are most highly valued in current employees and new hires; as well as if and how institutions of higher education are responsible for aiding colleges students in developing critical thinking dispositions and skills that prepare them for the global workforce. The purpose of this study was to determine how industry leaders perceive the critical thinking dispositions of their early-career (21-35 years) employees. Participants were chosen based on their current positions and relationship with the School of Agriculture. A modified version of the University of Florida – Engagement, Cognitive Maturity, and Innovativeness (EMI) instrument was used to capture early-career employees' critical thinking dispositions. Preliminary data suggests that early-career employees strive to be well informed (3.9/5.0), are able to get along with people who do not share the same opinions (3.9/5.0), and are looking for opportunities to solve problems (3.6/5.0). However, they are lacking in their ability to find multiple solutions to problems (3.0/5.0), relate to a wide variety of issues (3.1/5.0), and consider the facts and not let biases affect their decisions (3.1/5.0). Therefore, developing courses and/or pedagogical strategies that promote critical thinking skills will assist students in becoming valuable contributors to the global workforce.