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Cognitive Competence

Tomorrow’s Leader Term paper Topic: Cognitive Competence Wai (Synergy) Content Part 1 1. Definition cognitive competenceP. 3-4 2.

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Theory of cognitive competenceP. 5-8 3. Factors affecting cognitive competenceP. 9-10 4. Importance of cognitive competence in leadershipP. 11-12 5. Ways to enhance the level of cognitive competenceP. 13-14 Part 2 Self evaluationP. 15-17 Part 3 ReferenceP. 18-19 Part 1 Definition of cognitive competence 1. Cognitive competence is defined as the ability to perform adequately those cognitively complex tasks considered essential for living on one’s own in this society. Willis SL. (1996). Everyday cognitive competence in elderly persons: conceptual issues and empirical findings, Oct;36(5):595-601) 2. The ability to develop and apply the cognitive skills of self-talk, the reading and interpretation of social cues, using steps for problem-solving and decision making, understanding the perspective of others, understanding behavioral norms, a positive attitude towards life, and self –awareness. (The W. T. Grant Consortium on the School-Based Promotion of Social Competence (1992: 136)) 3. Academic and intellectual achievement. include the ability to use logic, analytic thinking, and abstract reasoning) (Catalano, R. F. , Berglund, M. L. , Ryan, J. A. M. , Lonczak, H. S. , ; Hawkins, J. D. (2002). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Prevention and Treatment, 5 (15), 1-106. ) This three definitions are little bit different. The third one is too narrow as it just mentioned academic and intellectual achievement. The second one, on the other hand, is not specific enough. In my understanding, I think cognitive competence is best defined using the first two definitions. Cognitive competence is defined as the ability to perform adequately those cognitively complex tasks considered essential for living on one’s own in this society. It also includes understanding the perspective of others, understanding behavioral norms, and self –awareness. ” Theory Hui & Sun’s model (2007) This model divides cognitive competence into three types of thinking: 1. Creative thinking, a way of looking at problems or situations from a fresh perspective that suggests unorthodox solutions (which may look unsettling at first). 2.

Critical thinking, which includes reasoning, making references, self-reflection, and coordination of multiple views. Critical thinking has been described as “the process of purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, which uses reasoned consideration to evidence, context, conceptualizations, methods, and criteria. ” (Facione, Peter A. Critical Thinking: What It is and Why It Counts, Insightassessment. com) 3. Rational thinking refers to logical or reasoning being involved in the thought process. It refers to providing reasons or rational behind thoughts or ideas.

It adds an element of calculation and planning to a steam of thoughts rather than basing them on emotion or personal opinion. It is a kind of objective process of thinking and an analytic approach to any problem. Rational thinking is based on reasons or facts and is hence much more calculating and realistic. Geiwitz’s model This model divides cognitive competence into three steps of thinking: 1. Know what, to know what is the problem 2. Know how, to know how the problem can be solved 3. Know why, to know why choose particular method to solve the problem, or to evaluate the method currently used. What How Why

In Hui and Sun’s model, creative thinking is the innovative way of thinking. It allows people to invent new things or idea. Critical thinking is used when commenting on something, e. g. in writing editorials. As for rational thinking, it is used when analyzing. In my opinion, the second model is easier to understand. And it shows progressive levels of cognitive competence, whereas the first model only divides our thinking into three different ways. Therefore, I would further explain cognitive competence using the second model for reference. Take the example of inventors of the world’s first airplane – the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur.

This is an good example to illustrate the concept of cognitive competence and the Geiwitz’s model. Applying the Geiwitz’s model, the Wright brothers’ aim was to create a “flying machine”, this is the “know what” level of cognitive competence. They then started to think and design this machine, and this is the “know how” level of cognitive competence. Finally they evaluated the products (what’s good and not good about it) and thought how to improve further. The “know how” and “know why” steps repeated. And finally an mature airplane was invented. Start Know what: to invent a flying machine Know how: How to built a better flying machine

Know why: Why this model is good/not good enough Repeat A satisfatory model is invented Another example to illustrate is the development in high jump styles. The styles used in high-jumping has changed from initially scissors style, to straddle style, and finally the Fosbury style which is still using nowadays. Start Know what: to jump high Know how: What jumping style Know why: Why this style is good/not good enough Repeat A satisfatory syle is invented Factors affecting cognitive competence I think the factors affecting the development of one’s cognitive competence can be divided into intrinsic factors and extrinsic factors.

Intrinsic factors are those confine to yourself, while extrinsic factors are those influenced by the environment. For intrinsic factors, I think there are: intelligence, personalities, knowledge and past experience. For intelligent, I think it is not difficult to imagine that it is important for high cognitive competence. Intelligence is particularly important for the “know how” and “know why” stage. Only if you are wise enough can you think of a new way to solve problem that no one has ever think of or find out what is the problem of existing method being used by other people.

Moreover, intelligence is kind of inborn; therefore, cognitive competence is also inborn to a certain extent. As for personality, I think people with different personality may affect his/her performance in problem solving and the presentation of his cognitive competence. For example, if a person lacks confidence and likes to deal with problem in a low risk aspect, he/she may not abandon the existing widely used method to tackle the problem and use new methods even though he is clever enough to think of many other new potential methods. They may only attempt the new ways when they are 100% more effective and safer than the existing ones.

Knowledge and past experience are very similar. They both can be regarded as memory. They are very important factors that affect cognitive competence. When tackling problems, memory always acts as your “reference”, it gives you basic information and background about the problem. And help you to figure out the solution in relation to this “reference”. Like the case of the Wright brothers, when they tried to invent a flying machine, their knowledge in engineering gives them basic information of how to build it. It is interesting to notice that sometimes past experience may hinder our cognitive performance.

For example, when you are dealing with a project you are very familiar with, you might too much into your experience and knowledge and think that it is impossible to explore new methods. For extrinsic factors, there are: Environment (e. g. family background, situation of the problem) and the nature of problem Environment is the major extrinsic factor affecting one’s cognitive competence. It determines many of intrinsic factors including past experience, knowledge and even personality. Environment can also affects ones attitude to deal with the problem, thus performance of cognitive competence.

For example, the due date of your proposal is tomorrow morning and now is already three o’clock in the morning and you haven’t even started yet. I am sure you may feel desperate and will not spend much time to think of the new ideas. Moreover, family socialization also affects cognitive competence and intelligence of people. (Grundmann, M. ; Teo, Thomas; Socialization, intelligence, and cognitive competence (1997)) Another one is the nature of the problem. It determines one’s past experience and knowledge are useful or not. It is because the past experience and knowledge can not apply to all situation.

Importance of cognitive competence in leadership Cognitive competence is important in leadership. A research points out that cognitive skills were found to be directly correlate with high-level of leadership performance in a MLE (Military Leadership Exercises) research. (Marshall-Mies et al. , 2000) Often included intelligence, general skills, crystallized skills (e. g. oral and written expression and comprehension), and creative or divergent thinking capacities are cognitive capabilities that should influence leadership performance. (Connelly, Gilbert, Zaccaro, Threlfall, Marks & Mumford, 2000).

I also agree that cognitive competence is important in leadership. First of all, leader with higher level of cognitive competence can deal with different kinds of problems with his own way of thinking. That means they can find out his own most effective way to tackle the problem without copying others method. This gives the leader independency that he does not need to rely on others too much. It also gives them maturity that they can have their own way of thinking. Independency and maturity surely are the important factors of a leader. This makes people happy and feeling safe to follow you.

Secondly, leader with high level of cognitive competence can have great contribution to the team. They can give out a lot of useful ideas that no one has thought of before. This already makes them the strongest ones or the most unique ones in the team. People would love to follow leaders which are stronger than them. Again, this makes them feel safe. Finally, leaders with high level of cognitive competence can have a clear mind and know what is wrong in the team. They know what the team should do (goal). And they evaluate the performance of the team, and find out what should be improved.

That means they are not only using cognitive skills in problem solving, but also in team management. It is because “team management” itself is already a task. People with higher cognitive competence usually have higher IQ and are conflicts encountering (Heydenberk R. A. and Heydenberk W. R. , Increasing Meta-Cognitive Competence through Conflict Resolution(2005)) Ways to enhance the level of cognitive competence Before discussing how to enhance the level of cognitive competence, I think we should first identify what cannot be changed or be improved.

They are called constrains. Through understanding what are the constrains, we can focus on what can and what should be improved. The constrains include family background, intelligence and personality. These factors are sort of fixed, or can only have little change. So, to raise the level of cognitive competence, I think it is effective that we try to learn as much as possible. This is to enhance our knowledge and enrich our experience. As mentioned, knowledge and past experience are two important factors affecting one’s cognitive ability.

This is because they are our own sources of information about the problem being coped. We can make use of this information to find a way to solve the problem. We may not figure out any new method, at least we know how people deal with it previously. In Janet E, Et Al, The Role of metacognition in Problem Solving, four steps of thinking is also mentioned to guide people to solve problems. They are: 1. Identifying and defining the problem 2. Mentally representing the problem 3. Planning how to proceed 4. Evaluating what you know about your performance

This way of thinking can help people to organized their thoughts, so that they can deal with the problem step by step. I think it is a quite useful way to improve cognitive performance because it makes people organized and focus on one job at a time. This prevents them from being interrupted from different sources. Furthermore, it helps people to think logically. Part 2 Self-reflection Hong Kong students are known to be a copycat. We are blamed to have low level of creativity and afraid to try new things. People always say that we just copy things from others or textbooks without digesting them.

But I think it is not totally my case. I am not a stupid student. I used to be very creative in primary school. Others describe me as naughty. It is because all my creativity is used in inventing new ways to play tricks on my classmates. I remember one time I played a game in an activity class. My teacher ask my group to use a deck of playing cards to build a tower as high as we can. Then we started. Other groups are using the traditional method (see left). Obviously it requires high technique. Therefore they can only built towers with few floors high. But I figured out another method.

I folded up two cards, turned them sideway to make two “L” shape walls, put them facing each other to make a square wall, on top of it I placed a flat card. And I repeated to do this. Of course, my team built the highest tower. But guess what happened next. My teacher told us that was against the rules. Playing cards are not supposed to be folded (She didn’t tell us before the game). We lose that competition at the end. I think, after this event, my creativity started to slowly bury in my heart deeply. When I recall this event, I discover one important thing.

That is our creativity is often being restricted by our teachers, and our education system. Teachers set all the projects, homework with rules and restrictions, trying to make them easier to mark and compare. But this made our assignments all looking the same. Examination questions have all the model answers, this made our student the same person who can only memorize answers without digesting the questions and answer them in their own way. Not that I don’t have critical thinking and creativity. It is just because they have to be thrown away to survive in HK’s education system.

Take the example of A-level exams, the curriculum is very tight that teachers even cannot have time to teach us all the topics included. How would I have time to individually explore all the topics taught? Instead, in order to get high grades in this exam, I spent most of the time on memorizing past paper’s model answers. I know it would not help my cognitive development, but getting into a good university is more important to me. I believe this is also the problem of many students. Now, when I am given a problem to solve, I still try my best to explore the alternatives.

May be this is due to my personality. I just don’t like to be the same with others. I like to be unique. But I think I am not creative as I was small anymore. Apart from the reason about the restrictions set by teachers just discussed, another possible reason may be due to my own knowledge and experience. As I mentioned in part 1 of this report, knowledge and experience, although can help to solve your problem, they sometimes hinder your cognitive performance. Sometimes this happens to me. I just rely too much on the knowledge and experience, and cannot think out of the box.

But the major reason is still because of the education system in HK. But in the university, a place to train student’s critical thinking and creativity, I think that this problem would become less severe. To improve my cognitive abilities, I think the best way is to train to have independent critical thinking. Don’t rely too much on knowledge from any sources and my own or others’ past experience. Always try my best to look for other possible alternatives. Although this might spend a lot more time and at the end there may not come up any new things. But I think the process can also help me to develop my cognitive skills.

Although it might hinder my cognitive performance, I think it is still important to enrich my knowledge and broaden my horizon. This is because learning more can let me compare different theories and thus train my independent critical thinking. They are also my valuable first encountered source when any problem comes to me. Part 3 Reference Willis SL. (1996). Everyday cognitive competence in elderly persons: conceptual issues and empirical findings, Oct;36(5):595-601 The W. T. Grant Consortium on the School-Based Promotion of Social Competence (1992: 136)

Catalano, R. F. , Berglund, M. L. , Ryan, J. A. M. , Lonczak, H. S. , & Hawkins, J. D. (2002). Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs. Prevention and Treatment, 5 (15), 1-106. Grundmann, M. ; Teo, Thomas; Socialization, intelligence, and cognitive competence (1997) Marshall-Mies et al. , 2000 Connelly, Gilbert, Zaccaro, Threlfall, Marks & Mumford, 2000 Heydenberk R. A. and Heydenberk W. R. , Increasing Meta-Cognitive Competence through Conflict Resolution(2005)