Professor talking to students

College students need to learn to be analytical thinkers. Analytical skills are critical for the success of their future professional and personal life.

Startup Wars explains:

What is Analytical Reasoning?

Analytical reasoning involves a student examining patterns in information to see if they follow logic – or if the outcomes could be true. 

To have analytical thinking, one must be detail oriented and creative in their thinking. Analytical reasoning can help guide a student to know what to do next – how to respond to the information they study. This gives the student an analytical solution.

What is an analytical solution? It is a solution that is exact. They are not guesses – they are stronger, fact based answers to problems.

“They are, at heart, stories—stories that explain how enterprises work. A good business model answers age-old questions: Who is the customer? And what does the customer value? It also answers the fundamental questions every manager must ask: How do we make money in this business? What is the underlying economic logic that explains how we can deliver value to customers at an appropriate cost?”

Harvard Business Review

Why Analytical Skills are Important

Analytical thinking allows for informed decision making.

Analytical Thinking or reasoning is solution based thinking. It allows a person to solve problems by using data analysis, research, theory testing, and more.

For a college student, critical thinking and analytical skills can help them to understand themselves better. It can open a student’s mind to help them avoid limited or negative beliefs. 

An analytical approach can help a student become a stronger individual.  They can learn to hone their skills in sharing their thoughts, and this can increase their quality of life.

Reasoning skills are crucial for preparing students for the workplace. Analytical aptitude allows a person to work more independently. This allows a person to be more responsible, building skills for organizational leadership and independent research assignments.

Characteristics of Analytical Thinking

Student engaging with remote learning

Analytical thinking involves trial and error.

This involves communication, creativity, critical thinking, research and analyzing data. 

According to Indeed, the process of analytical thinking involves several steps, including:

  • Identifying a topic, problem or issue
  • Gathering information through testing and observation
  • Developing solutions or deepening your understanding of the topic
  • Testing solutions or new ideas based on what you’ve learned
  • Post-analysis, or reviewing what solutions worked, to assess and apply your new knowledge

These steps help independent learners to quickly identify cause and effect relationships. This means understanding what might happen during the problem-solving process, for example, and examining how new ideas relate to the original topic.

Safety in Thinking

Risks are reduced with analytical thinking. 

Risks are reduced because actions are only taken after critical thinking has  informed choices.

Without analytical thinking, a student might rely on their intuition or even guessing – that’s just not as safe. It isn’t productive in a workplace environment that requires logical problem solving.

Instead, analytical skills allow complicated issues to become creative solutions. Observation and deduction skills allow a student to learn to listen more clearly which directs them to better solutions.

Quantitative analytical skills (the manipulation of numbers) is also needed. This type of problem solving and data analysis is needed for many jobs, such as: economists, data scientists, criminologists, and business and cyber security analysts.

How To Teach Analytical Thinking

The value of teaching these skills can not be underrated. But how can they be taught? 

One of the most effective ways to teach this kind of thinking is through simulations. Students grow through the experience of specific practice opportunities, and simulations give that golden opportunity. 

Through real life simulations, you can teach students to:

  • Be curious: Teach your students to ask questions. How can this make sense?
  • Be persistent: Tell your students to keep trying –  even if they fail. Keep at it until you find solutions. Struggling is part of the process.
  • Experiment: Have students run controlled experiments in search of data 
  • Become problem solvers: Guide students to find all barriers and variables
  • Show work: Encourage each student to show their research and data findings

Then, create a conversation. Encourage your students to dig deeper – to keep asking WHY?

Discuss their simulation findings. How did they find their way to this solution?

In Closing

Fact finding skills are critical for preparing students for the future of work. Simulation is a great way to develop analytical skills in students.

Analytical thinking helps learners become self-assertive and confident. This way of data thinking lets them know that their outcome is the result of a thought process that yields real results. 

And remember, students do learn from mistakes, which is crucial in their personal and professional lives.

Next Chapter

How to Teach Analytical Thinking to College Students

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