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Session 3: Critical Thinking Expanded to Ethical Decision-Making Video Transcript

[Rose Proctor] So let's recap a little bit around effective communication and critical thinking. So we talked about that effective communication is having that ability to display appropriate listening, nonverbal, verbal, interpersonal, and written skills. At the same time, being able to send a consistent, clear, concise and courteous message that's easily understood by the receiving party. Also challenging ourselves to ask questions, right? And understand, clarify, summarize, and provide feedback to ensure that the message has been understood by the receiving party. Whereas critical thinking starts to challenge us on our abilities to analyze facts versus assumptions, use logical approaches to form an accurate, objective decision or plan of action. Recognize and clearly define the problem that's in front of us. What are we trying to solve?

What are you critically thinking about? Determining the causes for those Identifying, prioritizing and selecting alternative solutions as outcomes to those problems and then implementing those solutions and even for very complex and difficult decisions. That is what employers are looking for when they talk about effective communication and your ability to problem solve or critically think. So what does having the ability to critically think really mean, right? That's what we were kind of building up in the last section. Let's talk about a few steps. So step one, I want you to be able to separate and understand that there are facts and there are assumptions. Getting beyond your opinion is really important when you're talking about critical thinking in the context of your career. Step 2 gather and consider evidence and evaluate from different ethical perspectives. We're going to provide you an ethical decision making framework. This framework was never meant to make a decision and then find part of the framework that supports that decision, although that's typically what we see in people when they're talking about kind of their decision making skills. It was really meant for critical thinking that naturally all of these ethical frameworks and the different ethical lenses within it contradict each other. And what was meant to happen was to take what you're thinking through each one of these Lenses, through the framework and come to a better, more sound ethical decision.

Instead of making a decision and then finding something to support it. So let's kind of dive into that step two a little bit more around ethical decision making in that Framework. Well there are four ethical lenses, so to speak, as unique as we think we all are, we kind of are creatures of habits in most things, and we have preferences. Our decision making is really no different. It just depends on if you've given enough thought to how you think, right? That kind of metacognition which is just thinking about how you think on whether or not you understand and know those preferences for yourself. So self awareness is really crucial around critical thinking and decision making, but we talk about ethical decision making, here's a framework to help you with that. In that first lens we're talking about a responsibilities lens. The big thing here you guys are not going to understand and probably remember after this video all these big higher education theories on ethics. This lens predominantly aligns with deontology or a deontological perspective, if you want to look that up. But really, the one word here to remember is structure. I want to challenge you to remember that word as you're making decisions. What is the structure to the problem or the situation that I'm making a decision about? What's the structure to the communication lines, right? Around authorities or modes of communication? So structure is all of that, exactly what you think, right? Maybe where you start is is it legal?

It's a great place to start. Laws, policies, procedures, cultural norms, right? All of these things are structural aspects to the decision at hand or the problem that you're trying to solve. The next ethical lens is is wrapped around justice theories. You know around equality and fairness and all these types of things. It's relationship focused, but the one word to remember is stakeholders. So what does it mean to be a stakeholder? It just means that that individual or maybe organization or group of people, whatever that is that you're defining as a stakeholder, has some kind of impact from your decision. So for you guys, as high school students, maybe you're making a decision on whether or not you're going to college. Maybe you're moving away. Some of the stakeholders in that, are you, yourself. Maybe you have a job already, so your current employer, your parents, have probably a big impact from that. If you have a significant other right.

These are all different stakeholders that actually have kind of an impact from your decision. The next lens is a results lens, so maybe you've heard the theory around utilitarianism or consequentialism. Or maybe you know just what's best for the greater good. All of these types of things fall in that ethical perspective. But the one word to remember is outcome. So I want to challenge you guys to think about what are the possible alternative outcomes to the decision that you're making and not just the outcome that you desire, right? But be thinking about even undesirable outcomes. What happens if that's the outcome from the decision that you're making? And then finally the last lens is a virtue ethics lens that's really challenging you on character, and it aligns with the word reputation. But we kind of challenge our students here at the University to think about the So what? This is the impact. This is what, you Know, what precedents are you setting?

How does this align with your own core values? How does it align with the values of the organization maybe that you're making that decision on behalf of? And so sometimes there's either a little bit of soul searching to understand your own personal values, or some research about your organization's values and how your decision is aligning or misaligning with those. So as you think about kind of making more ethical decisions, we want you to quickly be able to reference these types of of ethical lenses quickly, but with four words you can do that. Force yourself to critically think about what is the structure? Who are the stakeholders? What are some of the outcomes that are potential? And then what's the impact long-term?

I think ethics incorporation into any decision-making is very crucial because it's, it's kind of taking it from a different, a bigger perspective than your own. It's stuff that is generally accepted and held to be true, whereas stuff that you what you may believe in what you think is can be personal and you may have a reason for thinking what you think, which isn't wrong. But when you look at it from an ethical perspective, you're looking at it from something that's more socially acceptable or culturally acceptable, whatever different way you want to twist it, but. Whenever you look at something from an ethical perspective, you're you know it. You know it to be true, you know, and sometimes people have wrong ideas or wrong beliefs, and it's not necessarily on them for that issue, but it's that they aren't educated enough, and it's something that we need to focus on as a society to get educated on topics that are important, especially that are up to date, whether it be anything you know. You can, you can go into a lot of different situations for that, but I think thinking of it from ethical perspective makes you kind of understand that it is a lot bigger than yourself, and that there's very different perspectives, theories, lenses and stuff that you can use to make that decision.

So I think a lot of people do this sort of naturally. Most people don't actually think about their ethical framework and like their own personal ethics. They just kind of do what feels right. But a lot of times you know, depending on someone's background, what feels right to you may not be right to another person, so you have to look at the people around you and how they perceive things and make your decisions accordingly. In making decisions for myself, I have a sense of pride that I think is important. I wouldn't necessarily call it arrogance. It's just a bit of of a standard that I keep myself too. And when faced with a problem or situation in my decision is either you know the hard right or the easy wrong or the unethical verse or the ethical, immoral moral. Whenever you're faced with basically that fork in the road, regardless of the repercussions at the end of the day,

I've got to look myself in the mirror and be content with how I handled whatever situation or how I lived that day. And that's one of the biggest things that that I look at, especially with the hard right versus the easy wrong is that discipline that at the end of the day I'm answering to myself, even if even if the repercussions of that choice or that action affect nobody, then that's great. But like I said, end of the day I'm talking to myself in the mirror, and if there is bigger repercussions, then obviously there's more at scale than just letting yourself down or failing to keep yourself to whatever standard you said. Alright, so we have went through step one and Step 2. Let's now move on to step three as we talk about critical thinking in order to increase our ability to effectively communicate, Step three is having thoughtful consideration around the objections to your decision. Before you actually make that decision and put it out there as a final decision. So you're wanting to think about, you know, for instance, if your decision is a yes or no. If I'm a yes, why are other people a no?

What are those objections to someone being a yes on the problem or the decision that I'm making? If maybe we're taking an alternative solution or a different option, why would others select the other options? Really challenge yourself to think considerably about those objections. Step 4 is consideration of effectively communicating your decision and your reasoning right. You have to be able to explain it. As you guys start to get into leadership positions, you're much more visible, and it's not going to be acceptable to just make a good decision, but be able to effectively communicate that decision to others, and your reasoning for why you came to that decision is going to be crucial. And that's really what employers are pushing towards. So let's do a quick exercise together about making a decision and then effectively communicating that to others.

So now that we've completed that exercise together, we're going to continue our conversation around effective communication. Being able to increase that skill for ourselves. How critical thinking plays a role in that, and how we're using our ethical framework to assist in making more an ethical decisions. Well, now we're going to start talking about how all this needs to be taken in consideration both for your official and unofficial resumes. As you're getting out on the job market and applying for new positions.

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