Critical thinking is a device that can be used to analyze and evaluate many aspects of our life. It can help provide solutions to problems that we may face, or help us to determine the whether we believe an assertion is true or false. In order to use critical thinking, one must learn how to do so. The 11 step method by M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Keeley (2010) is an essential tool for developing critical thinking skills (Browne & Keeley, 2010). Their book will provide as a basis to conduct an evaluation on a memorandum identifying “whether the compensation level for PDQ’s CEO is appropriate to the position with respect to current industry standards” (M. Headlee, personal communication, October 1, 2011). The first steps Browne and Kelley (2010) provide in a critical thinking evaluation is to identify the issue and conclusion.
What are The Issues and the conclusion?
Browne and Keeley (2010) state that “before we evaluate someone’s reasoning, we must first find it…to get started as a critical thinker, you must practice the identification of the issue and conclusion” (p. 19). Browne and Keeley (2010) go on to say that an issue can be determined by either conclusions made from evidence in the reading, or an author simply stating what issues he wishes to address (p.21). In the memorandum, the issue is explicitly stated as whether the compensation level for PDQ’s CEO is appropriate to the position with respect to current industry standards, and now that the issue has been identified, the conclusion must also be recognized. Browne and Keeley (2010) make it clear that a critical evaluation cannot be done until the conclusion is found, instructs the critical thinker to find this by asking “What is the writer or speaker trying to prove”, and defines a conclusion as “inferred”, that is, derived from reasoning (p.22). As stated before, the question or issue in the memo is whether or not the CEO of PDQ’s compensation is appropriate. The author of the memo ultimately concludes that the compensation of the chief executive is not appropriate to current industry standards for a company of the size of PDQ because it is misaligned. The conclusion will be the foundation of the evaluation as it will be identified as accepted or declined based on what reasons are given to support it in the memo. What Are the Reasons?
The issue and conclusion have successfully been identified in the memorandum. However, a critical evaluation does not stop there. To evaluate why the author has come to this conclusion, the reasons must be recognized. Browne and Keeley (2010) define reasons in this manner: Reasons are beliefs, evidence, metaphors, analogies, and other statements to support or justify conclusions. They are statements that form the basis for creating the credibility of a conclusion (p.28) To identify the reasons in the memo, Browne and Keeley (2010) suggest using a “questioning attitude”, with the first question being asked is a why question. When asked, “Why does the author believe this conclusion?” as it relates to the memo, his reasons are identified as follows: First, the author shows that time period overall from 2003 to 2009, the company has experienced just a 3% overall growth while the CEO’s salary has grown 48% during the same years. Next, he reasons that since there have been newspaper articles and flyers which include a story in the local newspaper entitled, “The Highest Paid Valley Executives,” in which CEO James’s salary for 2009 was published and he was quoted as saying, “I’m worth every penny I’m paid; this town owes everything to me and my family.”, as well as “salaried workers at the Hawthorne and Lakeside facilities circulating a flyer entitled, Overthrow the Tyrant King James, which features an unflattering comic representation of the CEO as a giant wearing a crown and seeming to crush PDQ hourly...