Thinking Skills and Graduate Success


Unitec students have a unique opportunity to explore and practice their thinking skills  in their programmes of study. The skills of problem solving, decision making and innovation are highly valued in the workplace.The aim of this post is to provide resources, and support to programme development teams to consider thinking skills in their own context.  A successful output will be the development of a thinking skills outcome for the programme graduate profile, and integration into course learning outcomes, and assessment activities.

By the end of this session you will be able to:
Knowledge: To understand the concepts and principles of thinking skills
Skills: Develop a graduate outcome to support student engagement with thinking skills in your programme.
Values: Commit to providing students to with the knowledge, skills and attributes to ensure success in their first five years of work.
People: Collaborate effectively with students, stakeholders and the programme development team members.
Learn: Access, evaluate and share resources which develop thinking skills understanding in your programme of study.
Integrate: Embed thinking skills graduate outcomes in course learning outcomes and assessments.



In "How to Create and Develop a Thinking Classroom", Mike Fleetham writes:"In our evolving world, the ability to think is fast becoming more desirable than any fixed set of skills or knowledge.  We need problem solvers, decision makers and innovators.  And to produce them, we need new ways to teach and learn.  We need to prepare our children for their future, not for our past."
From Ten Skills for the Future Workforce:

  1. Sense making: The ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed.
  2. Novel and adaptive thinking: Proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based.
  3. Computational thinking:  Ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning.
  4. Transdisciplinarity: Literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines.
  5. Design mindset: Ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes.
  6. Cognitive load management: Ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximise cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques.

Tim Brown says the design profession is preoccupied with creating nifty, fashionable objects -- even as pressing questions like clean water access show it has a bigger role to play. He calls for a shift to local, collaborative, participatory "design thinking."

Tim Brown is the CEO of the "innovation and design" firm IDEO -- taking an approach to design that digs deeper than the surface.

To fully integrate thinking skills into your programme of study, you will need to craft a graduate profile statement. To help you do this we have provided some sample statements from other institutions.
You will find the resources here.....
We have developed these questions to prompt your thinking about thinking in your profession or vocation.

Conversation Starters


  1. What are the current trends in thinking skills in the workplace of your graduates?

  2. How does your vocation or professional body view thinking skills?

  3. What practices are emerging in your vocation or profession?

  4. What international standards are in place to support thinking skills in your vocation or profession?
  5. Describe the thinking skills which experts in your profession demonstrate?
  6. What technologies does your profession or vocation use to enhance thinking?

Once you have developed a graduate profile statement you will need to embed it into your course learning outcomes and assessments. We have resources and training which will support your staff.  See our resource
Designing courses for significant learning.

Values:You may like to take time to consider ideas of thinking skills and how it will help your students succeed in the first five years of work. To do this you will need to consult with graduates and employers to see how thinking skills are valued in the workplace. You current students will benefit from a clear explanation of the need for thinking skills in their career and you may like to include this in your student handbook and make it available on your programme site.

People:To ensure you have the information you need to make good decisions about thinking skills, you will need to work closely with students, graduates, employers, and professional bodies. We advise you to set up a consultation project, and survey your stakeholders to gather key information and ideas about thinking skills.

Learn:You will find a centralised and accessible knowledge base which support thinking skills valuable to both staff and students. You could do this through a Moodle site, or any other social network.  The key to success, is to have a knowledge base that is accessible and to which staff and students can contribute resources.

Integrate:Once you have created your thinking skills graduate outcome, it should be embedded into course learning outcomes and assessments. We suggest you map your Information Skills outcome across your programme of study.
For more on Curriculum Mapping....

We also suggest you periodically review the effectiveness of your graduate profile. To do this we have created a short introduction to our student, staff and stakeholder survey.
Find out more here....

If you would like more information or assistance, please contact your Te Puna Ako academic advisors.


Teaching critical thinking. A wonderful site full of resources and ideas.

Instead of To do lists, how about To think lists?

Future work skills 2020: Institute for the future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute

The Truth About How We Think
We're all prey to cognitive mistakes, says Daniel Kahneman in his bestselling book
Thinking, Fast and Slow. But knowing that can help you avoid those mistakes, he explains here.

Last updated by Diana Ayling Jun 5, 2012.

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