Dr. Steve Taylor

Phone: (309) 438 - 8772

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General Course Competencies

What Are We Trying To Accomplish? 

The purpose of this class, and in fact this educational program, is to promote your intellectual development to the fullest possible extent. In order to achieve this end, it is instructive to recognize that cognitive abilities can be measured on a continuum from simple to complex (Angelo and Cross 1993). The Bloom taxonomy continues to represent a most popular and influential continuum of cognitive abilities:

  • Knowledge - Recalling specific facts or general concepts.
  • Comprehension—Demonstrating the lowest level of understanding. The individual can make use of what is being communicated without necessarily relating it to other material or seeing its fullest implication.
  • Application—Using abstractions in concrete situations. The abstractions may be principles, ideas, and theories that must be remembered and applied.
  • Analysis—Breaking down a communication into its constituent elements. The relationships between ideas are made explicit, and the organization of the communication is understood.
  • Synthesis—Putting together elements to form a whole - arranging elements to constitute a structure not clearly there before.
  • Evaluation—Making judgments about the value of materials and methods for given purposes. The individual can make appraisals that satisfy criteria determined by the instructor or by others

So, what we are seeking to accomplish from an overall perspective is a full development of your cognitive abilities across the spectrum of Bloom's continuum in relation to Marketing theory and practice. In addition, the development of discipline/work-related skills are a necessary component of a Marketing program of studies. Mastering these more pragmatic skills can significantly increase the value of higher education by helping individuals the day-to-day operations of a work environment once they complete their program of studies at ISU. For example:

  • written and oral communication skills are becoming increasingly important in today's workplaces;
  • an awareness of the Marketing literature, and an ability to extract useful information from the body of knowledge are increasingly important skills;
  • organizational and time management skills are increasingly necessary to achieve long-term success within organizations;
  • familiarity and a basic level of technological competence is becoming an increasing expectation, particularly the use of e-mail, the Internet, and office packages (e.g., Microsoft Office 97); and
  • professionalism and attention to detail are increasingly expected of college graduates.

What Is The Path We Will Take To Accomplish These Overall Objectives?

We will use the practice of "questioning" and the concept of "critical thinking" as our guides for our quest to maximize your academic/intellectual potential.  A formal definition of the concept of "critical thinking" can be found by clicking here, and a brief discussion of the important role of "questioning" can be found by clicking here. That is, we will develop strategies and processes that will allow you to interact with the learning process at a far deeper level than you ever have before in your educational experience. Thus, in reality our path will truly transcend discipline-based learning (e.g., Marketing) and provides a strong foundation for life-long learning. 

The desired outcome of critical thinking is enhanced reasoning abilities, or better reasoned judgements. What we would like to eventually accomplish are natural reasoned judgements across Bloom's continuum in relation to Marketing thought and practice. The concept of "reasoning abilities" turns out to be pretty complicated, so perhaps the best way to try to gain an understanding of this concept is to explore the concept of "reasoning" itself. Figure 1 presents a graphic road map for our exploration of "reasoning," and suggests that reasoning is a function of three concepts: traits of the reasoning mind, standards for reasoning, and elements for reasoning.

reasoning1.gif (12755 bytes)

Let's start by considering the elements of reasoning. There are at least eight elements that should experts in critical thinking suggest should be considered when presenting a written or oral explanation of your reasoning. Figure 2 presents these eight elements. You should use Figure 2 as a template for each and every argument or presentation you make throughout your college career (and beyond!). That is, you should implicitly and explicitly address each of the eight elements in your persuasive presentation strategy.

reasoning2.gif (14826 bytes)


In summary, our overall objective is to maximize your cognitive skills while you are part of the College of Business family at ISU. We will measure our relative success in achieving this objective using measures related to Bloom's taxonomy. Our path to develop these cognitive abilities will employ the concept of critical thinking. Fundamental to the concept of critical thinking is the notion of reasoned judgements. Practicing the antecedents of reasoned judgements as identified in Figure 1 above will ensure our eventual success in maximizing your cognitive abilities.

How Will We Know Whether or Not We Were Successful In Achieving Our Goals?

As stated above, we will ultimately rely measures based on Bloom's taxonomy to gauge our relative success in maximizing our cognitive abilities. However, it turns out that measuring such success is challenging at best given the intangible nature of the concepts we are trying to measure. None-the-less, we do have some tools that can provide insight into the efficacy of our quest.

For example, professors look for evidence of critical thinking and the advancement of cognitive skills in a variety of ways. Again, together we will measure our success in developing you to your full intellectual/academic potential by assessing how well you develop the qualities of a critical thinker. Ellis (1997) relates how the American Philosophical Association explored this issue through a special workshop in the late 1980s. The conclusion of this panel of subject matter experts are the following seven qualities of a critical thinker:

  1. Truth-seeking: Critical thinkers seek truth, even if truth is inconsistent with closely-held beliefs.
  2. Open-mindedness: Critical thinkers value honest intellectual disagreement. There is strength in competition between a diversity of ideas.
  3. Analytical: Critical thinkers demand evidence for positions, and considers the consequences of adopting any particular position for all affected parties.
  4. Systematic: Organization and focus are necessary requirements for the process of developing, testing, adopting, and advocating new ideas.
  5. Self-confidence: As critical thinking skills grow, people tend to develop confidence in their ability to judge the merits of and choose between ideas.
  6. Inquisitive: Critical thinkers want to know. Ignorance is neither bliss nor desirable.
  7. Maturity: Critical thinking leads to wisdom born of personal experience and the experience of others (communicated through the literature)

Ellis (1997) has further identified a series of suggestions that students will find useful in becoming a critical thinker. Please consider the following suggestions as a toolbox to drawn from as you begin the process of developing your homework portfolio.

  • Be willing to say, "I don't know."
  • Always define your terms.
  • Practice tolerance.
  • Understand before you start criticizing.
  • Watch for hot sports.
  • Consider the source.
  • Seek out alternative views.
  • Ask questions.
  • Look for at least three answers.
  • Be willing to change your mind.
  • Lay your cards on the table.
  • Examine the problem from different points of view.
  • Write about it.
  • Construct a reasonable view.

Thus, we will be looking for these characteristics in your written and oral communications and arguments. There will be continual assessment and feedback to help you understand your relative progression along this path. In short, this course is designed to challenge and grow your critical thinking skills across all six levels of cognitive ability. For example, you will be asked to not only recall specific facts and general concepts (i.e., knowledge), but also to link abstract ideas to concrete marketing situation (i.e., application) and analyze new concepts and ideas from the literature (i.e., analysis). Toward the end of the semester, you will be asked to demonstrate an ability to synthesize the material across different areas of emphasis (e.g., synthesize a number of ideas from different chapters in the book) and to evaluate the value of alternative marketing strategies. The successful student in this course will be the student who applies these critical thinking skills in moving toward ever-higher levels of cognitive growth.

Mastery of all of the identified skills will be assessed in primarily two ways. First, the tests are designed to emphasize and assess the entire spectrum of cognitive abilities. Second, you will be asked to complete a semester-long home portfolio. Please note that the homework portfolio tends to emphasize the critical thinking and work-related skills explicated above. That is, these work-related skills must be mastered and appropriate critical thinking skills demonstrated in order for you to successfully complete the homework portfolio, which will account for a substantial portion of your grade. Please note that students are encouraged to turn in drafts of their homework portfolios over the course of the semester for comments to guide you in this process. However, please be aware that taking advantage of additional direction becomes increasingly difficult over time as larger numbers of students traditionally attempt to seek feedback toward the end of the semester.

The final issue that merits discussion is the actual assignments of grades. A set of standards was recently published based on a set of common values across many college professors. These descriptions of an "A" versus "B" versus "C" ... student can be found by clicking here. You can anticipate the evaluation of your performance in this course to closely align with these standards.

Please feel free to contact me for further information related to these course competencies at staylor@ilstu.edu