Know why you know and how you know so you know more
Updated: Jan 19, 2019
Article originally published in Telegraph Herald's bizTimes.
Kallback, B. (2019). Know why you know and how you know so you know more. bizTimes.
Thinking, like most everything else in life, can be improved as it is reflected upon. In the early 1930s, education philosopher John Dewey defined reflective thinking as “active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it and the further conclusion to which it tends” (Dewey, 1993). Dewey introduced back in 1910 that learning can be improved upon if it is reflected upon. After decades of research, the terms may change (critical thinking or problem solving, for example) but the essence of an intentional process for reflection on learning is an integral trait of a high-impact person, employee, and financial planner.
Loras College holds reflective thinking as one of our four dispositions and places emphasis on it across academic disciplines campus-wide. A liberal arts education focuses great importance on a well-rounded, intellectually curious citizen who can step back and diagnose his or her own thought process to discover biases. Graduates who can think about how they think will contribute and grow over their working career.
Thus, being competent in reflective thinking allows one to relate new knowledge to prior understanding, connect abstract to the real-world, apply specific strategies to tasks, and a depth of personal understanding for learning strategies and strengths.
Challenge old knowledge with new learning
In the 24-48 hours after an intense workout, your “muscle cells not only repair to the level they were at before, but they also complete a repair process that will ensure they’re better able to meet future stressors” (LeFavi, 2015). Benefits of a consistent exercise program allow muscles to get stronger only after breaking them down. In a similar manner, a reflective thinker will challenge and breakdown old ideas and biases. This “ability to change and adapt” leads to an improved aptitude to meet new situations and conversations. (Snyman, 2018, p. 32).
Connect the abstract to the real world
Liberal arts colleges and universities should “go beyond book learning and involve students in inference-making, recognition and evaluation of arguments, deduction, and interpretation” (Ghanizadeh, 2017, p. 111). Yet, a liberal arts’ mission focus must translate to career relevance.
Employers often moan about the lack of real-world skills from recent college graduates. Sure, students can speak to job-related content in academic terms, but can they make the connection to how it actually works in the real-world? When “metacognitive strategies are taught in conjunction with specific subject content, [students] can transfer the generic tips to specific tasks (“Metacognition,” 2018, p. 8). In other words, when reflective thinking strategies are taught amidst course content, it is more meaningful to students who internalize the application to their future careers.
Apply specific learning strategies to different tasks
Yogi Berra stated when you reach a fork in the road…take it. While this may not help you discern a direct route, it forces you to bring a specific strategy to a unique task. It requires you to synthesize past learning available and select what is most appropriate for the situation at hand. As part of reflective thinking, understanding which learning strategy to use ‘‘enables us to direct our activities with foresight and to act in deliberate and intentional fashion” (Ghanizadeh, 2017, p. 110). Similar to knowing which tool from your garage to use for a specific house project, knowing which learning strategy to utilize will increase the chances of a successful outcome.
Know how to think and learn on an individual level.
Many people have a preferred way of doing things, whether involving work, personal life, or exercise. For instance, a person may enjoy their whiskey neat, on the rocks, or mixed with soda or water (for me, ‘neat’ if you were wondering…). Their preference is a result of learning from past experiences. We encounter new information and learning opportunities each and every day. When we are adept at reflective thinking, we know our preferred learning strategies for study and attention to ensure new content is retained.
Reflective thinking is required of any financial planner who commits to the fiduciary standard. A fiduciary is defined as “one who acts in utmost good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the client” (CFP Board, 2018). Inherent in that definition is the phrase “reasonably believes.” A reasonable recommendation is one that integrates the planner’s knowledge of various tools and strategies, and implies the planner can thoughtfully consider options based on the client’s best interest rather than be limited by compensation, sales goals, personal bias, or broker-dealer objectives. “Financial planners should recognize possibilities and use their reasonable professional judgment to identify the best options based on client’s facts and circumstances” (Gillen, 2015, p. 46).
Reflective thinking allows a financial planner to be self-aware and open to new ideas and strategies. Comprehensive financial planning requires a planner to look beyond investments and insurance to holistically analyze a plan and make prudent, selfless recommendations. He or she is able to personalize and understand a preferred learning strategy. When this teaching and transparency occurs, clients are educated. Educated clients are more aware of their financial situation. Awareness leads to “personal and learning development that is regarded as an empowering process” (Snyman, 2018, p. 32). And, empowerment over our finances is an intrinsic objective of our clients.
CFP Board. (2018). For CFP® professionals: Fiduciary duty. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/y7899y4r
Dewey, J. (1993). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Ghanizadeh, A. (2017). The interplay between reflective thinking, critical thinking, self-monitoring, and academic achievement in higher education. Higher Education, 74(1), p. 101.
Gillen, M. (2015). Fiduciary. In Financial planning competency handbook (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 45-49.
LeFavi, B. (2015). Inside The body as it CrossFits. Retrieved from https://www.theboxmag.com/crossfit-training/body-crossfits-11251
Metacognition and self-regulated learning guidance. (2018). Education Journal, Vol. 337, p. 8.
Snyman, M., & Van den Berg, G. (2018). The significance of the learner profile in recognition of prior learning. Adult Education Quarterly, 68(1), pp. 24-40.