Scholarly article on topic 'Enlivening Fluid Intelligence in Blended Active Learning within the Cognitive Literacy Value Chain Framework'

Enlivening Fluid Intelligence in Blended Active Learning within the Cognitive Literacy Value Chain Framework Academic research paper on "Computer and information sciences"

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{"Higher order thinking" / "active discussion" / transcendence / "cognitive literacy"}

Abstract of research paper on Computer and information sciences, author of scientific article — Mohan Raj Gurubatham

Abstract This is a case based reflection piece drawn from actual experience of successful teaching and blended action learning practices and principles. The cases were drawn from actual interactive teaching and learning in graduate programs in Malaysia, the U.S. A., and South Africa. The experience of teaching and learning involving metacognition and active online discussion internationally is described in terms of the cognitive literacy value chain developed by the author. The need for fluid intelligence in higher order thinking in a globalized knowledge economy is discussed in terms of the development of wisdom through the experience of transcending conventional thinking while sustaining refined thought processes and cultural values. Sample comments from reflection journals are presented.

Academic research paper on topic "Enlivening Fluid Intelligence in Blended Active Learning within the Cognitive Literacy Value Chain Framework"


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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 123 (2014) 238 - 248

TTLC 2013

Enlivening Fluid Intelligence in Blended Active Learning within the Cognitive Literacy Value Chain Framework

Mohan Raj Gurubatham*

HELP University, Kuala Lumpur, Wisma HELP Jalan Dungun, 50490 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


This is a case based reflection piece drawn from actual experience of successful teaching and blended action learning practices and principles. The cases were drawn from actual interactive teaching and learning in graduate programs in Malaysia, the U.S. A., and South Africa. The experience of teaching and learning involving metacognition and active online discussion internationally is described in terms of the cognitive literacy value chain developed by the author. The need for fluid intelligence in higher order thinking in a globalized knowledge economy is discussed in terms of the development of wisdom through the experience of transcending conventional thinking while sustaining refined thought processes and cultural values. Sample comments from reflection journals are presented.

©2013 TheAuthors.Published byElsevierLtd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of TTLC2013. Keywords: Higher order thinking; active discussion; transcendence; cognitive literacy

1. Introduction

As a professor in academia bridging the corporate consulting space the author has detected a recurrent complaint from CEOs concerning MBAs and management graduates. The complaint is that the mere competency to comprehend texts, articles, and subject matter is inadequate. What is deemed paramount and urgent is an ability to connect pertinent business and industry themes inductively in order to effectively respond to global and industry drivers. Given a rapid obsolescence of knowledge it is no longer enough that learners comprehend texts, articles, and concepts. The ability to 'learn how to learn', and to process unfamiliar content is the future. "Fluid intelligence' is the critical ability to learn new content and consider application into novel far reaching conditions or contexts. 'Crystallized intelligence' is the retrieval or recall, and the routine acquisition of prior content (Cattell,

* Corresponding author. Tel.: 603-2711-200; fax: 603-30947495. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Organizing Committee of TTLC2013. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.01.1420

1963). It represents the "what" of knowledge. Fluid intelligence is process driven and transforms data into information, knowledge through to wisdom. It is the high order "how" and "why" and "so what?" of intelligence. Much of fluid intelligence outcomes are higher order thinking products such as insights, and synthesis. Fluid intelligence may be enhanced or stimulated by active discussion based learning. Moreover, processing data into information and then into knowledge through to higher order cognitive activity such as applications in novel conditions or contexts results in both critical, insightful knowledge and wisdom ( Gurubatham , 2005a) in the 'Cognitive Literacy Value Chain' .

Wisdom may be operationalized into higher order intelligence while appreciating and anticipating the practical impacts of decisions (Schwartz, 2011). The more current hallmarks of such an approach to wisdom firstly, are being visionary spatially across contexts and geography; and temporally, across past, present and future. Secondly, having broad comprehension, inclusivity and scope (Izak, 2013). Thirdly, a deep appreciation of decisional impacts. (McKenna, 2004, McKenna & Biloslavo, 2011). Moreover the sustainable impacts of trans-disciplined longer term thinking of inherent interconnections in disciplines and concepts are emphasized (Max-Neef, 2005). This is a central theme in modern education as it rises to meet the onslaught of globalization (Jorgenson and Shultz, 2012), and the pressures of a knowledge economy (Gurubatham, 2005a). The ability to identify drivers impacting organizations along with the ability to recommend innovative solutions based on critical and inclusive thinking are essential. Traditional MBAs and textbook approaches may fall short of this. There is a relentless demand in this 21st century of change and emerging markets for knowledge value addition. It commands a premium in human capital to include higher value-added thinking that is capable of insights across themes, with the adaptability to implement best practices company-wide and nationally, and the ability to assess and enhance the relationship of business impact with relevant stakeholders and communities. This article aims to highlight the salience of higher order thinking as an emergent theme in terms of the various strategies deployed to invoke reflection and metacognition. It is as such a position paper.

2. Legitimacy for the learning cases and approach

This position paper is not a specific controlled study partitioned into a one-to-one linear particularistic tracking of a specific methodology. In short, it is drawn from a constructivist paradigm of over 30 classroom cases of immersion into a milieu of teaching and learning procedures where online discussion is a major reinforcing component albeit not the only component in the process of active learning. The conclusions and samples are drawn from several classes over 4 years in 3 countries. The samples of refection and discussion selected represent the typical content. A formal systematic content analyses of each component and the coding of responses beyond rubrics is of course welcome. Nonetheless the overall emergent theme represents the prominence of discussion that occurs as an expressive opportunity from personal metacognition along with meditation in short 2-6 week time frames. The real world case based discussion may be difficult to control for in pre-and-post-tests because of social facilitation effects in any specific methodology with control groups. In addition. These classes presented themselves as rare and valuable international classroom settings with intact, formally enrolled learner populations on actual accredited courses.

The author applied teaching learning strategies, involving 'metacognition', or reflective activity. Graduate courses were offered in the managerial psychology at HELP University in Malaysia and at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) accredited in the United States of America by the Higher Learning Commission and The International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education which is recognized by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). MUM also offers an action learning corporate MBA program for managers at Neotel, a telecommunications corporation in South Africa. All courses were taught in a blocks, or modules, in varied formats amongst the three venues, ranging from two to six weeks in duration but shared the commonalty of one subject matter module at a time. Especially remarkable was the steep learning curve in which students attained reflective and higher order thinking in the relatively short 6 week period of time. Active discussion on the Moodle e-learning platform was found to catalyze the development of insightful thinking. Learning was encultured and encouraged as 'Self exploration' with a 'connectedness to community and cosmos' with the inclusion of affect. Emotional intelligence targeted 'values of the heart' i.e., refined feeling levels in order to enculture not just higher order thinking but also practical wisdom.

Change drivers and evolving trends in sustainability and government or international regulations are discussed in classroom settings that made use of e-learning enabled blended learning - for example, Moodle discussion boards to facilitate the 'far transfer' of learning. Far transfer is understood as applying conceptual learning beyond the original learning contexts so that higher order principles are gleaned, abstracted, and applied in a variety of seemingly unrelated contexts (Salomon &Perkins, 1989). Far transfer involves metacognitions or reflective thinking at the higher end of the 'Cognitive Literacy Value Chain'. Fluid intelligence is more directly involved in far transfer at this level of the cognitive literacy value chain. Far transfer is part and parcel of fluid intelligence. Far transfer is effective in mitigating rapid obsolescence in knowledge and skills. 'Near transfer' often involves the 'low road' of learning with strategies by rote, pattern or template matching and impacts only a limited range of variability in the contexts from original learning. Behavioral learning is much like this.

Oftentimes there is a need to disconnect from conventional narratives and wisdom. Learners also have to make practical, and sometimes hard, decisions in life. There is a need to be more than just 'aware', sensitive or merely just capable of reflection. All the courses included themes as a running thread such as ethics, spirituality, race, interfaith relations, and conflict resolution. Other themes covered were the ways in which globalization is oftentimes framed as mere consumerism and the ways in which sustainability has to go beyond just being 'green' to include the preservation of cultural values and relationships.

Course content was based on current topics and real cases, involving provocative issues with real companies. Videos on current 'hot-button' topics were viewed; there was action syndicated learning i.e., 'learning by doing', and an articulation of the thinking process through student presentations to the class with peer probing and feedback. Additionally, there was Socratic prompting, exercises in 'thinking on your feet', personal reflection in learning journals, and online Moodle discussion boards. The online discussions required each student to present at least two 'hot button' topics and give insightful responses to two topics posted by other students. The postings had to include not just passive descriptions, but explanations of why the student found it personally interesting and insightful, and how it might be culturally impactful in the 21st century. Learning this way was taking place beyond the classroom walls and enlivening engaged peers. Personal learning journals were entered from preconfigured electronic templates containing 'thought' prompts. The Moodle discussion boards provided a highly communal context, and with rubric based grading; the process also seemed to acquire a momentum of its own. As a result, at least on a small scale mini scale, community simulations of networks were initiated and enlivened very much in the manner alluded to in Metcalfe's Law (Metcalfe, 2006). This law suggests that the value of adding additional participants to a network in in a community increases exponentially if value is conceived of as insight spontaneously emerging from harnessing a diversity of viewpoints. This indeed happened. The discussion based learning was peer-driven, flat, and not moderated by the professor. Sample comments are presented at the end of the paper.

3. Conceptual model for teaching and learning

The core teaching and learning approach drew from the theory of high road learning involving metacognition by Salomon and Perkins (1989). Such an approach demands pushing the boundaries of concept application that transcend localized boundaries in time and space. It often invokes the fluid intelligence across contexts. Cross-cultural applications of best practices were mindfully and critically discussed both face-to-face and online, and explored for their current relevance. Figure 1 presents the schematic called the Cognitive Literacy Value Chain (Gurubatham , 2005a) and is followed by a discussion of the process of activation in the teaching and learning commonalities of underlying themes and principles for higher order thinking.


<D o .<= EC

Higher Level Cognitive Skills, 'meta-cognition'

Empathizes with traditional peoples

Y • Creates Sustainable Marketing • Evaluates diverse stakeholders

• Analyses Market Trends for

Sustainable Market Trends

Adapts Core Human Capital Process Reengineering from best practice/troubleshootin

• Operates HRIS/CRM Software Applications _

* Recalls and comprehends procedures

Range of Knowledge Transfer and Competency Impacts

Fig 1. The Cognitive Literacy Value Chain

The higher order thinking skills are at the top right of the Cognitive Literacy Value Chain. They involve far transfer and invoke fluid intelligence. Wisdom is at the uppermost level of the cognitive literacy value chain. Wisdom is essentially deeper and wider thinking. Wisdom evaluates, empathizes, analyses as well as integrates, and also subsumes the lower cognitive levels of thinking. More critically, wisdom's effectiveness rests on the ability to yield insight that derives from more than the 'sum-of-parts' of data. This process, which can be modeled on hierarchies such as Bloom's Taxonomy, often involves affective and ethical dimensions of human judgment. Far transfer thinking was nudged out of the box and conventional narratives deconstructed from cases and topics, facts as declarative knowledge were presented, and actively discussed by the instructor while being available as electronic content. The top right section of Figure 1 is shown, i.e., Non-Routine Thinking and Far Transfer Competency Impacts, Socratic prompts asked were "who are the protagonists" and "what are the drivers impacting an organization, a country, a region, and a culture". "How are they similar or different?" These were analyzed with appropriate tools by discussion and then prioritized and quantified. For example, the process of stakeholder mapping for conflict resolution was illustrated by involving a business case of a timber monopoly in East Malaysia, its business activities were threatening, traditional peoples such as the Penan; stakeholder values were carefully identified, explored and analyzed with strategic tools from both from a commercial and from sustainable perspectives.

Status quo thinking is routine. Fluid intelligence transcends the 'frozen' contexts. Invocation of fluid intelligence for unfreezing contexts, processing information into knowledge and insightful practical wisdom across contexts is part and parcel of reflection metacognition and active blended learning with the use of online discussing and multimedia presentations of different perspectives. Unfreezing the given status quo schema of conflict began with a negotiation of interests and values, escalating to a consideration of rights, and culminating in the resolution of issues of power which were found to be positive, resulting in win-win outcomes for all parties. 'Etic' and 'emic' perspectives i.e., within the culture and neutral stances were exchanged by syndicated learners in stakeholder role analysis. Similarly, other stakeholders were identified and their roles scoped, for example, the logging company and its employees, shareholders, the state government, environmental activists, and sustainability conscious consumers.

Cases were explored from multiple perspectives through active discussions in both face-to-face and online forums. Engaging videos from different stakeholders' perspectives were presented and shared electronically as 'Youtube' links. The use of this media for active blended learning engages and involves (Gurubatham, 2005b) learners by being able to see hear and feel the perspectives and emotions of different roles and contexts. Additionally the uses of central and peripheral routes of persuasion (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986) are attention arousing and engaging. Peripheral routes make use of graphics, audio, and music to attract attention. Central routes are more deeply cognitive to activate audience schemas by engaging with compelling narratives. High involvement and high interactivity were design features exploited in information and communication technology (ICT) enabled learning (Gurubatham, 2005b). Interactivity is ergonomic or more concerned with the usability driven features of the Moodle environment that provide the learners the functionality to respond, comment, and post. While involvement is higher order thinking and emotional bonding which is triggered upon hot button interests in topics. Additionally there were presentations of diverse viewpoints and role plays by learners. Outcomes such as evaluation, analysis, and the creation of plans and policies involved lively discussions, which were interactive, reflective, and oftentimes resulted in the unfreezing of the learners' unconscious assumptions and biases. Critical thinking within syndicated peer groups together with instructor coaching provided the checks and balances necessary when using strategic thinking tools in inductive learning. Online discussion boards on Moodle were not moderated, were respectful, and captured controversial themes.

The lower half of Figure 1 illustrates the more localized impact of routine thinking. This section involves predominantly crystalized intelligence which is the expression of well learned scripts or schemas, already established as the "whats" of content knowledge not the process of cognition. Teaching and learning at this level does not have to invoke higher order critical thinking, nor does it have to unfreeze unconscious assumptions or biases - except, perhaps, for the purpose of adapting best practices to locally or organizationally specific needs. Troubleshooting is another example. Troubleshooting best practice methods can be stored in electronic repositories so that learners have only to read, understand, refer, and apply with coaching. Troubleshooting outcomes here emphasize procedural accuracy or 'template matching 'from pattern recognition paradigms. Troubleshooting skills require operational flexibility beyond routine thinking but not necessarily higher order thinking. They are low level and knowledge management is more appropriate, and not necessarily online higher order thinking discussion. Transfer of prior learning to current tasks is thus 'near'. In the hierarchy of knowledge, data represents the lowest value of information. For example, much of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) today are procedural, and is enacted typically at an operational level that can be outsourced or automated by information technology so as to require little or no vigilance by human operators. In the 21st century, this level of the chain has little competitive advantage. For example, process checks in quality control can be automated.

This level of information processing involves the interpretation of data. Typical activities at this level include quickly recognizing critical quality parameters such as in statistical process control, inputting unique customer data in Customer Relationship Applications (CRM) while on-line, and recognizing key or salient customer information in call-centre tasks. These activities elicit perceptual competencies. They are low level.

4. Generic Learning format - Enlivening Self-exploration and metacognition (learning how to learn, fluid

intelligence, blended active learning within the cognitive literacy value chain).

For the most part, classes were held on-site at three locations: MUM in the U.S.A., HELP University in Malaysia, and the Neotel Corporation in South Africa. The courses were short but intensive and included blended learning. At MUM, the classes were taught as part of the MBA in global strategic management and were comprised of blocks spanning from two weeks to four weeks. At HELP University, the Masters in Managerial Psychology had modules of six weeks. The Neotel Corporation in South Africa had a six week block.

In addition another modality, a meditative technique popularly known as Transcendental Meditation (TM) was learned and practiced by many students at Neotel in South Africa, at MUM in the U.S.A., and at HELP University in Malaysia. This was not a random assignment of subjects to meditation as a treatment variable, such as would have been the case in a formal comparative study with pre-test and post-test evaluations. The experiential comments below, which were reported by these meditating students, are explored in the context of unfreezing prior schemas to facilitate higher order thinking in the cognitive literacy value chain and creativity, to enable insight, transparent thought processes, and deeper and wider thinking. They effectively capture fluid intelligence, the far transfer of applications, self-exploration and transcendence via active discussion. Historically, there have been several controlled studies on research in TM that have shown increased creativity and wisdom, or 'thinking out -of-the-box'. What emerges as salient is the ability to process information as opposed to just recalling and recognizing learned data or information. However TM was also found to improve lower level perceptual cognitive tasks such as these. More importantly however is the ability to learn new content through fluid intelligence. Processing data into information then into higher order cognitive activity results in knowledge and wisdom.

This is a central theme in modern education with the onslaught of globalization pressures in the knowledge economy (Gurubatham, 2005a). Most mainstream standardized tests of intelligence test or IQ tests utilize both fluid and another type of intelligence called 'crystallized intelligence' (Cattell, 1963). Crystallized intelligence involves acquired knowledge, is content based and where content can be revised. Fluid intelligence is process based and is said to be highly vulnerable to aging, (Lee et al., 2005) peaking at the early twenties. Therein lays the challenge for lifelong learning and nurturing productive human capital. How can fluid intelligence be enlivened and sustained for the information onslaught posed by ICT? Also how can adaptation pressures be balanced with the wisdom of sustainability and preserving cultural integrity?

5. A brief review of previous research follows

Creativity was suggested to have been enhanced in TM practitioners (Travis, 1979, Jedrczak, Beresford, and Clements, 1985). Divergent thinking is highly correlated with low frequency EEG psychophysiological states of consciousness. Self-reports describe a process free of mood control and manipulation; rather, it's an innocent, fluid, and spontaneous experience. Again, highly relaxed states of consciousness in transcending are correlated with spontaneous creativity (Molle et al, 1996). The noted British psychologist Guy Claxton has argued that 'creativity is lost without an instinctive ability to access free-floating mental states' (2002). In comparison, TM is reported to be a natural process of contacting the source of thought, which is experienced as a field of pure creative intelligence. Fluid intelligence, as well as general intelligence, has been found to significantly increase with TM as shown by longitudinal controlled studies and random assignments. The practice of TM is found to: increase intelligence as measured by standardized tests (Jedrczak, Beresford, and Clements, 1985; Dilbeck et al, 1985; Jedrczak, Toomey, and Clements, 1986); develop culture fair intelligence as operationalized in terms of inspection time with control groups (Tim, S.K. & Orme-Johnson 2001); result in higher levels of moral reasoning as shown in longitudinal studies with children, as well as in studies with adult inmates in maximum security incarceration in California, according to Kohlberg's stage development mode as reviewed by Alexander (Alexander, et al. 1993); and culture 'wisdom' as shown in a 10-year longitudinal study (Chandler, 1990). Other studies on TM have shown increased field independence, which is indicative of perception that is not unduly influenced by the environment (Gelderloos, Lockie, Chutoorgoon, 1987); increased flexibility of perception and improved verbal problem solving (Dilbeck, 1982); increased creativity along with increased fluid and culture fair intelligence (Dillbeck, Assimakis, Raimondi, Orme-Johnson, & Rowe, 1986; Tim, S.K. & Orme-Johnson, 2001); and increased brain wave coherence, which is indicative of orderliness of thinking (Travis, Tecce, Arenander , Wallace, 2002).

In this era of globalization, there is a critical need for higher order, or higher value-added thinking, facilitated by high road strategies such as metacognition. The pressures of globalization demand responses, or optimal responses, to meet the challenges of change drivers that are apparently relentless. What is needed, today, is the cognitive ability to synthesize from diverse cultural schemata the patterns of shared norms and values that exist in latent groups, patterns that can be identified by using cues, appreciating other cultures with more refined values of consciousness, and being cognizant of the universality in humanity while being respectful of differences (Gurubatham, 2001). Yet there is a need to be grounded in one's own 'transcendent Self' for stability while, at the same time, appreciative of the cherished and diverse values of cultural integrity and political sovereignty. Spiritual aspirations of this goal can be found in both eastern and western psychology. For example, Maslow (1971) refers to the 'Psychology of Being' and the Veda or 'knowledge' in Sanskrit espouses the value of transcendence and the essential unity underling diversity, which is expressed in the Sanskrit phrase ' vasudeva kutumbutam': 'The world is my family.' Established in one's true transcendental Self beyond the ego in Being, one never feels threatened by outside influences. William James (1996) wrote of this same state of consciousness in the Pluralistic Universe. Also contributing to the conversation were Martin Heidegger (1962) and Soren Kierkegaard (1985).

Globalization and the relentless pace of technological evolution are exerting great pressures on the obsolescence cycles of crystallized or acquired, knowledge, a dynamic that is commensurate with Moore's Law (Liddle, 2006) which states that raw computing power doubles every 18 months along with an exponentially increasing bandwidth and lowering network costs. The pressures of globalization in an information age are creating challenges for those who do not choose to keep up with the rapidly upgrading ICT as they become available. At the same time, those who choose to increase knowledge via interactive media are being given exponentially growing opportunities. New platforms are providing lower costs, greater reach, and user-friendly design features. More power in computer processing is enabling higher speeds, greater memory capacities, and increasing network bandwidth. Curiously, the ICT enabled outward-looking, global knowledge economy also demands that we turn inward and 'learn how to learn'. Both self-knowledge and active engagement with other learners are necessary. Social media and online Moodle discussions give the student exposure to different perspectives and a potential for enriching value exponentially (Metcalfe, 2006). However, interactivity per se is not enough. A high level of involvement is required. Topics must be 'hot buttons' that are close to the student's heart, engaging personal interests and values (Gurubatham 2005b). Using this strategy along with the lively discussion of such topics with peers, such interactivities can facilitate further insights into one's own values and outlook.

Brief sample comments are culled from the reflection learning journals which students are required to document in a standard template are presented below.

5.1. Malaysian graduate from HELP University in Malaysia's Master's in Managerial Psychology in metacognition (transcendence and self-exploration), blended active learning, and fluidity in the cognitive literacy value chain:

• Explore a learning experience...

• Awareness (transcendence and self-exploration).

• Fluidity leading to Insight and Evaluation/Application (for far transfer via active blended learning).

• Content into (fluidity in the cognitive literacy value chain) awareness. What have I learnt?

".I felt as if I am moving upwards a stairs pretty quickly, being able to see more things clearer as I go higher. Interestingly, I managed to go up higher by going deeper into myself and spend time doing reflection after learning something new. I am new in terms of career building and I am glad that I am learning so much to be able to adjust my views accordingly. Personally, I felt that I see how one can develop even further in various ways."

". I truly appreciate that I have the opportunity to learn the module in various ways and where most of the methods were fun and interactive. In both online discussion and classes, everyone was allowed to share freely and respect was showed, even between course leader and students. The reading was actually made easy as it was a short

course and good reading materials have been handpicked and the only thing we need to do is just read/ Reflection was also essential for me to often check my progress and clarify my thoughts... "

• Process (How) into Insight (fluidity and active blended learning) How did I learn/do it?

"... The different models of learning allowed me to learn and think critically in different ways.

I felt as if learning took place all the time as after classes, there were online discussions and brainstorming on group projects, I mainly learned much from course mates rather than theorists in books... "

". Learning never stopped after the module ends as to be frank; I still have some reading materials that I was not able to finish reading during the modules."

• Application into Evaluation (transcendence and self-exploration)

".It is relieving to know that many times spirituality plays a role too. It is important to pay attention to self and tune in with nature. I always feared that I may not know enough to live a better life, not knowing enough vocabularies to understand concepts but instead, it turned out that I have learned how important it is to not let words shape our thinking. It is true; our mind is too magnificent for us to label its processes. Ironically, the process to succeed is simple enough, to summarize in words like 'Just follow your bliss'."

5.2. Strategic Human Capital Management by an African Corporate MBA student:

• Content (what) into Awareness (fluidity and active blended learning in the cognitive literacy value chain).

".The beauty of this was how easily we managed to relate to internal challenges within Neotel. Working with large teams is indeed challenging as we try to derive maximum productivity, efficiencies whilst also trying to keep them constantly motivated..".

".Highlighted in the process was competency levels - where we actually are and where we would like to be at various periods and just as importantly how we can utilise competency levels to our advantage... "

• Process (How) into Awareness (fluidity and active blended learning)

".I must admit the current process is different to learning experience to date. Whereas in the past I have become accustomed to a physical presence of an instructor during classes, this course has somewhat become a combination of distance learning with the use of technology to create a virtual impression instructor presence (video conference, Skype etc.). Being from Durban we felt we were at a disadvantage compared to the Johannesburg team."

• Content into Insight (active blended learning)

". As a group we brainstormed all factors (internal and external), strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to list key issues relating to competency within our department in Neotel (Field Services). We looked at our successes, and how we actually delivered on those. We also looked at strengths and weaknesses and how best we could utilise these to positively differentiate us from our competitors. After quantifying this we were able to pick key strategic initiatives that were actually worth focusing on."

• Content into Evaluation /Application (far transfer fluidity)

".As an organisation we are driven by revenues and customer satisfaction.

Mapping key areas highlighted against models (Ulrich and Brockbank HR Value proposition and Value maps), we were able to illustrate how strategy and assessment of organisation relates to this. It proved to be very valid and also brought about different approaches to thinking.

5.3. Strategic Analysis and Management by an American student in term of invoking fluid intelligence and metacognition (transcendence and self-exploration) for higher order far transfer applications:

• Explore a learning experience...

• Awareness leading to Insight and Evaluation/Application

• Higher order thinking applied to content in the cognitive literacy value chain into what have I learnt?

"I've learned how to think broadly in terms of scalability, planning, managing, organizing and prioritizing. I also learned how to think critically by learning how use strategic tools. By also leveraging online knowledge tools, I was able to clearly see that one can develop a balanced method of strategically planning be it for an organization or one's own life".

• What is the underlying benefit of this process? Metacognition (transcendence and fluidity in learning how to learn)

"Learning to think in such a manner helps one to develop a clear picture of the outer (business, economic, social, political, environment, etc.) and inner (consciousness, Self-knowledge, spirituality, etc.) landscape of life".

"The inner and outer landscapes are both part of the transcendental therefore they can be transcended. What this means is that much like the way we use the TM technique to develop and refine our inner landscape, we can use tools of analysis to strategically manage or align the outer landscape".

• How (fluidity) do I come up with a good strategic plan?

"To come up with a good strategic plan be it for life or an organization, one has to observe, analyze and continuously survey the inner (mental) and outer landscape (objective). This allows one to be in tune with nature and refine that subtle awareness that can be used to help one spontaneously obtain deep and clear insights into whatever is the current focus of one's attention".

• Process (fluidity) how did I learn/do it? Enlivening blended active learning with peers online and face-to-face.

"By being exposed to management issues (online discussion) from companies and growing economies that buck the trend when it comes to management, economic and social policies. Being able to discuss openly and collaborate with other people from diverse work and ethnic backgrounds facilitated a deeper comprehension of the topics discussed simply from hearing other people articulate perspectives and opinions".

• How effective is this strategy (higher order thinking applied to content in the cognitive literacy value chain)?

This strategy allows one to appreciate the concepts by being able to not only fully comprehend them but also by being able to take practical and actionable steps to implement them immediately. For example, after learning how to use the Environmental Factor Evaluation and other tools we started to analysis the Nokia Finland case thereby speeding up the process of comprehending the tool and its purpose.

• How can I make this strategy more effective (higher order thinking applied to content in the cognitive literacy value chain)?

By realizing that there's no way to completely eliminate or avoid all the risks inherent in life. However, by focusing ones awareness and being constantly open to change, allows for spontaneity and creativity in solving personal and business strategic management issues.

5.4. Meditating Muslim graduate from HELP University in Malaysia's Master's in Managerial Psychology from the Maldives on the experience of transcendence and self-exploration; and fluidity in perceptions of unity in diversity:

".Now after several months of meditation, I am more lively, energetic and happy. I feel light and its easier for me to concentrate and be attentive. I feel more motivated and hopeful towards life. On a second note, I noticed just after I meditate all my senses are sharper. The moment I open my eyes, I see things more clearly, as if I'm seeing for the first time. I take a deep breath and feel fresh air spill my lungs and I feel so great to be alive. I feel thankful for being me and appreciate every little thing that has made me who I am. The positive energy and clear consciousness and relating to the inner being help me see the world in a different way and appreciate life. That makes me treat others and everything around me in a caring and loving way because the enlightened state of mind awaked to appreciate and care for every little thing in my surrounding. I feel responsible and bounded to every life on earth.."

Overall, 80 percent of the students' attained mastery of concepts as measured in terms of the higher value added outcomes such as utilizing strategic management tools in scenario planning, analyzing, prognosticating and recommending strategies in contemporary global managerial psychology and business cases. It was noteworthy because many of the students had little or no prior knowledge of neither psychology nor business content in their prior majors. Often times the higher levels of strategic evaluation invoked a richer understanding of global business drivers, balanced with a fine grain understanding of diverse stakeholder psychology. Globalization and the knowledge economy demand responses or optimal responses to change drivers that are apparently relentless. What is needed is the cognitive ability that can synthesize the existing patterns of shared norms and values, from cultural schemata in latent groups such as found in cues yet respectful of differences ( Gurubatham, 2001). Active debate is enabled by blended learning that allows for reflection beyond the classroom walls, and forays into a virtual world via videos, and links to foreign websites.


This paper will have not have been possible without HELP University Malaysia and Maharishi University of Management U.S.A., and the Neotel Corporation in South Africa.


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