There was a recent request for a dialogue regarding a combination of SOI scores from the learning abilities assessment in the area of low evaluation (judgment) skills and high divergent (creative) ability. This is a worthy discussion and as was pointed out, “It is critical for parents and educators to know the consequences of high creativity and low evaluation skills.”
For discussion purposes, it is important to bring convergent ability (problem-solving) into the mix. Low evaluation, higher problem-solving abilities, and creative thinking abilities can often lead an individual into making decisions too quickly before evaluating the outcome. All we have to do is reflect on our own grand ideas that simply did not turn out so grand because we failed to evaluate, prioritize, and compare outcomes. How often we have heard this statement, “Why did I do that?” Our son is a lieutenant in the fire department and he often says that when they arrive on the scene of a fire or accident that very statement is made over and over again. Sadly, we learn there are no do-overs in life, but only better decision-making in the future.
I would like to expand on why it is important to include evaluation, problem-solving, and creative thinking together in understanding the SOI results. SOI refers to problem-solving ability as convergent production: the ability to converge on the solution quickly and accurately. Test taking depends on this ability. Creative thinking is labeled divergent production. How quickly can you diverge from the norm when trying to solve a problem? When both abilities are high, the mind works quickly to solve problems and may do so in unconventional ways. This last sentence delivers us to the importance of applying evaluation abilities to the process. The importance of stopping for that single moment to consider the outcomes.
Not only through school experiences, but through life, the ability to use judgment strongly impacts outcomes. Unfortunately, it is common knowledge that juvenile delinquents and adult offenders demonstrate low abilities to use evaluation/judgment skills. It is important to note that, even when faced with this difficult population, SOI is able to begin the process of strengthening evaluation. The SOI materials used to do so guide an individual through many different types of exercises that teach from the basic to the more complex skills of prioritizing, comparing, and applying best choices and decisions.
I once worked with a fourth grade student named David. He was always getting into trouble in school and everyone, including David, was frustrated and concerned. When David was assessed on the SOI learning abilities assessment, it revealed a very low level of evaluation, average problem-solving and very high creative thinking. He actually was a master at trying to talk around every incident that occurred by blaming others or making excuses. I started David on the beginning SOI evaluation materials that asked him to find the shapes that were the same or different or the shapes that were most alike. At first he hurried through the pages getting many wrong. Slowly, he started to slow down and really pay attention to the questions and his answers.
David’s mother came in with him for his session one day to tell me the following story as reported to David’s teacher by a teaching assistant at recess. “I found David sitting on the bench with his head in his hands. I asked him if he was feeling alright. He raised his head and shared that he was thinking really, really hard and it made his head feel heavy.” After school, David came up to his teacher and asked if she had noticed that he did not get into trouble that day. The mother said his teacher praised him. David said that he was anxious to get home to tell his mother and then to tell me. I remain friends with this family. David passed the bar examination four years ago.
I urge parents and teachers to inquire about the importance of developing evaluation ability. Assisting in the development of comprehension, memory, evaluation, problem-solving, and creativity is certainly a goal of SOI programs. However, when evaluation ability is low, other higher abilities may not be quickly recognized or appreciated. SOI is eager to share in the development of successful learners, strong leaders, and positive members of our communities.
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written by: Diane Hochstein, President of SOI Service Company