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What is the essence of competitions and how does it help learners?
Thanks to our guest author Bob Schoenherr
Competitions enable students to use their critical thinking skills to a much high level than in a normal classroom environment. A competition is a way to introduce students to real stress that they may face in their future careers. How we harness that stress and use it to our advantage is a true critical thinker.
Competitions help to narrow the scope of the critical thinking. What I mean is that when someone is learning critical thinking skills they need to eliminate distractions that will keep them from putting all their ideas together.
NetRiders is an excellent example of eliminating distractions because the competition is based on a known theme, CCNA networking. This allows the student to prepare for the competition with a known range of skills and ideas. Once you confident in these ideas you are ready to test them in a way that is more challenging than just an exam or lab assignment.
In a competition you are comparing your ability to use what concepts have been learned during a discovery based evaluation of your skills that includes critical thinking. When you know the answer immediately it motivates you to continue in the competition and builds your confidence. When you struggle with an answer is when you really learn more about your ability to piece items together, this starts the critical thinking cycle.
Those that perform best in a competition don’t know all the answers but can use their thinking process to get the best answer for what they know and are confident that the answer will be correct.
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