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Critical Thinking and Communication Skills

Assignment: Individual Paper

Scroll down to see the Required business document

Analyze the business document below (scroll down), applying all 8 steps of the critical thinking framework model discussed in the US Army Management Staff College AMSC Critical Thinking report (citing Dr. Richard Paul model) at  Post this assignment in the assignment folder by the end of week 2.

You are using the 8 step method disseminated by Roy Eichhorn, Strategic Systems Department, Army Management Staff College, in the report entitled,DEVELOPING THINKING SKILLS: CRITICAL THINKING AT THE ARMY MANAGEMENT STAFF COLLEGE in section COMPONENTS OF CRITICAL THINKING AT AMSC.

From the ASMC report: ”

THE AMSC PHILOSOPHY ON CRITICAL THINKING  […] We are often asked why we go to the effort of trying to teach critical thinking; people already know how to think. The first answer to this question is that yes, we all think, but do we do it well and are we able to evaluate the quality of our thinking? […] Dr. Paul responded to this question with the statement that reflects our philosophy: “We are always thinking, the question is, are we in charge of our thinking, or is our thinking in charge of us?”

The following is one of Dr. Paul’s definitions of critical thinking that summarizes our approach:

  • “Critical thinking is the ability to think about one’s thinking in such a way as:
  1. to recognize its strengths and weaknesses and, as a result,
  2. to recast the thinking in improved form.

Such thinking about one’s thinking involves the ability to identify the basic elements of thought (purpose, question, information, assumption, interpretation, concepts, implications, point of view) and assess those elements using universal intellectual criteria and standards (clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, and logicalness).”

In a short paper (7-8 double-spaced pages) apply all of the steps of the critical thinking model to assess the arguments made in the memo.  Include all of the steps. Leaving out discussion of steps will adversely affect your grade.  You must include all 8 of the AMSC steps.  As the final 9th step in the paper, use the content on fallacies in Almossawi, Ali (2013). An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments – to identify any fallacies in the memo. Although not necessary for a passing grade, answers to some of the questions may be enhanced by doing additional research.

Remember that your task here is to evaluate the author’s argument as objectively as possible, not to give your own opinions on the issue.  Be sure to use the analytical points as set out in the critical thinking report, not your own thoughts on the issue.

The citations and the reference list in the paper should be formatted in accordance with the APA guidelines.

Objective 2:  Use a critical thinking framework to evaluate alternative courses of actions and reach sound decisions in workplace situations.


Recommendation for Revision of Penn-Mart’s Health Care Strategy

Memorandum to the Board of Directors from Salvador Monella, SVP, Human Resources

  1. Purpose

This memorandum is to update you on our efforts to review and revise Penn-Mart’s healthcare benefits strategy. Last fall the board asked my office to examine what Penn-Mart could do to control the spiraling costs of employee healthcare benefits.  In response to the board’s concerns about unfavorable cost trends, I recently led a team in evaluating Penn-Mart’s approach to benefits, and developing a plan to revise the Penn-Mart healthcare strategy.  We are prepared to share with you a brief, high level overview of our considerations and our final recommendations.  In short, we recommend that Penn-Mart institute a wellness initiative consisting of a mandatory health screening program for all employees enrolled in the company-sponsored health plans.

  1. Findings

Our internal research has showed that wages and benefits make up roughly 40 percent of our annual budget.   Growth in benefits costs is unacceptable and is driven by fundamental and persistent root causes such as an aging workforce with increasing average tenure.   Benefits costs could consume as much as 15 percent of our total profits in 2015.  Employee surveys demonstrate that employees are overall highly satisfied with their benefits.   The least healthy, least productive employees are more satisfied with their benefits than other segments and are interested in longer careers with Penn-Mart.  It is not fair to the young and fit, to allow those who are not to be a drag on earnings.  Our research indicates employees overall are highly opposed to traditional cost-control measures such as higher deductibles for health insurance.

Data from our underwriters indicates that individuals who voluntarily neglect their health account for the greatest impact on the growth in benefits costs.  This group includes smokers, those who do not exercise, and those who defer preventative care.  Therefore we should require preventative care of everyone at Penn-Mart.  The best way to do this is through a mandatory wellness program.   Penn-Mart has for ten years offered wellness programs on a voluntary basis.  Data from our group health underwriters indicates that participation in these voluntary programs peaked at 5% of total FTE’s in 2006.[1]  It is time to get everyone involved.

  1. Recommendations

Our recommendations are expected to have significant positive impact on the health care cost curve for Penn-Mart.

Our team recommends:

  • That every current benefits-enrolled employee be required to complete biometric health screeningno later than December 31, 2014 at a company-contracted third party medical facility.
    • Biometric screening includes: finger stick blood tests for cholesterol and glucose; weight, height, and waist measurement; and a blood pressure reading.
  • That every current benefits-enrolled employee be required to complete an online health profile.
    • Such profile will collect additional information to provide a more complete picture of employee health (e.g. whether employee smokes, conducts appropriate physical self-examinations).
    • Certify that the employee has had an annual physical examination.
  • That the new initiative be given a friendly name such as “Get Well” to promote employee acceptance of the program.
  • That employees who do not comply with the terms of “Get Well”  be given the options of
    • Pay a $1,000 annual health surcharge; or
    • Decline employer-sponsored health coverage for the following calendar year;
    • Resignation; or
  1. Discussion

The objective of the “Get Well” program is to make employees more aware of their own health status and to help them identify issues that they could mitigate on their own to become more fit.

The “Get Well” initiative completely aligns with other current public health and fitness initiatives such as Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on large soft drinks and the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” campaign.

There have been numerous research studies on obesity published in scholarly journals such as the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine.

We firmly believe that many Penn-Mart employees want to get fit and that the “Get Well” initiative will provide the necessary incentives for them to take charge of their own wellness.  Giving a blood sample and filling out a survey form is not intrusive or burdensome – these are two things that people do routinely. Those who might oppose “Get Well” are either unfit, or they have something to hide in their medical history.  To quote the famous Charles Darwin, “survival of the fittest” is a natural part of evolution.

“Get Well” will make all Penn-Mart employees feel better about themselves.

These recommendations have been thoroughly researched and represent state-of-the-art in our field.  We are confident in your concurrence.

[1] 2006 was the year of Penn-Mart’s participation in the local Corporate Challenge road race in which some managers chose to consider participation in the race as a minor part of the annual employee performance review process; this initiative was scrapped due to a frivolous legal challenge by those who are not

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