Learning Strategy 26: Power Thinking 

Robert Harris
Version Date: December 3, 2012


Power Thinking is a learning strategy that uses a structured but flexible worksheet to stimulate the thinking and remembering process. The Power Thinking worksheet offers a number of stimulating work areas and prompts to help you get beyond questions such as

The Power Thinking worksheet is available as a pdf (requires Adobe Reader or other pdf reading software).
For discussion purposes, the worksheet has been divided into four segments.

Top Segment

Top of Power Thinking Worksheet

The very top of the worksheet has space for the name of the creator, the date, project name, due date, and a check box for marking when the project has been completed, if that is relevant. There is also space after the word Complete to add a date of completion.

Identify, Assess, Define
This area can be used to describe a problem, define terms, take notes (see Learning Strategy 9: Note Taking), provide details, or generally open the issue. The box to the right of this area containts a number of thought-stimulating words to connect to the idea under thought and determine if the connection is relevant. For example, What are the criteria here? What are the tradeoffs we should think about? What would be a nonexample or a disconfirming fact?

Locks, Checklist, Keys
This area can be used to list barriers, difficulties, or other locks that may be inhibiting progress. Alternatively (or at the same time) it can list keys to those locks. And, it can be used for a checklist of steps or tasks that emerge either up front or as the thinking process continues.

Middle Segment

Middle of Power Thinking Worksheet

The middle segment features two side-by-side list boxes that can be used to
Then there is the all-important sandbox.Tha sandbox can be used for jotting random ideas related to thinking, such as a graph, chart, diagram, mnemonic, contact information, and so forth. Second, it can be used for doodling and scribbling. Many people like to make little drawings or geometric shapes while they think. A third and most important use of the sandbox is to free up your working memory so that you can concentrate on the problem at hand. For example, imagine that you are trying to focus on cost cutting ideas in the shipping department or why Hamlet doesn't act sooner. But your concentration is constantly broken by the need to remind yourself to pick up bread and milk later on. In such a case, your working memory is so busy that you can't effectively process what you're supposed to be attending to. When you write down, "Pick up pick up bread and milk," you can release it from your mind and focus on the task at hand. This little sandbox really works. Use it to clear your mind for the real thinking.

Bottom Segment

Bottom of Power Thinking Worksheet

The leftmost box in the bottom segment of the worksheet can be used for
It is also possible to draw lines connecting the tick marks and the center dot to divide the area into four pieces, ready to do quadrant analysis such as the SWOT technique (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, or CuBeRooT analysis (Costs, Benefits, Results, Tradeoffs).

Decide, Choice 1, Choice 2, To Do
As the labels imply, these two boxes can be used to list alternatives in making a decision (Chocolate or vanilla?), or one can be used for a To Do list and the other for, say questions, alternatives, criteria, and so forth. The two boxes, like those in the middle segment, are set up to present contrasts--of choices, ideas, arguments, facts, and so forth.

Footer Segment
The footer area allows space for summary and extractive comments--the gist of the thinking exercise that filled out the page. (See Learning Strategy 2: Paraphrasing and Learning Strategy 3: Summarizing, for more information.) Revisiting the page of thinking notes at a later time reinforces the memory of the activity and also offers the opportunity for fresh thinking.

Footer of Power Thinking Worksheet

High Performance Learning

Use the Power Thinking sheet in connection with any kind of evaluation, assessment, or group (team) work to help you in your understanding and decision making.

VirtualSalt Home
Learning Strategy 1: Mnemonics
Learning Strategy 2: Paraphrasing
Learning Strategy 3: Summarizing
Learning Strategy 4: Self Monitoring
Learning Strategy 5: Self Explanation
Learning Strategy 6: Mental Rehearsal
Learning Strategy 7: Self Assessment
Learning Strategy 8: The SQ3R Reading Method
Learning Strategy 9: Note Taking
Learning Strategy 10: The Leitner Flash Card System
Learning Strategy 11: Maintaining Interest
Learning Strategy 12: Conversation
Learning Strategy 13: Group Interaction
Learning Strategy 14: Idea Mapping
Learning Strategy 15: Drawing Pictures
Learning Strategy 16: Study Cycles
Learning Strategy 17: Sleep and Rest
Learning Strategy 18: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 19: Learning Strategy Checklist
Learning Strategy 20: Asking Questions
Learning Strategy 21: Idea Linking
Learning Strategy 22: How to Use a Book
Learning Strategy 23: Active Listening
Learning Strategy 24: Close Reading
Learning Strategy 25: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 26: Power Thinking
Learning Strategy 27: Planning for Learning
Learning Strategy 28: Outlining
Copyright 2011 by Robert Harris | How to cite this page
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About the author:
Robert Harris is a writer and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the college and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com