Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Steven Schwartz

Third Advisor

Scott A. Kerr


This paper addresses and integrates two issues. Its first premise is that training and development programs in most organizations are often poorly planned or randomly implemented, a condition which undermines much of the potential benefit these programs may offer. Secondly, the paper argues that the development and application of critical and creative thinking skills, traditionally applied only in educational settings, can also serve businesses in very important ways. Towards the integration of these two issues, a six-stage model is presented that can serve to coordinate the process of personnel development in organizations. It is highlighted by the identification and application of a range of cognitive skills. While the model is primarily progressive, suggesting that certain learning should precede other learning, there is also a more holistic or systemic aspect to it, realizing that work at one level must influence and be influenced by work on other levels. These points are expanded upon throughout the paper. After an introductory chapter discusses the background and general goals of the paper, each of the next six chapters discusses in detail one of the stages from the model. Stage 1 is centered on self-development and a greater appreciation of an individual's thinking, learning and behavioral preferences. Stage 2 introduces interpersonal communication issues associated primarily with dyadic contexts. Then Stage 3 focuses on communication issues in special circumstances, namely those related to matters of diversity as it is understood to include perspectives of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual preference, and physical disability. Stage 4 deals with ideas associated with group process and team development. Trainings at this Stage 4 level become pivotal and critical as a foundation for the more complex operations common to most organizations. In Stage 5, the contextual focus expands to include organizational departments or divisions. And finally, Stage 6 addresses intervention programs that are concerned with entire organizations. A summary is presented in Chapter 8 and suggestions are made for further study and exploration.