Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” as Want to Read:
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,183 ratings  ·  142 reviews
The coauthors are mathematics professors. Burger teaches at Wiliams College; Starbird at The University of Texas at Austin. Here, they “reveal the hidden powers of deep understanding (earth), failure (fire), questions (air), the flow of ideas (water), and the quintessential element of change that brings all four elements together. By mastering and applying these practical ...more
Hardcover, 168 pages
Published August 26th 2012 by Princeton University Press
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ken
I found it insightful and important.

1. Understand basic ideas deeply

2. Learn from mistakes

3. Raise questions

4. Follow flow of ideas

5. Embrace change
Safat
Nov 08, 2014 Safat marked it as to-read
হাতে কোন গুরুত্বপূর্ণ কাজ না থাকলে একটা এই মুহূর্তে একটা মজার সাইকোলজিকাল এক্সপেরিমেন্ট করে ফেলুন। বেশি না,বেশি হলে দুই মিনিট লাগবে।

মনে করুন,আপনার মাথায় আসতে থাকা প্রতিটি চিন্তা হল এক একটা ট্রেনের মত। এর যে কোন ট্রেনে উঠলেই সেটা কোন দিকে না তাকিয়ে পোওউউউউ ঝিক ঝিক করতে করতে আপনাকে নিয়ে যাবে এক স্টেশন থেকে আরেক স্টেশনে।

আপনি যে কাজটা করবেন,ঘড়িতে এক মিনিটের অ্যালার্ম দিয়ে চোখ বন্ধ করবেন।(অথবা অ্যালার্ম না দিয়েও করতে পারেন।) একটার পর একটা ট্রেন(আপনার চিন্তারা) আপনার (বন্ধ) চোখের সামনে দিয়ে কালবৈশাখীর
...more
Mariah Burton Nelson
This brief, highly readable book challenges readers on several fronts, and includes several good quotes:

Picasso: I begin with an idea then it becomes something else."
"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
"In a chronically leaking boat, energy expended to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." – Warren Buffett

The five elements:

1) Earth: Strive for Rock-Solid Understanding
2) Fire: Fail and learn from miss
...more
Toma Stone
To say that this book is life-changing would be premature, but it wouldn't be hyperbole. I have not read a book that challenged me so deeply on so many levels in years. I have never rightly considered how I think before. Why do I think the way I do? It is a good and effective way of thinking? Is my thinking "style" one that will aid me or hinder me as I pursue a more fulfilling life?

I have spent so much time thinking, searching, beating myself for answers to big questions Now, after reading this
...more
Janelle
This book doesn't fall within my normal reading territory, but it's good to read outside the box sometimes. The book entered my radar because one of its authors (Burger) is my alma mater's new president.

As others have stated, this is a quick read - but an engaging and pleasant one. Essentially, it's a book about how to think and learn better. It's a great choice for a new college student (any student, really), for teachers, and for anyone in a life transition. Okay, I guess it's good for anyone
...more
Jared


1. Grounding Your Thinking
1. Understand simple things deeply
2. Clear the clutter - seek the essential
3. See what’s there
4. See what’s missing
5. Final Thoughts: Deeper thinking is better
3. Igniting Insights through Mistakes
1. Welcome accidental missteps-let errors be your guide
2. Finding the right question to the wrong answer
3. Failing by intent
4. Final Thoughts: A modified mind-set
5. Creating Questions out of Thin Air
1. How answers can lead to questions
2. Creating questions enliven
...more
Naomi
Although I found this book interesting, I did feel like it has been written multiple times before. I was taught these concepts in graduate school for my classes on leadership, so it truly was nothing new to me. However, it might be for the general public.

In reality, these books are a dime a dozen. I do think that they author, with his math background, brought in an interesting approach, but it is still the same concepts.
Mason
I would like to say "I already knew that" after reading this book, but that would not be true. Here is a distillation of some helpful tips on getting your mind right, acting on what you know, and never -ever- stop learning.
Mark
I don't know if the points in this little book will help me to think any better, but it gave me several ideas to teach better.
Kenny
Potentially life changing, because it takes its own advice to get at the fundamental ability we all have to think as human beings. While much of it rings true on that core level, so much so, I feel so inspired to want to change, and feel capable of doing so - the authors say it right there, and there are many inspirational stories and quotes, which you will need to get the book to enjoy - as a budding writer and psychologist, I want to get more of the ways that these lessons or pieces of advice ...more
Serena Alibhai
This book surprised me. I won this book from Good Reads and wasn't sure what it'd be like. I did think it sounded interesting though, which is why I entered the contest. I thought this book may be like others that I've read. But this was different and helpful. This book is simple, well written, and direct.

The authors used quotes to illustrate ways to think and live and succeed effectively. The way they wrote it is like one of my favourite other books by Jack Canfield where he also talks about h
...more
Mario Tomic
Finished reading this book recently, nothing really ground breaking but it's well put together in one single place so there is value into reading and reminding yourself of these concepts.

The 5 elements from the book are:
1. Understand Deeply, go for depth and make a rock solid base in anything you wanna achieve.
2. Make Mistakes, correct solutions rarely come from the first attempt so be persistent and assume your gonna make mistakes.
3. Raise Questions, be ready to challenge concepts and solutions
...more
Tales Untangled
There are many self-help books that have been written to help us achieve success, however you may define success. The reason I found this book to be refreshing is because it is simple, uses common sense and sites specific patterns to follow.

The 5 habits are attached to elements to make them easy to remember through association with a symbol.

1 – Earth - Grounding your Thinking, Understand Deeply
2- Fire – Igniting Insights through Mistakes, Fail to Succeed
3 – Air – Creating Questions out of Thin A
...more
Donald Plugge

This would be a good book for students. A nice guide by professional teachers on how best to learn. The authors break the ideas down into the symbolism of Earth, Fire, Air and Water. Earth refers to "Rock Solid Understanding" where the student figures out the big picture of what she is learning before driving into the details. Fire is Failure, failure is a good thing and teaches the student that progress is being made. Air represents Asking Questions (that analogy was a stretch, but it needed a
...more
Dave B.
“The 5 elements of effective thinking” was a short 160+ pages. I was able to read the material in a day. The power of the text was in the fact that it was to the point and practical in nature. I have read several books related to critical thinking and Neuropsychology and this book provides a great summary of active thinking skills without an extra 500 pages of cognitive research history or case studies. I think linking key factors to critical thinking to classical concepts of natural elements wi ...more
Andd Becker
The authors invite readers to submit accounts of real-life applications of the five elements of effective thinking.
The authors offer numerous tips, with specificity, on how to accomplish tasks. Students from middle school through graduate school will become more effective by following the guidelines set forth.
Especially useful are the questions designed to help readers focus on challenges and solutions.
I received this book free through the goodreads FIRST READS program.
Parveen Goel
I am giving this book 5 stars for following reasons:

1. Style of writing is excellent, authors have used a story telling style that is very easy to follow and get the message through. Quotations and stories used in book are really inspiring. My favourite one is: "It's not what you don't know that gets you in trouble. It's what you do know that ain't so."

2. Ideas are not new however book serves as a good reminder to five very simple and basic steps that many of us can use. I used idea of asking qu
...more
Kathy
This is the text that goes along with the online course that I am taking now. This text alone is not nearly as powerful as I believe taking the course along with reading it will be. The book feels like "just advice". Working through the puzzles and experiences in the course bring this advice better to light. This book needs something for the reader to connect to. It seems to be written too broadly, towards too wide of an audience. Maybe it is just me...
Jason
There are a few good ideas. I think as a teacher the notion that students should be doing the teaching as much as possible is definitely a good one. I also like the idea of assigning a designated "question asker" works well. The elements all line up to the methods of improved thinking: earth is for understanding, fire for making mistakes, air for asking questions, and water for mechanisms of flow and connection. There is also a 5th element of change, which "ironically" matched up with the Greek ...more
Johnny
Any student, worker or life long learner could benefit from reading this book. It contains practical advice on methods to incrementally improve on your situation by initiating action and iterating the solution by identifying where it is incorrect then applying a fix.

The primary focus is to consistently probe your understanding of a topic through critical evaluation to highlight inaccuracies and short comings. Understanding the basics is highly stressed as a strong foundation is key to building
...more
Tony
I've read dozens of similar books, and whilst this one doesn't add much new, it neatly encapsulates a lot of basic thinking about thinking, pushing forward the core concepts that:

* It's always possible to understand something more deeply
* It's vital to make lots of mistakes along the way
* You need to get much better at asking lots and lots of questions
* Everything builds on previous ideas
* The key to getting better is continuous constructive change

It's short, easy to read, simple without being s
...more
Nathan Glenn
This book is very simply written, and is rather short. There's so much out there in terms of improving your brain or thinking skills, but this book says it all in around 120 pages. You could read it in one sitting.
The authors aim to at once burst the bubble for people who believe that smart people are born that way, and at the same time show the reader that very simple principles are involved in being rational, intelligent, creative, good at solving problems and good at learning new things.
I thi
...more
Philip
What are the elements of effective thinking? First, one must think deeply on given topics, being willing to understand simple aspects well rather than expansive topics only simply. This is the idea of earth -- reaching down. Second, we ought to be willing to undergo failure and revisions to make our ideas better. This is the test of fire. Third, we need to reach for the air by asking questions. The better questions we ask, the better we’ll understand and think and write. Fourth, understanding wh ...more
Silas
I enjoyed the way this rather short book was laid out. I appreciated the format of the four classical elements along with quintessence as a means of organizing ideas about styles of learning. Unfortunately, this happens to pretty much already be how I think, so it didn't help me terribly much, but I was always a good student, and learned things easily, and perhaps having picked up this book out of curiosity demonstrates how I am willing to go back to basics. If you have some trouble learning new ...more
David
I wish I had read this book when I was in school.
Ray Campbell
This wasn't the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - my yardstick for such self improvement books. Perhaps I'm somewhat jaded. Having been in the education business for more than twenty years, I've looked at dozens of these kinds of books. Many have offered good ideas in digestible packages from which I have taken buzz words and concepts I've used. The problem with this book for me was that as I read, I found myself thinking "oh, that..." which I already know and use.

I did like the way the auth
...more
Tim
Loving this so far
Alexis
In a nutshell: What you know, what you see, and what you can improve.

Thoughts: In the second chapter of this book, the author recommended that this book be read 3 times. The first time, to get an overall picture; the second time, to take in the details; and a third time to really sink in the information. I guffawed at the thought. "Once should be enough."

But I think he was right. I think I could use a second, at the very least, run through this book. This book helps you think about different way
...more
David Glad
As authors note, it was relatively quick. Unlike their suggestion to go through it three times, I might not.

Are some worthwhile notes:
To succeed you must fail, to fail you must succeed
Relying on authority for 2000 years versus relying on evidence (how gravity affects falling objects; surely Archimedes is infallible!)
Seeing things from another perspective. (Term that I perhaps best remember an information systems professor by.. Is worth noting lately that taking a bunch of pics while rearranging
...more
Chung Chin
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking is about 5 ways you can improve your thought process. The 5 elements introduced in the book are:
1. Understand Deeply.
2. Make Mistakes.
3. Raise Questions.
4. Follow the Flow of Ideas.
5. Change.
The rest of the book dives deeper into each element with elaboration and examples.

The authors wrote in a clear and consistent manner, tying the whole book together nicely. As you read, you will find anecdotes on how the elements are applied in daily life; not only to solv
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Smart Thinking: Three Essential Keys to Solve Problems, Innovate, and Get Things Done
  • The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work
  • Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content
  • The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills
  • Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone
  • Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs
  • Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life
  • Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long
  • Making Habits, Breaking Habits: Why We Do Things, Why We Don't, and How to Make Any Change Stick
  • Accelerated Learning Techniques
  • The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism
  • It's Not All about Me: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone
  • Seeking Wisdom: From Darwin To Munger
  • Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good
  • The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus into Your Life
  • Succeeding When You're Supposed to Fail: The 6 Enduring Principles of High Achievement
  • Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day
  • How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top Students
Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking The Joy Of Thinking: The Beauty And Power Of Classical Mathematical Ideas (The Great Courses) Algebra 1 Texas Holt Geometry

Share This Book

“Deep work on simple, basic ideas helps to build true virtuosity—not just in music but in everything.” 0 likes
“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you do know that ain’t so. —Will Rogers or Mark Twain or someone else” 0 likes
More quotes…