Developing critical thinking skills among Transportation Security officers (TSOs) through sharing tacit knowledge

Abstract

This paper summarizes results from a research project collaboration between a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) organization responsible for aviation security at a mid-sized airport in the western United States and a local university. The purpose of this project was to explore the potential and utility of a learning tool designed to enhance critical thinking skills among Transportation Security Officers (TSO). Employees of the TSA are provided comprehensive and continuous training from point of hire throughout the duration of a TSO’s employment. However performance problems continue to be identified and while TSOs are annually rated on their ability to think critically no training is provided for this specific skill. During Phase 1 of this two-phased study, a learning tool was developed in the form of a situational judgment test based tacit knowledge inventory comprised of work scenarios that were oriented on developing critical thinking skills common to TSOs. In Phase 2, TSOs organized into an experimental group, participated in structured facilitated discussions that supplemented the traditional training protocol and were based on the critical thinking tacit knowledge inventory; a control group took part in only the traditional training. A significant difference was found between the experimental and control group annual performance ratings for the critical thinking scale.

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Correspondence to Teresa Z. Taylor.

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Taylor, T.Z., Prescott, R., Harrup, K. et al. Developing critical thinking skills among Transportation Security officers (TSOs) through sharing tacit knowledge. J Transp Secur 14, 107–118 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12198-021-00231-9

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Keywords

  • Tacit knowledge
  • Situational judgment test
  • Critical thinking
  • Facilitated discussions