1. WHAT IS A NON-VERBAL ASSESSMENT?
To determine HOW a person thinks, rather than WHAT is being thought about, it is necessary to bypass the content of a thought. That is why Dr. Dorothy Davis designed a non-verbal assessment to determine thinking style. She knew that, if it were to be accurate, the assessment would need to avoid language; symbols; writing; reading; and any other system that required a person to use linguistic tools or other previously learned sequences. She had to create a way of stripping off 'learned' behaviors to access innate 'habits of mind.'
Nearly everyone (with the exception of some artists and computer analysts) is puzzled by the concept of a 'non-verbal' assessment. Such puzzlement may derive from the assumption that thinking and acting are two different things--one which happens in your head, and the other which happens in the world. However, Relational Thinking Styles proposes that thinking and action are the same thing. Thinking is internal activity and action is externalized thought.
Whenever we set about to do a task, we instinctively use a particular pattern of actions to organize it. How well a given task turns out depends upon how well our method of patterning actions matched the needs of the situation. There aren't good and bad thinking patterns, but there are good and bad situations for using each pattern. Every individual uses a specific pattern for thinking that is constructed out of a particular arrangement of the action components: varying and repeating. We refer to this habitual pattern as a non-verbal thinking pattern or, more simply, a thinking pattern.
A thinking pattern* is, therefore, a dynamic process--a method rather than an attribute. It is comprised of a pattern of action components habitually used in a particular way for particular purposes. These purposes are not merely what people normally think of as purpose, like playing golf or building a birdhouse. These 'purposes' overarch and direct each of the stages we engage to achieve other purposes. Those stages are 1) understanding and developing ideas; 2) setting goals; and 3) making choices and solving problems along the way.