Critical Thinking Assessment

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INTRODUCTION Educational accountability has swiftly become a buzzword for educators and administrators at all educational levels across the United States. Reports such as the Spellings’ Commission on the Future of Higher Education (U.S. Department of Education, 2006) increase the call for formal assessment and evaluation of student learning, especially as deficit federal and state taxes fund student learning. As pressure to provide evidence of student learning mounts, universities and colleges are turning to varying types of student tests and surveys to satisfy the call for accountability. While there is agreement on the use of student test performance as a marker for accountability (source), there is much debate on the use of student surveys …show more content…
However, it can be difficult for faculty and institutions to define exactly what is critical thinking. Traditionally, critical thinking was defined and related to the philosophical practices of formal logic and reasoning (Dauer, 1989). However, this definition has evolved to include other concepts such as problem solving and learning new information (Lipman, 1988), as well as, reflection (Facione, 2000). Research associated with the Critical-thinking Assessment Test has helped faculty across the country identify a set of skills that they feel best define critical thinking (Stein, Haynes, Redding, Ennis, & Cecil, 2006). These skills are listed in the table below.
Table 1: Skill Areas Associated with Critical thinking
Separate factual information from inferences that might be used to interpret those facts.
Identify inappropriate conclusions.
Understand the limitations of correlational
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Nationally distributed surveys like the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) or IDEA Student Ratings of Instruction allow schools to make comparisons of their students’ perceptions with those of peer institutions (Kuh & Vesper, 2011). Institutions can also create surveys to serve a specific purpose, such as to gain feedback on specific institutional programs or experiences. While some of these surveys center on perceptions of facilities or social climate, others focus on student perceptions of learning or