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Critical Thinking

CALL: Collaborative Assessment for Liberal Learning
April 7-8, 2006 Conference
Northfield, MN

Inter-Institutional Team Report

Report from the Inter-Institutional Team on Critical Thinking

Regarding an inter-institutional operational definition of the learning outcome you are examining: (i.e. A student who is proficient in [this outcome] does the following things fairly well and with reasonable consistency in educational activities and assignments.):

What have you agreed on?
In fact, we didn't disagree much at all. We didn't try to give a concise definition of CT, but we largely agreed on the following list of qualities of critical thinking:

  • ability and inclination to evaluate evidence
  • willingness/inclination to challenge received opinion
  • ability and inclination to assess one's own position, and to recognize what's known and unknown
  • ability to combine understanding, appreciation, and evaluation of a text or argument
  • ability to identify theme, thesis, policy, argument, etc. in a discipline-appropriate way
  • some "intellectual virtues" that link to CT: curiosity, courage, commitment, accountability
  • ability to recognize and critique assumptions, including one's own ability to "transfer training" from one area of study to another
  • ability to assess data/information in a rigorous or disciplined way
  • an inclination to introspection, self-examination

What haven’t you agreed on? What’s still up in the air?
  • Some assessment tools appear to address some combination of research skill and CT -- how can these be disentangled? or are they the same thing?
  • CT tools and definitions may over-emphasize the "true" at possible expense of the "good" and the "beautiful"; which "virtues" does an emphasis on CT ignore or undervalue?

Is there anything you’ve agreed you are not going to agree on?

What next? What do you need to continue your work?

  • Some mechanism/time/place to assess, compare, and understand CLA results after senior results are available
  • Carleton may look at its sophomore portfolio activity with an eye to possibility of assessing CT along with other qualities; other schools are interested
  • ARP (and analogous offices elsewhere) might compile CT-related questions and results for common assessment instruments: NSSE, HEDS, etc.

Related Documents

  • CALL - Assessing Assessment (1303 KB PDF Document)
    29 April 2009
    The Critical Thinking Inter-Institutional Team Final Report on Assessing Assessment