Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a buzz word in most universities and not a skill that is assessed or developed.

Many faculty believe that their courses engage students in critical thinking but they do not assess this nor do they design academic exercises that help students develop their critical thinking skills. Those of us at the Higher Learning Company recommend the use of the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT), developed by Barry Stein and his colleagues at Tennessee Tech University, to assess the critical thinking skills of students early in their training.

The CAT evaluates the following critical thinking skills:

Evaluating Information
• Separate factual information from inferences.
• Interpret numerical relationships in graphs.
• Understand the limitations of correlation data.
• Identify inappropriate conclusions.

Creative Thinking
• Identify & evaluate evidence for a theory.
• Identify new information that might support or contradict
a hypothesis.
• Explain how new information can change a problem.

Learning & Problem Solving
• Separate relevant from irrelevant information.
• Integrate information to solve problems.
• Learn & apply new information.
• Use mathematical skills to solve real-world problems.

• Communicate ideas effectively.

The analysis of the CAT can be used to design specific active learning exercises that will help sharpen those critical thinking skills found to be deficient based on the CAT results.