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Critical Thinking

Definition and Learning Outcomes
Critical thinking competency at NSU is denoted by a students' ability to R.E.A.S.O.N:

on information presented in diverse media and frames of reference to:
- Identify main ideas and/or themes
- Make comparative judgments from data.

Evaluate assumptions to:
- Determine the validity/credibility and implications of a supposition
- Identify limitations and contradictions in an event.

Argue to:
- Identify/develop and evaluate arguments and issues.
- Express judgments of value, merit, or worth
- Articulate a clear and insightful problem statement.

Solve problems in efficient and effective ways by:
- Developing propositions and predicting causal relationships
- Identifying multiple approaches for solving the problem.

Obtain desired goals/outcomes by:
- Implementing and adapting a plan to work towards a goal or conclusion
- Identifying new information that might support or hinder implementation of the plan.

Network to
- Communicate ideas, alternative solutions, implementation plans, and/or desired outcomes in diverse frames of reference and in a variety of media
- Initiate and develop interactions with culturally different others.

Assessment Methodology
NSU employs both direct (CAT and Prof Pro Tests) and indirect assessment (NSSE survey) measures to gauge students' critical thinking competencies. The REASON outcomes have been matched to the Prof Pro and CAT dimensions.
1) The Prof Pro assesses critical thinking, reading, writing, and mathematics. The Prof Pro provides norm-referenced and criterion-referenced scores. For more information on the characteristics of the Prof Pro visit, http://www.ets.org/proficiencyprofile/about. The Prof Pro will be administered to at least 300 students enrolled in selected sections of 100 and 200-level required general education courses (e.g., SOC 101: Introduction to Social Sciences, HUM 210: Humanities I, and HUM 211: Humanities II).
2) The CAT is a 15-item short-answer/essay test developed by the Center for Assessment & Improvement of Learning at Tennessee Technological University. The CAT instrument is unique in that it is designed to assess a broad range of skills associated with critical thinking. For more information on the characteristics of the CAT, visit https://www.tntech.edu/cat. The CAT test will be administered to at least 100 NSU students currently enrolled in selected 300-level capstone general education courses that are identified as cultural electives. All NSU students are required to take at least one cultural elective course.
3) The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is administered annually, with at least 300 seniors completing the survey. Selected items on the NSSE will be used as indirect assessment measures. The data reported by seniors on the following items (2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 6d, 6e, 11e, and 11m – as listed on the 2010 NSSE) will be used to triangulate Prof Pro and CAT data.

1) On the ETS Proficiency Profile (Prof Pro) Test, critical thinking sub scores range from 100 to 130. 70% of NSU students will score at the Prof Pro national mean in critical thinking. Currently, the national mean sub score for critical thinking is 111.
2) On the Critical thinking Assessment Test (CAT) scores range from 0 to 38. 70% of NSU students will score at the national mean. Currently, the national mean for students is 13.66.
3) Seniors will report levels of engagement/ perceived growth at the national average on items 2b, 2c, 2d, 2e, 6d, 6e, 11e, and 11m on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

Resource Box

NSU's REASON Test Preparation Guide
Video Description of CAT Test

Articles and Publications
Hatcher, D.L. (2011). Which test? Whose scores? Comparing standardized critical thinking tests. New Directions for Institutional Research, 149, 29-39. doi:10.1002/ir.378
Stein, B., & Haynes, A. (2011). Engaging faculty in the assessment and improvement of students' critical thinking using the critical thinking assessment test. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 43(2), 44-49. doi: 10.1080/000/1383.2011.550254
Duron, R., Limbach, B., & Waugh, W. (2005). Critical thinking framework for any discipline. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 17(2). 160-166.
Browne, M.N., & Keeley, S.M. (2007). Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2003). Critical thinking: Teaching students how to study and learn (Part III). Journal of Developmental Education, 26(3), 36.
Critical thinking: Improving analysis, argument, and structure in your assignments. (2010). Learning Development, University of Plymouth.

Websites of Interest
Critical Thinking.org - The Foundation for Critical Thinking offers assessment and research resources that encourage critical thinking at all educational levels.


AAC&U Critical Thinking Value Rubric
St. Philip's College QEP Critical Thinking Assessment Rubric
Facione and Facione Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric
General Education Critical Thinking Rubric - Northeastern Illinois University