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Assessment of Thinking in

Educational Settings
Gregory Schraw
Introduction
The study of thinking and thinking skills is one of the most important topics in education.
Experts agree that there are many different types of thinking, including core categories such as
reasoning, argumentation, problem solving and critical thinking, and metacognition. Each of
these four categories includes specific, essential component skills, such as induction,
constructing argument rebuttals, weighing information, and online monitoring. Collectively,
there is a wide variety of core components of thinking, with some authors describing ten or more
distinct skills. Each of these skills can be assessed for different purposes, using a variety of
assessment formats, such as multiple-choice items or essays. This article includes three main
sections that focus on different types of thinking skills, five general categories of assessments,
and major printed resources, such as textbooks and edited volumes. One section describes four
broad types of thinking skills, including reasoning, argumentation, problem solving and critical
thinking, and metacognition (see Types of Thinking Skills, Reasoning, Argumentation, Problem
Solving and Critical Thinking, and Metacognition). The next section examines five general
categories of thinking-skills assessments that focus on general aptitude and achievement, general
thinking skills, content knowledge, procedural leaning, and attitudes and dispositions (see
General Aptitude and Achievement, General Thinking Skills, Content Knowledge, Procedural
Learning, and Attitudes and Dispositions).

Edited Volumes
A large number of edited volumes have been devoted to critical thinking, problem solving, and
self-regulation. The works in this section are intended to sample the entire range, from scholarly
entries to shorter chapters geared toward instruction and classroom-based assessment. Boekaerts,
et al. 2000 discusses self-regulation and its relationship to problem solving and critical thinking.
Davidson and Sternberg 2003 includes scholarly chapters that focus on problem solving. Dunn,
et al. 2008 provides an outstanding set of edited articles appropriate for teaching and assessing

thinking skills in psychology. Holyoak and Morrison 2005 includes scholarly chapters that focus
on reviews of recent literature rather than classroom applications. Schraw and Robinson 2011
includes theory- and applications-oriented chapters that focus specifically on critical thinking
skills. Sternberg, et al. 2007 considers a variety of ways to infuse critical thinking into the
psychology class.

Boekaerts, Monique, Paul R. Pintrich, and Moshe Zeidner, eds. 2000. Handbook of selfregulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
This volume includes twenty-three chapters under two general topics: general theories of
self-regulation and domain-specific aspects of self-regulation. Although it is devoted to
the study of self-regulation, most chapters discuss in detail the relationship between selfregulation and critical thinking skills, including instructional strategies to improve
everyday thinking skills and problem solving.

Davidson, Janet E., and Robert J. Sternberg, eds. 2003. The psychology of problem
solving. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
This volume includes a variety of chapters on planning, implementing, and assessing
problem solving and critical thinking.

Dunn, Dana S., Jane S. Halonen, and Randolph A. Smith, eds. 2008. Teaching critical
thinking in psychology: A handbook of best practices. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.
This volume focuses on teaching critical-thinking skills in the context of college
psychology classes. Chapters are short and extremely readable in most cases with an
emphasis on teaching and assessing a concise set of thinking skills.

Holyoak, Keith J., and Robert G. Morrison, eds. 2005. The Cambridge handbook of
thinking and reasoning. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
This volume includes longer, scholarly chapters that consider of a variety of reasoning
skills, including problem solving, deduction, induction, scientific thinking, and
argumentative reasoning. Several chapters focus on teaching and assessing problem
solving and critical thinking.

Schraw, Gregory, and Daniel H. Robinson, eds. 2011. Assessment of higher order
thinking skills. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.
This volume includes thirteen chapters by cognitive psychologists and measurement
experts on a variety of topics related to teaching and assessing critical-thinking skills.
Several chapters compare the strengths and weaknesses of different assessment strategies
for critical thinking.

Sternberg, Robert J., Henry L. Roediger III, and Diane F. Halpern, eds. 2007. Critical
thinking in psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
This volume includes seventeen chapters that discuss ways to infuse critical-thinking
skills into the psychology classroom. Most of the chapters focus on critical thinking when
conducting or interpreting psychological research.

Textbooks on the Study of Thinking Skills


The textbooks described here focus on components of critical thinking and how to improve these
skills in the classroom or workplace. Baron 2008 provides a scholarly overview of all aspects of
thinking. Fisher 2001 presents a streamlined summary of critical thinking among otherwise
unskilled thinkers. Halpern 2003 discusses critical thinking from the perspective of cognitive
psychology and information processing. Paul and Elder 2002 discusses critical thinking in the
context of the workplace and improving ones professional judgment and reasoning.

Baron, Jonathan. 2008. Thinking and deciding. 4th ed. New York: Cambridge Univ.
Press.
This volume provides an exceptionally detailed and clear discussion of a wide variety of
thinking skills, ranging from informal reasoning to moral thinking.

Fisher, Alec. 2001. Critical thinking: An introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ.
Press.
The text provides a brief but well-integrated overview of critical-thinking skills. It
focuses on core skills, such as making inferences, evaluating evidence, and judging the
quality of arguments.

Halpern, Diane F. 2003. Thought and knowledge: An introduction to critical thinking. 4th
ed. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
A comprehensive discussion of thinking with an emphasis on using and improving
thinking skills in everyday settings.

Paul, R. W., and L. Elder. 2002. Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your
professional and personal life. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
This volume covers a wide variety of topics of interest to those who wish to improve
critical thinking in the workplace. The text includes eleven detailed guidelines for
improving strategic critical thinking.

Textbooks on Teaching Thinking

The textbooks described here focus on teaching critical thinking in the classroom. Barell 1991
discusses strategies that are useful across the curriculum. Beyer 1997 provides an integrated
system for teaching thinking skills. Cottrell 2005 focuses on critical evaluation of arguments and
evidence, especially for older students. Swartz and Perkins 1990 provides a readable and
insightful discussion of how to teach and assess a variety of thinking skills in all classrooms.
Tishman, et al. 1995 considers a number of strategies for infusing thinking in the classroom.

Barell, J. 1991. Teaching for thoughtfulness: Classroom strategies to enhance intellectual


development. New York: Longman.
Provides a detailed discussion of thinking skills and how to incorporate them into
educational settings. The author focuses on strategies that are effective across the
curriculum for students of all ages.

Beyer, Barry K. 1997. Improving student thinking: A comprehensive approach. Boston:


Allyn and Bacon.
This volume focuses on an integrated set of thinking skills and how to teach them. The
emphasis is on helping younger students develop awareness of thinking skills and
improve them gradually over their academic careers.

Cottrell, S. 2005. Critical thinking skills: Developing effective analysis and argument.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
The author focuses on improving thinking through better argumentation. This book is
more suitable for older students, especially those in a course that requires critical
evaluation of arguments and evidence.

Swartz, R. J., and D. N. Perkins. 1990. Teaching thinking: Issues and approaches. Pacific
Grove, CA: Midwest.
Still one of the best and most thoughtful books on the topic of critical thinking. Two
special strong points are the discussions of infusion programs and assessment challenges.

Tishman, Shari, David Perkins, and Eileen Jay. 1995. The thinking classroom: Learning
and teaching in a culture of thinking. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
This volume discusses the importance of and obstacles to developing a thinking-based
classroom. The authors discuss a variety of ways to infuse thinking in the classroom to
improve everyday thinking beyond the classroom.

Reviews
A number of reviews have appeared that provide comprehensive discussions of the assessment of
critical thinking skills. Boekaerts and Corno 2005 provides a broad overview of assessment

strategies that are appropriate for a variety of thinking skills. Kuhn 1999 discusses the
development of thinking skills and ways to evaluate these skills across the developmental span.
Pithers and Soden 2000 provides an overview of methods and practices related to teaching
critical thinking. Ritchhart and Perkins 2005 discusses the importance of critical thinking and a
variety of challenges to school-based instruction. Yanchar, et al. 2008 provides comprehensive
discussion of critical thinking, focusing on its philosophical roots and epistemological
assumptions.

Boekaerts, Monique, and Lyn Corno. 2005. Self-regulation in the classroom: A


perspective on assessment and intervention. Applied Psychology 54:199231.
The authors provide a variety of intervention strategies designed to promote selfregulated learning in the classroom and a discussion of measurement strategies that are
best suited to assess different facets of learning. Although focused on self-regulation, the
instructional and assessment strategies discussed here apply to critical thinking as well.

Kuhn, Deanna. 1999. A developmental model of critical thinking. Educational


Researcher 28:1646.
This review describes the relationship among critical thinking, metacognition, and
argumentative reasoning skills. It considers the role of development in critical thinking
and instructional strategies to improve thinking.

Pithers, R. T., and Rebecca Soden. 2000. Critical thinking in education: A review.
Educational Research 42:237249.
This review focuses on ways to develop and infuse programs for critical-thinking skills
into classrooms. The authors discuss a variety of methods to enhance critical thinking and
what is required to improve students thinking skills.

Ritchhart, Ron, and David N. Perkins. 2005. Learning to think: The challenges of
teaching thinking. In The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning. Edited by
Keith J. Holyoak and Robert G. Morrison, 775802. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
This article discusses a variety of challenges in critical thinking, focusing on four
dilemmas that face teachers and researchers.

Yanchar, Stephen C., Brent D. Slife, and Russell Warne. 2008. Critical thinking as a
disciplinary practice. Review of General Psychology 12:265281.
This review provides a very detailed and comprehensive discussion of critical-thinking. It
considers different types of critical thinking skills, their development, and guidelines for
instruction and assessment.

Journals

Most psychology and educational psychology journals publish articles that address a variety of
factors related to critical thinking. Perhaps the single best source of research is Thinking Skills
and Creativity, which specializes in critical thinking of all types. An excellent source of research
on the assessment of thinking skills is Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. The four
educational psychology journals listed here often provide in-depth analysis or synthesis of new
research. Journal of Educational Psychology and Contemporary Educational Psychology publish
high-quality empirical studies of self-regulation and instructional interventions that promote the
development of self-regulated learning. Educational Psychology Review and Educational
Psychologist publish important review articles that compare competing models and theories of
thinking and cognition.

Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.


An excellent source for empirical studies of thinking skills and the instruction of thinking
skills for individuals of all ages. Articles focus on strategies for the assessment of many
different types of thinking and reasoning skills.

Contemporary Educational Psychology.


An important journal for empirical studies of thinking skills and their relationship to
attitudes and dispositions.

Educational Psychologist.
This journal focuses on conceptual and theoretical reviews that compare theories and
models. Most articles address some aspect of thinking skills, often focusing on models of
human motivation and social, collaborative processes used in thinking and learning.

Educational Psychology Review.


This journal focuses on conceptual and theoretical reviews that compare theories and
models of learning and thinking. Most articles address some aspect of higher-order
thinking, often focusing on models of the cognitive processes used in thinking,
monitoring, and self-regulation.

Journal of Educational Psychology.


An excellent source for sophisticated empirical studies of thinking skills and their
relationship to learning.

Thinking Skills and Creativity.


The primary journal for empirical studies of thinking skills and the instruction of thinking
skills for individuals of all ages. Articles also include a variety of suggestions and
examples of assessment for critical-thinking skills assessment.

Types of Thinking Skills


Four important categories of thinking skills have been discussed in the literature: Reasoning,
Argumentation, Problem Solving and Critical Thinking, and Metacognition. Reasoning skills
include deductive and inductive processes. Deductive reasoning uses facts, claims, or evidence to
support a conclusion, whereas inductive reasoning is a process in which a verifiable conclusion
is generalized to a new case. Argumentation focuses on generating and evaluating evidence and
arguments. Problem solving typically focuses on solving a specific problem, whereas critical
thinking can be defined as reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or what course
of action to take. Metacognition refers to thinking about and regulating ones thinking.
Reasoning
Reasoning skills include deductive and inductive processes. Deductive reasoning uses facts,
claims, or evidence to support a conclusion, whereas inductive reasoning is a process in which a
verifiable conclusion is generalized to a new case. One critical difference between the two is that
deductive reasoning cannot go beyond given information, whereas inductive reasoning does so
by generalizing about unknown instances. Holyoak and Morrison 2005 provides an overview of
the authors edited volume on thinking skills and reasoning. Klauer and Phye 2008 provides a
detailed review of inductive reasoning strategies and experimental interventions designed to
improve reasoning. Paul and Elder 2009 discusses the importance of ethical reasoning and ways
to increase it to ensure better moral reasoning outcomes. Roberts 2004 considers deductive
reasoning and a variety of sometimes faulty heuristics that negatively affect conclusions.
Stanovich 2003 describes a variety of reasoning heuristics, how they negatively affect reasoning,
and ways to improve reasoning by using heuristics more effectively.

Holyoak, Keith J., and Robert G. Morrison. 2005. Thinking and reasoning: A readers
guide. In The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning. Edited by Keith J.
Holyoak and Robert G. Morrison, 19. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Provides an overview of one of the most comprehensive volumes on thinking and
reasoning. This chapter describes different types of thinking skills and their relationship
to inductive and deductive reasoning. The authors also address the instruction of thinking
skills while providing concise overviews of each chapter in the volume.

Klauer, Karl Josef, and Gary D. Phye. 2008. Inductive reasoning: A training approach.
Review of Educational Research 78:85123.
This review summarizes the results of seventy-four training experiments using 3,600
children. Training in the use of inductive reasoning strategies improved cognitive
functioning in terms of increased fluid intelligence and better academic learning of
classroom subject matter. Training effects also produced positive problem-solving
transfer to academic learning in different tasks and content domains.

Paul, Richard, and L. Elder. 2009. Critical thinking: Ethical reasoning and fairminded
thinking, part I. Journal of Developmental Education 33:3639.
The authors discuss the intellectual roots and intellectual barriers to ethical reasoning.
They identify two functions of ethical reasoning: promoting well-being of others and
diminishing harm. They also discuss ways to improve ethical reasoning in the context of
everyday activities.

Roberts, Maxwell J. 2004. Heuristics and reasoning: Making deduction simple. In The
nature of reasoning. Edited by Jacqueline P. Leighton and Robert J. Sternberg, 234271.
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
This chapter defines deduction, provides examples of deductive reasoning, and discusses
ways to improve deductive reasoning in everyday life. The author also discusses the role
of heuristics in deductive reasoning, which provide simple rules of thumb that help
individuals reason better.

Stanovich, Keith E. 2003. The fundamental computational biases of human cognition:


Heuristics that (sometimes) impair decision making and problem solving. In The
psychology of problem solving. Edited by Janet E. Davidson and Robert J. Sternberg,
291342. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
The author provides a comprehensive review of empirical research in reasoning
heuristics, including a discussion of different heuristics and how they sometimes lead to
erroneous conclusions. The chapter also considers instructional strategies to help
individuals become aware of reasoning heuristics and use them productively in everyday
reasoning situations.

Argumentation
Argumentation focuses on generating and evaluating evidence and arguments. An argument in its
simplest form is a claim that supports a premise using credible evidence. Arguments vary from
simple to extremely complex, but there are three essential types. A simple argument uses a single
premise and a single claim. A complex argument uses multiple premises and a single claim. A
chain argument involves one premise that leads to a second premise that leads to a claim. These
arguments often involve causal chains in reasoning. A compound argument incorporates multiple
premises and claims that may involve multiple chains as well. Belland, et al. 2008 reviews
scaffolding models to help students understand and produce better evidence-based arguments.
Cavagnetto 2010 reviews intervention strategies designed to introduce and improve scientific
argumentation skills. Davies 2008 discusses reasons why students construct bad arguments and
provides suggestions for developing better argumentation skills. Inch and Warnick 1998 provides
a detailed overview of argumentation. Jonassen and Kim 2010 reviews problems with classroom
argumentation skills and discusses ways to improve skills. Zeidler, et al. 1992 describes a variety
of reasoning fallacies in scientific thinking and ways to improve thinking and argumentation.

Belland, Brian R., Krista D. Glazewski, and Jennifer C. Richardson. 2008. A scaffolding
framework to support the construction of evidence-based arguments among middle
school students. Education Technology Research and Development 56:401422.
This paper discusses the components of claims and evidence and the processes of making
evidence-based arguments. A detailed review of scaffolding models describes how
students perform various tasks associated with creating evidence-based arguments and
presents guidelines for the development of computer-based scaffolds to help middle
school students build evidence-based arguments.

Cavagnetto, Andy R. 2010. Argument to foster scientific literacy: A review of argument


interventions in K12 science contexts. Review of Educational Research 80:336371.
The author provides a comprehensive review of intervention strategies designed to
introduce and improve scientific argumentation skills. Fifty-four articles are reviewed
that examine how argument interventions promote scientific literacy. The strengths and
weaknesses of three general instructional strategies are discussed in detail.

Davies, W. Martin. 2008. Not quite right: Helping students to make better arguments.
Teaching in Higher Education 13:327340.
This paper examines the need for a better understanding of the impediments to critical
thinking. A distinction is made between word-level and sentence-level versus the
inferential-level. Davies suggests a combination of explicit use of deductive syllogistic
inferences and computer-aided argument mapping to improve everyday argumentation
skills.

Inch, Edward S., and Barbara Warnick. 1998. Critical thinking and communication: The
use of reason in argument. 6th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
This textbook provides an extremely comprehensive overview of argumentation skills,
different types of argumentation, and strategies for improving argumentation. The authors
distinguish among simple, complex, and chain arguments. They also discuss the role of
arguments, counterarguments, and rebuttals in everyday reasoning.

Jonassen, David H., and Bosung Kim. 2010. Arguing to learn and learning to argue:
Design justifications and guidelines. Education Technology Research and Development
58:439457.
The authors consider ways that argumentation facilitates conceptual change and problem
solving. They discuss reasons for using argumentation in learning environments and
describe the skills of argumentation along with difficulties that learners experience when
trying to argue. They also consider methods and guidelines for promoting better
arguments from students as well as strategies for assessing student-generated arguments.

Zeidler, Dana L., Norman G. Lederman, and Stephen C. Taylor. 1992. Fallacies and
student discourse: Conceptualizing the role of critical thinking in science education.
Science Education 76:437450.
The authors examine critical thinking and argumentation in the context of scientific
reasoning. They describe a variety of reasoning fallacies in scientific thinking, which is
defined as any argument that purports to be correct and is psychologically persuasive but
proves to have violated some rule of logic, rendering it incorrect. Several common
fallacies are discussed, including circular reasoning, hasty generalization, normative
reasoning, false dilemmas, and appeals to popularity and authority.

Problem Solving and Critical Thinking


Problem solving and critical thinking are essential skills. Problem solving typically depends on a
five-stage strategy that includes (1) identifying the problem, (2) representing the problem, (3)
selecting an appropriate strategy, (4) implementing the strategy, and (5) evaluating solutions.
Experts who study problem solving have noted that peoples ability to solve a problem depends
on two crucial factors. One is the amount of domain-specific knowledge at our disposal; the
other is the amount of experience we have in trying to solve a particular class of problems. In
contrast, critical thinking can be defined as reflective thinking focused on deciding what to
believe or do. Ennis 1987 proposes the most comprehensive set of skills thus far, distinguishing
between two major classes of critical thinking activities: dispositions and abilities. Ericsson 2003
provides a comprehensive overview of this theory of deliberate practice and its relationship to
expertise and problem solving. Mayer and Wittrock 2006 and Novick and Bassok 2005 provide
excellent historical reviews of the study of problem solving and critical thinking as well as a
process model of problem solving and factors that improve problem solving and critical thinking.

Ennis, Robert H. 1987. A taxonomy of critical thinking dispositions and abilities. In


Teaching thinking skills: Theory and practice. Edited by Joan Boykoff Baron and Robert
J. Sternberg. New York: W. H. Freeman.
A landmark chapter in the study of critical thinking that partitions skills into two broad
categories (dispositions and abilities) and identifies a variety of subskills within each
category. Implications for teaching and assessing critical thinking are discussed as well.

Ericsson, K. Anders. 2003. The acquisition of expert performance as problem solving:


Construction and modification of mediating mechanisms through deliberate practice. In
The psychology of problem solving. Edited by Janet E. Davidson and Robert J. Sternberg,
3183. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
Ericsson provides a detailed description of his theory of deliberate practice (DP),
including four main subcomponents in the development of DP: factors that affect the
development of expertise; the effect of instructional constraints, such as time and amount
of practice; expert guidance; and the role of feedback. Ericsson argues that DP and
ensuing expertise undergirds critical thinking and problem solving.

Mayer, Richard E., and Merlin C. Wittrock. 2006. Problem solving. In Handbook of
educational psychology. 2d ed. Edited by Patricia A. Alexander and Philip H. Winne,
287304. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
A comprehensive history and overview of problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
The authors present a model of problem solving and discuss the role of expert
knowledge, practice, and schemata as factors that promote effective thinking.

Novick, Laura R., and Miriam Bassok. 2005. Problem solving. In The Cambridge
handbook of thinking and reasoning. Edited by Keith J. Holyoak and Robert G. Morrison,
321350. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.
The authors provide a comprehensive review of problem solving and consider similarities
and differences in problem solving across different content domains. They provide a
conceptual model of general problem solving and discuss universal problem-solving
strategies used by experts in a variety of different content domains.

Metacognition
Metacognition refers to thinking about and regulating ones thinking and generally includes two
main subcomponents referred to as knowledge of cognition and regulation of cognition.
Knowledge of cognition refers to what we know about our cognition, whereas regulation of
cognition includes control processes, such as monitoring and evaluation. Planning involves the
selection of appropriate strategies and the allocation of resources. Monitoring includes the selftesting skills necessary to control learning. Evaluation refers to appraising the products and
regulatory processes of ones learning. Ku and Ho 2010 examines how good and poor critical
thinkers differ in terms of metacognition. Kuhn 2000 examines constraints on the development
of metacognition and ways to promote the development of different types of metacognitive
knowledge. McCormick 2003 provides a comprehensive review of research and evolving models
of metacognition. Schraw 2006 discusses subcomponents of metacognition and the
representation of metacognitive knowledge in memory. Veenman, et al. 2006 reviews competing
conceptual models of metacognition and addresses important measurement issues. White and
Frederiksen 2005 presents a framework for promoting metacognition through collaborative
inquiry.

Ku, Kelly Y. L., and Irene T. Ho. 2010. Metacognitive strategies that enhance critical
thinking. Metacognition and Learning 5:251267.
This study examines the role of metacognitive strategies in critical thinking. High- versus
low-performing students were tested on six thinking tasks using think aloud procedures.
Good critical thinkers engaged in more metacognitive activities. Implications for
instructional practice are discussed.

Kuhn, Deanna. 2000. Metacognitive development. Current Directions in Psychological


Science 9:178181.

Kuhn provides an authoritative review of the development of metacognition and its role
in critical and scientific thinking. She focuses on maturational and environmental
constraints and discusses ways individuals can become more metacognitively aware and
use this awareness to enhance learning and self-regulation.

McCormick, Christine B. 2003. Metacognition and learning. In Handbook of psychology.


Vol. 7, Educational psychology. Edited by William M. Reynolds and Gloria E. Miller,
79102. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Provides a comprehensive review of research and evolving models of metacognition. The
author discusses issues related to the conceptualization, development, instruction, and
measurement of metacognition. McCormick provides an excellent discussion of the ways
metacognitive processes promote classroom learning.

Schraw, Gregory. 2006. Knowledge: Structures and processes. In Handbook of


educational psychology. 2d ed. Edited by Patricia A. Alexander and Philip H. Winne,
245264. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
This chapter reviews different components of metacognition, such as knowledge and
regulation of cognition, and discusses how they are related to memory, expertise, and
critical thinking. Special attention is given to the representation of metacognitive
knowledge in memory.

Veenman, Marcel V. J., Bernadette H. A. Van Hout-Walters, and Peter Afflerbach. 2006.
Metacognition and learning: Conceptual and methodological considerations.
Metacognition and Learning 1:314.
The authors provide an excellent discussion of the evolution of the metacognition
construct, tracing its history from conceptual writings in the 1970s to more recent
processing models of metacognition. Special attention is devoted to ways to
operationalize and measure metacognition in order to better understand specific
metacognitive processes, such as the feeling of knowing.

White, Barbara, and John Frederiksen. 2005. A theoretical framework and approach for
fostering metacognitive development. Educational Psychologist 40:211223.
Presents a theoretical framework for the development of metacognitive knowledge
through collaborative inquiry and reflective writing. The authors also discuss at length the
role of technology in promoting student engagement.

Types of Assessments
Assessments of thinking skills may be divided into five general categories based on their
purpose. These categories General Aptitude and Achievement, General Thinking Skills, Content
Knowledge, Procedural Learning, Attitudes and Dispositions. Each of the five types of outcomes

is necessary for a comprehensive assessment of a thinking skills intervention. Intellectual


aptitude and achievement refer to theories and measures of intelligence, while achievement
refers to general academic progress. General thinking skills refers to domain-general thinking
skills that are essential in all domains. Content knowledge refers to the assessment of facts,
concepts, schemata, and mental models of information in a specific domain, often due to a
specific thinking-skills intervention program. Knowledge also includes higher-order
understanding of essential processes in a domain, such as photosynthesis. In some cases,
knowledge may include an understanding of skills (e.g., argumentative writing) and information
(e.g., criteria for judging the credibility of evidence) that cut across a wide variety of domains.
Procedural understanding includes the use of specific thinking skills and strategies, such as
generating inferences; self-regulatory processes, such as metacognitive monitoring; or contentbased procedural skills, such as selecting the appropriate statistical analysis. Procedural
knowledge also includes the ability to execute complex procedural sequences that one must
understand to master a domain, such as conducting an experiment or operating sophisticated
equipment. Attitudes and dispositions refer to attitudes about thinking-skills instruction or skill
implementation or dispositions that predispose students to learn and use skills. This section
provides citations of recent articles that discuss the assessment of these skills or provide
examples of such assessments.
General Aptitude and Achievement
Most studies of critical thinking use some measure of general aptitude or achievement. These
two types of assessments measure different outcomes and make different assumptions about the
changeability of these outcomes. Most theories of intelligence assume that aptitude is more or
less fixed and is unchanged by schooling. In contrast, general achievement is assumed to be
strongly influenced by schooling. For this reason, it is helpful to include measures of both
general aptitude and achievement. Ackerman, et al. 2005 reports that working memory and
intelligence are correlated yet represent two separate aspects of aptitude that each correlate with
learning. Ackerman and Lohman 2006 provides a comprehensive review of theories of human
ability and their relationship to critical thinking and learning. Macpherson and Stanovich 2007
shows that ability and dispositions are related to overcoming biased reasoning. West, et al. 2008
reports that critical thinking and biased reasoning are correlated with one another and with
thinking dispositions yet are independent of intellectual ability. This suggests that good critical
thinking is related to beliefs about and use of good reasoning skills rather than intelligence.
Zohar and Dori 2003 reports that low-achieving students make significant gains in critical
thinking due to instruction.

Ackerman, Phillip L., Margaret E. Beier, and Mary O. Boyle. 2005. Working memory
and intelligence: The same or different constructs? Psychological Bulletin 131:3060.
This review and meta-analysis compares current theories of working memory and
intelligence. The authors show that the two constructs are correlated in the .50 range and
argue that working memory and intelligence are not the same construct.
Recommendations are made with respect to measurement of the constructs and their use
as correlates of learning, instructional effectiveness, and achievement.

Ackerman, Phillip L., and David F. Lohman. 2006. Individual differences in cognitive
function. In Handbook of educational psychology. 2d ed. Edited by Patricia A. Alexander
and Philip H. Winne, 139162. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
This chapter reviews theories of intelligence and the relationship among intelligence,
learning, and academic achievement. Intelligence is compared to other cognitive
phenomena, such as working memory and long-term memory. The authors also discuss
factors that mediate intellectual development and performance, such as age, gender,
ethnicity, and opportunity to learn.

Macpherson, Robyn, and Keith E. Stanovich. 2007. Cognitive ability, thinking


dispositions, and instructional set as predictors of critical thinking. Learning and
Individual Differences 17:115127.
This study examined the role of intellectual ability and thinking dispositions in biased
reasoning and overcoming bias. Neither ability nor disposition was related to bias, but
both were correlated positively with overcoming bias.

West, Richard F., Maggie E. Toplak, and Keith E. Stanovich. 2008. Heuristics and biases
as measures of critical thinking: Associations with cognitive ability and thinking
dispositions. Journal of Educational Psychology 100:930941.
This study found that biases in reasoning were moderately correlated with criticalthinking skills and that this correlation was not related to general intellectual ability. In
contrast, measures of thinking dispositions (e.g., open-minded thinking and need for
cognition) were correlated with critical-thinking skills even after general cognitive ability
had been controlled.

Zohar, Anat, and Yehudit J. Dori. 2003. Higher order thinking skills and low-achieving
students: Are they mutually exclusive? Journal of the Learning Sciences 12:145181.
A set of four studies examined whether low-achievement students benefited from criticalthinking skills instruction. Results showed that all students gained significantly, even
though high-achievement students made greater progress than low-achievement students.
This suggests that low-achievement students are capable of learning and using criticalthinking skills through programmatic instruction.

General Thinking Skills


General thinking skills include reasoning strategies, such as drawing inferences and evidencebased conclusions, that are essential in every academic domain. A number of tests have been
developed to assess general thinking skills, while a number of validation studies have compared
these assessments and evaluated their technical properties as well. Bernard, et al. 2008 examines
the factor structure of the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal to examine whether it
assesses one general critical thinking skill factor. Facione and Facione 2007 describes the
development and validation of the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory. Halonen

2008 provides a particularly useful summary of the off-the-shelf critical thinking assessments.
Halpern 2007 describes the development and validation of the Halpern Critical Thinking
Assessment. Iwaoka, et al. 2010 discusses gains in performance on the Cornell Critical Thinking
Test. Renaud and Murray 2008 reports that students performed better on subject-specific test
questions than on subject-independent questions. Watson and Glaser 1980 describes the
development and validation of the authors critical-thinking skills test.

Bernard, Robert M., Dai Zhang, Philip C. Abrami, Fiore Sicoly, Evgueni Borokhovski,
and Michael A. Surkes. 2008. Exploring the structure of the Watson-Glaser Critical
Thinking Appraisal: One scale or many subscales? Thinking Skills and Creativity 3:15
22.
This study examined the theoretical structure of the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking
Appraisal (WGCTA), which is constructed around five critical thinking skills: inference,
recognition of assumptions, deduction, interpretation, and evaluation of arguments.
Factor analyses suggested one strong general factor that could be interpreted as a general
thinking-skills competency factor.

Facione, Peter A., and Noreen C. Facione. 2007. California Critical Thinking Disposition
Inventory. Millbrae, CA: Insight Assessment.
This test describes eight components of critical-thinking dispositions, such as openmindedness, critical-thinking confidence, inquisitiveness, and cognitive maturity. The test
consists of seventy-five multiple choice items that yield one overall composite score. The
authors also provide limited information about reliability and validity.

Halonen, Jane S. 2008. Measure for measure: The challenge of assessing critical thinking.
In Teaching critical thinking in psychology: A handbook of best practices. Edited by
Dana S. Dunn, Jane S. Halonen, and Randolph A. Smith, 6175. Chichester, UK: WileyBlackwell.
This chapter discusses ten themes about teaching and assessing critical thinking. The
author provides a detailed list of off-the-shelf critical-thinking assessments and practical
suggestions for matching assessments to students and types of thinking skills
interventions.

Halpern, Diane F. 2007. Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment using everyday situations:
Background and scoring standards. Claremont, CA: Claremont McKenna College.
Describes the development, norming, and interpretation of the Halpern Critical Thinking
Assessment (HCTA). The author also discusses the relationship between the HCTA and
other measures of critical thinking and intelligence.

Iwaoka, Wayne T., Yong Li, and Walter Y. Rhee. 2010. Measuring gains in critical
thinking in food science and human nutrition courses: The Cornell Critical Thinking Test,

problem-based learning activities, and student journal entries. Journal of Food Science
Education 9:6875.
This study examined gains in general critical-thinking skills over an eight-year period
using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test (CCTT). The CCTT was administered as a pre
and a post test, revealing significant gains in two components of critical thinking
(deduction and assumption) but not in the other aspects. These gains were contrasted with
gains described in students reflective journals.

Renaud, Robert D., and Harry G. Murray. 2008. A comparison of a subject-specific and a
general measure of critical thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity 3:8593.
This study compared performance on subject-general and subject-specific test questions
on gains in critical thinking. An effect was found when the tests of critical thinking
contained questions that were subject-specific (e.g., introductory psychology) rather than
questions that focused on subject-general topics. This suggests that improvement due to
classroom instruction may be isolated to subject-specific thinking skills.

Watson, Goodwin, and Edward M. Glaser. 1980. Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking


Appraisal. Cleveland, OH: Psychological Corporation.
Describes the development, norming, and interpretation of the Watson-Glaser test of
critical thinking, which had been the gold standard since its inception. The manual also
discusses the relationship between the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal and
other measures of critical thinking and intelligence.

Content Knowledge
Content knowledge refers to understanding information at a number of different levels, including
facts, concepts, schemata, and mental models. Each of these levels is increasingly sophisticated
and therefore more difficult to assess in a reliable and valid manner. A number of authors have
discussed the use of learning Taxonomies for aligning instruction and assessments. In addition, a
variety of assessment strategies have been used to measure learning at each of these levels. The
most common strategies used in critical-thinking research include Multiple Choice Tests and
written Essays and Reports.

Taxonomies
Taxonomies of learning provide multilevel frameworks for understanding the types of
information individuals learn and how that information is stored in memory. Most taxonomies
range from simple facts at the low end to synthesis and creation of new ideas from existing
information at the high end. Taxonomies are extremely useful for planning, implementing, and
assessing instruction and learning. The works cited here focus on the two most commonly used
taxonomies based on the pioneering work of Benjamin Bloom and the Structure of the Observed
Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy. Anderson, et al. 2001 describes the foundational work of
Bloom and the development of a revision of Blooms taxonomy. Bissell and Lemons 2006

illustrates how taxonomies may be used to develop and validate course-specific assessments in
science. Chan, et al. 2002 compares how well three different taxonomies performed when used to
score long essays. Mayer 2002 classifies nineteen types of cognitive processes using Blooms
revised taxonomy. Smith and Colby 2007 examines how the five-level SOLO taxonomy could be
used to promote deep versus shallow learning.

Anderson, Lorin W., David R. Krathwohl, Peter W. Airasian, Kathleen A. Cruikshank,


Richard E. Mayer, Paul R. Pintrich, James Raths, and Merlin C. Wittrock. 2001. A
taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Blooms taxonomy of
educational objectives. New York: Longman.
This group of scholars provides a comprehensive review of Blooms taxonomy and a
revision to that taxonomy that is appropriate for planning instructional interventions and
assessing a wide variety of learning outcomes. Guidelines for using the taxonomy to plan,
implement, and assess instruction are discussed.

Bissell, Ahrash N., and Paula P. Lemons. 2006. A new method for assessing critical
thinking in the classroom. BioScience 56:6672.
This study discusses the use of Blooms revised taxonomy of learning to create
assessments at multiple levels that are appropriate for a college-level biology class. The
authors provide a detailed step-by-step item development process and discuss validation
and score interpretation as well.

Chan, Charles C., M. S. Tsui, and Mandy Y. C. Chan. 2002. Applying the Structure of the
Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) taxonomy on students learning outcomes: An
empirical study. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 27:511527.
This article examines the use of three educational taxonomies in measuring students
cognitive learning outcomes: the SOLO taxonomy, Blooms taxonomy, and the reflective
thinking measurement mode. It was found that SOLO performed best for analyzing
written essays.

Mayer, Richard E. 2002. A taxonomy for computer-based assessment of problem solving.


Computers in Human Behavior 18:623632.
This article classifies nineteen types of cognitive processes into six major categories:
remembering, understanding, applications, analysis, evaluation, and creating. Mayer also
provides examples of computer-based assessments of critical thinking and problem
solving.

Smith, Tracy Wilson, and Susan A. Colby. 2007. Teaching for deep learning. Clearing
House 80:205210.
The authors discuss the SOLO taxonomy of learning and its use in planning and
implementing classroom instruction geared toward deep learning. The SOLO model

describes five levels of understanding, referred to as prestructural, unistructural,


multistructural, relational, and deep abstract. The first three levels focus on shallow
learning, and the later two levels focus on deep learning.

Multiple Choice Tests


Multiple choice (MC) format assessments have been the staple of educational testing for a
century. Experts agree that multiple choice tests are very useful assessment tools, especially for
measuring facts and concepts in a quick and efficient manner. However, multiple choice tests are
less useful when assessing deeper learning, especially the relationship between concepts (i.e.,
conceptual understanding); mental models of a complex process, such as photosynthesis; or
structural understanding of complex systems, such as atomic structures, plans, or the solar
system. The works cited here discuss the strengths and weaknesses of multiple choice tests and
guidelines for developing and using them in the most effective way. Fellenz 2004 describes a
procedure in which deep understanding improves when students write multiple choice test items.
Ku 2009 reviews the relative strengths and weaknesses of multiple choice format assessments.
Leung, et al. 2008 finds that high-quality multiple choice test items did not improve learning.
Wagner and Harvey 2006 describes the development and validation of a new critical-thinking
skills test using a multiple choice format, which reduces guessing compared to the WatsonGlaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. Williams 2006 finds that assertion-reason questions (ARQ)
do not have a positive effect on deep learning as predicted.

Fellenz, Martin R. 2004. Using assessment to support higher level learning: The multiple
choice item development assignment. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
29:703719.
This study describes a procedure in which students were able to increase their depth of
understanding by writing multiple choice items. The multiple choice item development
assignment (MCIDA) asked students to write multiple choice items, write justifications
for both correct and incorrect answer options, and determine the highest cognitive level
that the item is testing. The article discusses the benefits and limitations of the procedure.

Ku, Kelly Y. L. 2009. Assessing students critical thinking performance: Urging for
measurements using multi-response format. Thinking Skills and Creativity 4:7076.
This article discusses the strengths and weaknesses of multiple choice response format
tests compared to other knowledge assessments, such as open-ended formats scored with
rubrics. Ku argues for a new generation of assessments using a wide variety of formats
that better enable the examinee to demonstrate critical-thinking skills.

Leung, Sau Fong, Esther Mok, and Daniel Wong. 2008. The impact of assessment
methods on the learning of nursing students. Nurse Education Today 28:711719.
This study examined the effect of high- versus low-quality multiple choice tests on the
learning approaches of nursing students. There was no association with multiple choice
assessment to deep or shallow learning. However, focus-group interviews indicated that

scenario-based questions, simulated role-play situations, and case studies facilitated


critical thinking more than multiple choice items.

Wagner, Teresa A., and Robert J. Harvey. 2006. Development of a new critical thinking
test using item response theory. Psychological Assessment 18:100105.
The authors describe the development of the Wagner Assessment Test (WAT) for critical
thinking based on the five-component model used by the Watson-Glaser Critical
Thinking Appraisal. The WAT uses a multiple choice format. Results using a threeparameter logistic item response theory (IRT) model indicated the WAT reduced
successful guessing and covered a wider range of ability levels compared to the WatsonGlaser test.

Williams, Jeremy B. 2006. Assertion-reason multiple-choice testing as a tool for deep


learning: A qualitative analysis. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 31:287
301.
This study investigated the use of assertion-reason questions (ARQ), which are a
sophisticated form of multiple choice format questions that encourage higher-order
thinking. In previous research, ARQ test performance was a good predictor of student
performance in essaysthe assessment instrument most widely favored as an indicator of
deeper learning. In contrast, the present study found that ARQ performance was due to
language proficiency.

Essays and Reports


Most critical-thinking interventions examine student writing outcomes. Writing can be used to
examine the amount and quality of evidence and arguments, counterarguments, and rebuttals.
Writing also can be scored for overall coherence, drawing evidence-supported inferences, and
conceptual change. Written products range from short answers to long, detailed persuasion
pieces. However, essays, written reports, and position papers are the most commonly used
outcomes. Written outcomes typically are scored with rubrics in order to assess the quality of
critical thinking on a variety of dimensions. The sources included in this section discuss both
instructional guidelines for helping individuals write effective essays and developing and using
rubrics to evaluate essays. Asay and Curry 2003 provides an instructional sequence to improve
critical thinking, and written essays that provide evidence of instructional gains. Jones 2004
describes a one-step instructional sequence that promotes higher-level critical thinking. Kember,
et al. 2008 describes a four-level scoring rubric to evaluate critical reflection. Lupton 2008
examines the development of critical thinking when students are taught how to research a topic
for an essay assessment. Popp, et al. 2009 discusses the use of anchor papers and rubrics for
scoring written assignments.

Asay, Sylvia M., and Beverly M. Curry. 2003. Implementing and assessing a critical
thinking problem solving project. Journal of Teaching in Marriage and Family 3:375
400.

This article discusses the use of extended written reports and projects to assess critical
thinking. The authors provide a detailed, seven-step description of the instructional
intervention to improve thinking and a corresponding rubric to score instructional
outcomes. A discussion of strategies for weighting each critical thinking outcome is also
provided.

Jones, A. 2004. Teaching critical thinking: An investigation of a task in introductory


macroeconomics. Higher Education Research and Development 23:167181.
This study examined a critical-thinking skills program using a nine-step instructional
strategy. Learning was assessed using essays that were scored at three levels of critical
thinking. Findings suggested that higher-level critical thinking is promoted through
inquiry-based learning.

Kember, David, Jan McKay, Kit Sinclair, and Frances Kam Yuet. 2008. A four-category
scheme for coding and assessing the level of reflection in written work. Assessment and
Evaluation in Higher Education 33:369379.
This article discusses a protocol for assessing the level of reflection in written reports and
research projects. The protocol consists of four levels: habitual action and nonreflection,
understanding, reflection, and critical reflection. Intermediate categories can also be used.
Detailed descriptors of each category to guide the process are provided.

Lupton, Mandy. 2008. Evidence, argument, and social responsibility: First-year students
experiences of information literacy when researching an essay. Higher Education
Research and Development 27:399414.
This article examines the development of critical thinking when students are taught how
to research a topic for an essay assessment. Results indicate that critical thinking and
essay writing developed simultaneously in the specific context of course content. Eight
guidelines to promote critical thinking are provided.

Popp, Sharon E. Osborn, Joseph M. Ryan, and Marilyn S. Thompson. 2009. The critical
role of anchor paper selection in writing assessment. Applied Measurement in Education
22:255271.
This study examines the use of anchor papers and rubrics for scoring written assignments.
Within-grade anchor papers yielded more reliable results than between-grade anchor
papers. The authors also discuss strategies for selecting anchors that are aligned to
instructional goals and rubrics.

Procedural Learning
Procedural learning refers to an individual being able to execute essential procedures in a
proficient manner. Classroom learning requires students to read, count, spell, and perform many
other important procedures, ranging from simple one-step operations to complex, multistep

operations. Assessing procedural skills can be challenging and time consuming because they
involve doing. Although there are a variety of assessment methods, performance observation
(PO) and think aloud (TA) assessments are the most common and important (see Performance
Observation, Think Alouds). Performance observations refer to observations of performance
made by the performer, peers, or most often the teacher or expert evaluator. Think alouds refer to
a special type of performance observation that uses the performers verbalization while engaged
in the procedure.

Performance Observation
Assessment of procedural learning requires the evaluator to specify the procedure and provide
criteria for successful performance. Performance can be measured in a wide variety of ways and
contexts, including written documentation, a performance demonstration, or real-time
performance in a real or virtual environment. Clarke-Midura and Dede 2010 compares the
advantages of assessment in virtual computer environments to information available through
traditional paper-and-pencil tests. Fero, et al. 2010 examines the relationship between videotaped
performances and scores on general thinking skills assessments and report no relationship
between them. Kreiter and Bergus 2009 provides a model of clinical reasoning that uses multiple
types of performance data to make decisions. Tractenberg, et al. 2010 considers ways
performance rubrics may be used in a variety of assessment settings.

Clarke-Midura, Jody, and Christopher J. Dede. 2010. Assessment, technology, and


change. Journal of Research on Technology in Education 42:309328.
This article describes research on the use of immersive technologies to develop virtual
performance assessments. The authors provide a model based on virtual simulations in
which performance is measured through both observation and trace data, such as time,
look-backs, requests for help, and Internet searches.

Fero, Laura J., John M. ODonnell, Thomas G. Zullo, Annette DeVito Dabbs, Julius
Kitutu, Joseph T. Samosky, and Leslie A. Hoffman. 2010. Critical thinking skills in
nursing students: Comparison of simulation-based performance with metrics. Journal of
Advanced Nursing 66:21822193.
This study examined performance of critical thinking using simulated clinical scenarios
in nursing. Participants were compared using videotaped performances, the California
Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory, and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test.
Performance did not meet expectations in simulated clinical scenarios and was
uncorrelated with scores on the critical thinking tests. This suggests that performance
measures may be more sensitive to clinical thinking than paper and pencil tests.

Kreiter, Clarence D., and George Bergus. 2009. The validity of performance-based
measures of clinical reasoning and alternative approaches. Medical Education 43:320
325.

The authors discuss performance assessment of clinical reasoning in medical diagnosis.


They present a process model of clinical reasoning in which knowledge, think aloud data,
and diagnostic procedures are used to determine the reliability and validity of clinical
decisions.

Tractenberg, Rochelle E., Jason G. Umans, and Robert J. McCarter. 2010. A mastery
rubric: Guiding curriculum design, admissions, and development of course objectives.
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 35:1532.
This article discusses the development of a mastery rubric to evaluate clinical research
skills. The authors distinguish among four levels of performance achievement: beginning,
novice, competent, and proficient. They also provide guidelines for constructing rubrics
and evaluating performance in the most reliable and valid manner possible across a
variety of assessment settings.

Think Alouds
Think aloud methodology has been used for over twenty years to investigate online thinking and
reasoning. Concurrent think alouds refers to verbal explanations of ongoing mental activities
while those activities are taking place, and retrospective think alouds refers to a description of
cognitive processes after that activity is over. The sources in this section describe the rationale,
execution, scoring, and validity of concurrent think aloud procedures. They also describe a
variety of strategies and critical-thinking skills that occur while thinking aloud. Daly 2001
describes a think aloud procedure employed while performing a clinical simulation activity. King
and Kitchener 2004 describes the use of the reflective judgment interview in the context of
assessing reflective judgment. Magliano, et al. 2010 summarizes the Reading Strategy
Assessment Tool (RSAT), which can be used to evaluate critical reading processes. Phillips and
Bond 2004 investigates the concurrent critical thinking experiences of college undergraduates.
Pressley and Afflerbach 1995 provides a book-length review of think aloud procedures used to
investigate all aspects of reading. Zanov and Davison 2010 provides a review of research using
the Articulated Thoughts in Simulated Situations (ATSS) paradigm, a think aloud cognitive
assessment approach that captures ongoing thinking in clinical settings.

Daly, William M. 2001. The development of an alternative method in the assessment of


critical thinking as an outcome of nursing education. Journal of Advanced Nursing
36:120130.
This study used a longitudinal, multimethod design that compared the Watson and Glaser
Critical Thinking Appraisal and a researcher-developed think aloud technique
incorporating a videotaped client simulation. Findings showed no significant differences
in pre- and postprogram Watson-Glaser mean scores, and think alouds showed limited
evidence of critical thinking.

King, Patricia M., and Karen Strohm Kitchener. 2004. Reflective judgment: Theory and
research on the development of epistemic assumptions through adulthood. Educational
Psychologist 39:518.

This review describes twenty-five years of research on the reflective judgment model,
which incorporates a variety of critical-thinking skills. The authors discuss the models
seven-level framework and the reflective judgment interview method, which uses
concurrent verbal reports of reflective judgment.

Magliano, Joseph P., Keith K. Millis, Irwin Levinstein, and Chutima Boonthum. 2010.
Assessing comprehension during reading with the Reading Strategy Assessment Tool
(RSAT). Metacognition and Learning 5:131154.
This study assessed the Reading Strategy Assessment Tool (RSAT), which is an
automated computer-based reading assessment designed to measure readers
comprehension and critical thinking while reading texts. The RSAT predicted
comprehension comparable to standardized tests and was correlated with human ratings.

Phillips, Virginia, and Carol Bond. 2004. Undergraduates experiences of critical


thinking. Higher Education Research and Development 23:278294.
This research examined university students experiences of critical thinking using
concurrent think alouds. Results identified four experiences of critical thinking, ranging
from a prescribed process to an evaluation that looked beyond what is evident, and a
number of dimensional attributes.

Pressley, Michael, and Peter Afflerbach. 1995. Verbal protocols of reading: The nature of
constructively responsive reading. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
This text provides detailed guidelines for planning, scoring, analyzing, and interpreting
think aloud data. It also provides a detailed taxonomy of a very large array of strategies
and critical reasoning skills used in text comprehension that apply to other domains of
critical thinking and reasoning.

Zanov, Marat V., and Gerald C. Davison. 2010. A conceptual and empirical review of 25
years of cognitive assessment using the Articulated Thoughts in Simulated Situations
(ATSS) think-aloud paradigm. Cognitive Therapy and Research 34:282291.
This paper provides a review of research using the Articulated Thoughts in Simulated
Situations paradigm, a think aloud cognitive assessment approach that is intended to
capture ongoing thinking. The ATSS is useful in assessing complex cognitions in a
variety of investigator-controlled situations. The authors describe the strengths and
weaknesses of the ATSS as well as reliability and validity evidence from a variety of
empirical studies.

Attitudes and Dispositions


Attitudes and dispositions play an important role in the learning process. Attitudes refers to
beliefs individuals have about their ability to learn and their willingness to engage in a task (see
Attitudes), while dispositions refers to personality and dispositional factors that predispose an

individual to act or respond in a certain way (see Dispositions). Attitudes are usually considered
to be state-like in that they change depending on the specific situation and context a person is
placed in. Dispositions, such as anxiety or depression, are considered trait-like because they are
more stable, less likely to change, and may be affected by individual biology.

Attitudes
Individuals hold a wide variety of attitudes that affect learning. The most commonly studied
attitudes include intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, attributions, and goal
orientations. Intrinsic motivation refers to ones inner desire to engage in an activity, whereas
extrinsic motivation refers to external factors, such as rewards, that affect engagement. Selfefficacy refers to the degree of confidence that one can perform a specific task. Attributions
refers to the variables that individuals use to explain why they succeed (e.g., effort, ability) or
fail (e.g., task difficulty) in academic settings. Goal orientations refers to whether individuals are
motivated by a sense of mastery or high performance standards. Chan, et al. 2011 describes the
relationships between epistemic beliefs and critical thinking. Lynch 2010 discusses how selfefficacy and intrinsic motivation are related to critical thinking. Phan 2009 also considers the
direct and indirect effects of self-efficacy, goal orientations, and critical thinking on academic
achievement. Stupnisky, et al. 2008 discusses the relationship among perceived control, critical
thinking, and academic achievement. Zhang, et al. 2009 describes the development and
validation of an instrument to assess college students motivation to engage in critical reasoning
in online discussions.

Chan, Ngai-Man, Irene T. Ho, and Kelly Y. L. Ku. 2011. Epistemic beliefs and critical
thinking of Chinese students. Learning and Individual Differences 21:6777.
Two studies examined the relationship between epistemic beliefs and critical thinking.
Results showed that cognitive ability and a belief that knowledge is certain were related
to thinking performance, especially the quality of counterarguments. Implications for the
enhancement of critical thinking are discussed.

Lynch, Douglas J. 2010. Motivational beliefs and learning strategies as predictors of


academic performance in college physics. College Student Journal 44:146154.
This study examined the relationship between motivational variables and attitudes in
college students. Self-efficacy, effort, and intrinsic motivation were significantly
correlated with self-reported use of critical-thinking skills.

Phan, Huy Phuong. 2009. Relations between goals, self-efficacy, critical thinking, and
deep processing strategies: A path analysis. Educational Psychology 29:777799.
This study discusses two empirical studies that examined the direct and indirect effects of
self-efficacy, goal orientations, and critical thinking on academic achievement. Mastery
goals and self-efficacy were related to critical thinking but not to achievement.

Stupnisky, Robert H., Robert D. Renaud, Lia M. Daniels, Tara L. Haynes, and Raymond
P. Perry. 2008. The interrelation of first-year college students critical thinking
disposition, perceived academic control, and academic achievement. Research in Higher
Education 49:513530.
This longitudinal study examined the reciprocal effects between critical-thinking
dispositions and perceived academic control and their effects on the academic
achievement of college students. Results show that students perceived academic control
predicted their subsequent critical-thinking dispositions, and students critical-thinking
disposition predicted their subsequent perceived academic control.

Zhang, T., M. J. Koehler, and A. Spatariu. 2009. The development of the Motivation for
Critical Reasoning in Online Discussions Inventory (MCRODI). American Journal of
Distance Education 23:194211.
This study developed an inventory that measures students motivation to engage in
critical reasoning in online discussions. Six motivational constructs were supported:
interest and enjoyment, normative goals, outcome goals, implicit theories, self-efficacy
perception, and finishing requirements. Implications for instruction are discussed.

Dispositions
Critical-thinking dispositions refers to more or less stable personality characteristics, such as
inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, and truth-seeking, that affect the extent to which individuals
engage in critical thinking. Research has focused on two aspects of critical-thinking dispositions:
the number of viable dispositions and the extent to which each of them impacts thinking. Chang,
et al. 2011 reviews the effect of cultural differences on critical-thinking skills and dispositions.
Clifford, et al. 2004 investigates the effects of intellectual ability and dispositions on criticalthinking performance. Ku and Ho 2010 reports that the disposition of concern for truth
accounted for unique additional variance in critical thinking beyond that explained by cognitive
ability. Yang and Chou 2008 reports that critical-thinking skills were related positively to
dispositions and that critical-thinking skill instruction increases dispositions.

Chang, Lei, Miranda C. K. Mak, Tong Li, Bao Pei Wu, Bin Bin Chen, and Hui Jing Lu.
2011. Cultural adaptations to environmental variability: An evolutionary account of EastWest differences. Educational Psychology Review 23:99129.
This review considers the role of culture on individual adaptation and academic
performance. The authors argue that culture affects learning styles and learning traits that
impact dispositions related to critical thinking and learning.

Clifford, Jennifer S., Magdalen M. Boufal, and John E. Kurtz. 2004. Personality traits
and critical thinking skills in college students: Empirical tests of a two-factor theory.
Assessment 11:169176.

This study investigated a two-factor theory defining critical-thinking skills as a combined


effect of cognitive abilities and personality dispositions. Results show that openness-toexperience scores accounted for significant incremental variance in critical-thinking
scores beyond that accounted for by similarities subtest scores. These findings suggest
that intellectual ability and openness are independent predictors of critical-thinking skills.

Ku, Kelly Y. L., and Irene T. Ho. 2010. Dispositional factors predicting Chinese students
critical thinking performance. Personality and Individual Differences 48:5458.
This study examined the relationship among critical thinking, intelligence, and
personality factors, such as the need for cognition, openness to experience and
conscientiousness, and concern for truth scales. Results show that only the disposition of
concern for truth accounted for unique additional variance in critical thinking beyond that
explained by cognitive ability.

Yang, Ya-Ting C., and Hang-An Chou. 2008. Beyond critical thinking skills:
Investigating the relationship between critical thinking skills and dispositions through
different online instructional strategies. British Journal of Educational Technology
39:666684.
This study examined the relationship between critical-thinking skills, such as inference
and analysis, and dispositions, such as truth-seeking and open-mindedness. Results
indicate that critical-thinking skills were related positively to dispositions and that
critical-thinking skill instruction increased dispositions.

LAST MODIFIED: 11/29/2011


DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199828340-0062
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