How To Assess Critical Thinking

How To Assess Critical Thinking-61
In other words, a test is not valid or invalid in itself.

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“Everyone always argues from their own self-interest, including me”.

“If there are four reasons in favor and one against, I’ll go with the four”.) Development of the CCTDI made it possible to test whether good critical thinking abilities and good critical thinking dispositions go together, in which case it might be enough to teach one without the other.

An instrument is reliable if it consistently produces the same result, whether across different forms of the same test (parallel-forms reliability), across different items (internal consistency), across different administrations to the same person (test-retest reliability), or across ratings of the same answer by different people (inter-rater reliability).

Internal consistency should be expected only if the instrument purports to measure a single undifferentiated construct, and thus should not be expected of a test that measures a suite of critical thinking dispositions or critical thinking abilities, assuming that some people are better in some of the respects measured than in others (for example, very willing to inquire but rather closed-minded).

If an item probes less directly for a critical thinking disposition, for example by asking how often the test taker pays close attention to views with which the test taker disagrees, the answer may differ from reality because of self-deception or simple lack of awareness of one’s personal thinking style, and its interpretation is problematic, even if factor analysis enables one to identify a distinct factor measured by a group of questions that includes this one (Ennis 1996).

Nevertheless, Facione, Sánchez, and Facione (1994) used this approach to develop the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI).Determining the degree of validity of such an interpretation requires collection and integration of the relevant evidence, which may be based on test content, test takers’ response processes, a test’s internal structure, relationship of test scores to other variables, and consequences of the interpretation (American Educational Research Association 2014: 13–21).Criterion-related evidence consists of correlations between scores on the test and performance on another test of the same construct; its weight depends on how well supported is the assumption that the other test can be used as a criterion.Facione (2000) reports that administration of the CCTDI and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) to almost 8,000 post-secondary students in the United States revealed a statistically significant but weak correlation between total scores on the two tests, and also between paired sub-scores from the two tests.The implication is that both abilities and dispositions need to be taught, that one cannot expect improvement in one to bring with it improvement in the other.The Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) is unique among them in being designed for use by college faculty to help them improve their development of students’ critical thinking skills (Haynes et al. Also, for some years the United Kingdom body OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA Examinations) awarded AS and A Level certificates in critical thinking on the basis of an examination (OCR 2011).Many of these standardized tests have received scholarly evaluations at the hands of, among others, Ennis (1958), Mc Peck (1981), Norris and Ennis (1989), Fisher and Scriven (1997), and Possin (2008, 2013a, 2013b, 2014).How can one assess, for purposes of instruction or research, the degree to which a person possesses the dispositions, skills and knowledge of a critical thinker?In psychometrics, assessment instruments are judged according to their validity and reliability.They regard these tests along with the previously mentioned tests of critical thinking dispositions as the building blocks for a comprehensive test of rationality, whose development (they write) may be logistically difficult and would require millions of dollars.A model of assessment of an aspect of critical thinking ability is the Test on Appraising Observations (Norris & King 1983, 1985, 1990a, 1990b), which was designed for classroom administration to senior high school students.


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