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"Harnessing the power of critical thinking is instrumental in the way we will prepare the next generation of leaders, here, at TCU's Neeley School of Business.  Focused, practical inquiry is essential for our students and faculty to work, arm-in-arm, to generate and deploy the insights that will shape the global practice of business.  In this way, we are able to fulfill our promise to unleash human potential with leadership at the core and innovation in our spirit."

Daniel Pullin,

John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business at Texas Christian University and

 Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The following is a guest post from Peter A. Facione, Ph.D., after presenting a faculty workshop at the Neeley School of Business, TCU.

Teaching Critical Thinking for Business Majors

The accolades for the Neeley School of Business scroll in images across the home page of their website. No need to dig any deeper than their own promotional messages.  Sometimes, the truth is in the advertising.

The approach of the faculty of the Neeley School of Business is to infuse teaching for critical thinking into all their regular undergraduate and graduate courses.  That is why they invited Insight Assessment to provide a faculty development workshop.

At the workshop, we shared additional techniques and strategies to teach for critical thinking in content-rich business disciplines -- everything from accounting and supply chain management to marketing, MIS, finance, and management.

This year, one of their senior tenured faculty, Professor Robert Rhodes, recognized by the university as Professor of the Year, is introducing what may be the first of its kind critical thinking courses for undergraduate business majors.  He, and his colleagues, hope to introduce a comparable course at the MBA level next year.

In my opinion, this is groundbreaking work. 

A first, certainly, among highly ranked undergraduate and graduate AACSB accredited business programs, if not all business programs. 

The optimal educational model for a professional school is to infuse critical thinking pedagogy in all courses AND to offer all students at least one integrative course explicitly focused on understanding and applying critical thinking in the profession. 

The Neeley School of Business has the prestige, credibility, and confidence in its faculty to be taking a leadership position, nationally, in the development of strong critical thinking skills and positive habits of the mind in all their students. Their curriculum will be the first to teach both ‘for critical thinking’ and ‘about critical thinking’ in business.

The future is now; hand pointed forward in front of a blue cloud

About Peter A. Facione, Ph.D

Dr. Facione is a Co-Founder and a Senior Researcher at Insight Assessment.  He is also a Principal at Measured Reasons LLC, a Los Angeles based firm supporting excellence in organizational consulting.

Assessing Critical Thinking

Many business schools utilize Insight Assessment’s critical thinking tools to evaluate program applicants, learning outcomes, program effectiveness and gather accreditation data. Insight Assessment has published both undergraduate and graduate percentiles in the Business Critical Thinking Skills Test (BCTST) for students enrolled at AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accredited business programs.

This Guest Blog Post by Peter A. Facione, Ph.D., Measured Reasons LLC, is presented as part of Insight Assessment's commitment to advancing critical thinking worldwide.  In it he summarizes his recent keynote speech at the 9th Annual Critical Thinking and Innovative Education Conference in Beijing, China.

This recounting of the 50-year journey to define, teach, and measure critical thinking begins at the end, with assessment.

"Education is nothing more or less, than learning to think" written in English and Chinese

Assessing critical thinking

Empirical data show there are large differences between critical thinking skills even in fairly homogeneous samples, like college students.  The same holds true for the spread of scores on vital critical thinking dispositional attributes, like truth-seeking. 

Educators can gather objective data online using powerful assessment tools like the CCTST, BCTST, HSRT, and CCTDI.   In addition, they can promote critical thinking by incorporating developmental tools such as the Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric.

Learning critical thinking and decision-making

To understand how to teach for critical thinking, we begin by asking how humans learn and how we make decisions in natural contexts. 

The highly formal, top-down, methods of teaching brittle content do not work as methods of teaching for critical thinking.  Critical thinking is developed bottom-up, for reflection on realistic examples and authentic problems. 

Teachers who describe accurately their own thinking process, talking about how they analyze, interpret, explain, and evaluate reflectively, are able to model the positive habits of mind as they demonstrate the skills.  

Teaching critical thinking

To teach for critical thinking, no matter what the subject matter is or the age of the students, effective instructors can be found doing these five things:

  • Creating space during class time for dialogue – demonstrating and eliciting critical thinking;
  • Connecting classroom content to real problems and authentic examples that demand reflective judgment;
  • Making assignments that require critical thinking to earn a high grade.  Using prompts like “analyze, explain, evaluate, interpret, and infer likely outcomes;”
  • Inviting students to evaluate one another’s presentations with the Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric;
  • Giving important examinations which rely more on applying critical thinking and less on memorizing content.

Critical thinking is an active process.  To teach for critical thinking, we must engage students in using critical thinking!

Critical thinking definition from the APA Delphi Consensus Definition


Defining critical thinking

Having shared assessment data and identified effective teaching strategies, the story comes full circle with the Expert Consensus Definition of Critical Thinking which grounds all of our assessment instruments:

Critical thinking is the process of purposeful reflective judgment which manifests itself in reasoned consideration of evidence, context, methods, standards, and conceptualizations in order to decide what to believe or what to do.

Insight Assessment conference participants standing under an arch at the Beijing Foreign Studies Universities

Ariel Yeung and Peter Facione at the 2019 Beijing Critical Thinking Conference

Beijing Conference

Advancing Thinking Worldwide. Peter Facione, PhD is the Founder and Senior Researcher at Insight Assessment, the provider of critical thinking assessments and development programs for more than 30 years.

As a principal at Measured Reasons LLC, a consulting firm supporting excellence in strategic thinking and leadership decision-making, he leads workshops, executive coaching sessions and speaks at conferences and conventions.  

Facione recently spoke at the the 9th Annual Critical Thinking and Innovative Education Conference. Hosted by the Beijing Foreign Studies University, the conference was attended by educators from K-12, graduate and post graduate institutions. During the July 23-24, 2019, conference, there was enthusiastic consensus in the importance of critical thinking. Facione particularly enjoyed the discussions about the role of educators in teaching students how to improve their critical thinking skills.

illuminating lightbulb

Are your employees making good decisions?

Strong critical thinking ability is one of the most needed job skills. 

Business success is based on identifying and supporting people who have the ability to think forward, problem-solve and make good decisions.

Employees with poor thinking skills will not be able to become contributing members of your team. Companies simply cannot afford the costs of employees who lack strong problem-solving and decision-making ability.

10 reasons why business should assess employee thinking skills:

  1. Increase productivity: Assessing thinking is important because strong thinking skills are the most essential job qualification. If employees can’t think well, they won’t be productive.
  2. Reduce costs: Assessing thinking is cheaper than the cost of bad hires or employees who make poor decisions.  Poor thinking costs business money and opportunities for growth.
  3. Prescreen candidates: Assessing thinking helps you identify and build the strongest talent pool.  Save interview time and costs by screening candidates for strength of thinking.
  4. Improve performance: Assessing thinking improves performance and efficiency. Business benefits when good analytical thinking is applied to problem solving and planning.
  5. Target training: Assessing thinking makes strategic professional development possible. Objective assessment data can be used to target identified strengths and weaknesses of individuals, teams and departments.
  6. HR metrics: Assessing thinking provides objective, validated metrics for improvement initiatives.  Employee retention, engagement, training and continuous improvement programs benefit from relevant, reliable data
  7. Performance evaluation: Assessing thinking provides valuable input for employee performance reviews. Gain the ability to recognize employee potential by incorporating objective thinking metrics into the review process.
  8. Competitive edge: Assessing thinking gives you a competitive advantage over other companies who don’t prioritize good thinking. Out-thinking the competition is vital; innovation depends upon strong thinking.
  9. Company Commitment: Assessing thinking demonstrates a corporate commitment to excellent decision-making. Reinforce the advantages of promoting a positive thinking culture at work.  Identify and recognize employees who have winning business mindsets.
  10. Actionable metrics: Assessing thinking with high quality test instruments ensures you get the highest quality actionable individual and group data. Data can be used to develop good thinking throughout your organization.

To sum it up: if you want to grow and maximize competitiveness, you need high quality assessment data analyzing the key problem-solving and decision-making skills of your employees.

Banner reading Competitive Gain over brightly upward colored arrows

To gain the competitive advantage of critical thinking

INSIGHT assesses the critical thinking skills that pay off in employee growth throughout your organization.

Insight Assessment specializes in objective, user-friendly, validated measurements of critical thinking skills and mindset attributes.  Comprehensive INSIGHT Business Professional individual reports include metrics on test taker strengths and weaknesses in the 15 essential elements of thinking skills and mindset. Individual and group reports are used worldwide for hiring, talent development, training and program evaluation. Flexible test administration is available 24/7.

Strong thinkers deliver results.    Contact us. We're ready to demonstrate how easy it is to get the benefits of assessing thinking with INSIGHT.

Why should I choose Insight Assessment solutions?

Follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT, for resources and further discussion of the measurement of thinking skills and mindset.

Smiling young man shakes hands at the end of an interview

Your time is too valuable to interview candidates who lack needed skills

Thriving business must build thinking workplaces that keep pace with the needs of innovation and changing customer demands. They do this by hiring employees with strong critical thinking mindset and decision-making skills.

Often, it’s up to the interviewer to elicit and analyze information about the candidate’s critical thinking abilities.  This creates a need to embed some aspect of a critical thinking assessment into the interview process. They have to understand how the candidate approaches engaging important issues and problems with their critical thinking skills.

The one key interview question to elicit candidate’s thinking skills:

“Would you please explain how you use critical thinking in relevant situations?” 

Smart interviewers look for candidates who can answer this question. But the actual interview prompt has several formats. The wording depends on the decision responsibility level of the position.

For positions in senior leadership and c-suite who have ultimate decision responsibility:

“We would like you to talk a bit about your problem-solving style and strategies. Use some examples you can share from your previous positions.”

For positions in mid-level management who have strong decision responsibility:

"Would you share a recent work experience when you made a key decision or resolved an important problem?  Tell us how you reasoned it through.”

For positions in staff or support that require reliable problem identification and adherence to established practices and protocols:

“We’d like you to talk about a recent situation at work when you needed to make a careful decision about what to do next.  What happened as a result?”

Woman in white shirt interviewing a nurse dressed in blue scrubs

How to analyze responses to critical thinking interview questions

Even with a well-designed question, challenges always arise when evaluating responses. The interviewer will need some practice in evaluating the candidate’s response. The key thing is to focus on the reasoning process.

We all know what a stellar performance will sound like, and what a non-thinking response is like. The problem arises when the candidate’s response is underdeveloped or ambiguous. 

After you ask the key interview question, the task of the interviewer is to listen for the description of how the candidate uses their critical thinking skills.

These following questions are provided as suggestions for those who want to embed some aspect of a critical thinking assessment into their company interview process.

What did the candidate say?

  • Did the candidate describe how they identify the important issue/problem (why they know it is a problem)? A strong critical thinker wants their listener to understand the problem.
  • Did the candidate talk about what they see as their possible options and how they determined the best option?
  • Did the candidate discuss the need to balance remaining uncertainty with the need to make a timely judgment? Really difficult problems usually involve time considerations.
  • Did the candidate mention key details that supported their judgments so they could be evaluated by others as well-reasoned? 
  • Did the candidate describe how the issue will be followed going forward (contingency planning)? Or whether there is an expectation of evaluating the actions taken?

Benefits of prescreening for critical thinking

Interviewing is an extremely complex process. Critical thinking is not the only factor being evaluated.

We strongly recommend obtaining a pre-interview assessment of the candidate’s critical thinking skills. Then use the insights provided by individual assessment profile to guide the candidate interview.

Before you interview, you should prescreen candidates for strength in five key skills:

  • Problem analysis
  • Evaluating alternatives
  • Precise contexts
  • Ambiguous contexts
  • Quantitative contexts

This prescreening data can guide your discussions of their approach to engaging important issues and problems with their critical thinking.

Reliable, objective critical thinking data for hiring decisions

Strong critical thinking skills are the basis of strong and potentially innovative solutions. Employees who can quickly and accurately identify significant problems and make well-reasoned decisions are essential.

INSIGHT offers proven assessment tools that provide validated data to be considered in your hiring decisions.  Strengths and weaknesses of skills and mindset attributes are analyzed and reported.  Objective metrics on 15 core components of strong thinking are included.  We specialize in online thinking skills and mindset assessments calibrated for educational, professional, business, health care, defense and legal uses. Our assessment and training tools are used worldwide.  They can be easily integrated into your prescreening and hiring processes.

Your time is too valuable to waste interviewing candidates who don’t have the skills to expand your business.

Call or contact us today.


Smiling young woman wearing a green sweater interviews an older woman job candidate

Human Resource departments must consider critical thinking mindset  

Strong critical thinking skills result in employees who can identify significant problems, make well-reasoned decisions, and develop innovative solutions. The challenge is to know which candidates have the ability and motivation to think well. Critical thinking skills, however, are only half of the equation.

Effective leaders and problem solvers bring key attributes like commitment, focus, tolerance and resourcefulness to every interaction where decision responsibility is involved. Critical thinking mindset matters.

Examples of why employee mindset matters

Employers want practiced learners who are independently motivated to seek innovative ways to improve processes.

Employers want developers who will ask tough questions, investigators who will probe deeply for a full explanation, and decision-makers who will strive to anticipate the consequences of the various options.  

Employers want people who can remain open to other people’s points of view, who are systematic and thorough, and who will not rest until important problems are resolved.

Employers need leaders who continue to evaluate an emerging situation, and who can adjust their directives as new key information emerges.

All of these attributes are examples of the critical thinking mindset.

Evaluating responses to thinking mindset interview questions

It is not easy to evaluate mindset in an interview.

Even for the skilled interviewer, questions that will display the candidate’s thinking mindset can be tricky.  We want to know if our candidate will approach decision-making honorably, open-mindedly, systematically.  Will they be motivated, honest, flexible, resourceful…etc. as they analyze problems, make decisions, and create work expectations for themselves and their peers? 

Interviewers must first provide question prompts that turn the interview to mindset attributes. They then must be able evaluate the meaning and impact of the responses.

Image of two hands. One hand holds a ball with Question written on it; the other holds a ball with Answer written on it.

Three examples of thinking mindset interview questions:

These questions are provided as suggestions for those who want to embed some aspect of a critical thinking assessment into their company interview process

Question 1 focuses on the mindset attribute: FORESIGHT

 “Would you describe yourself as someone who thinks ahead and anticipates consequences?”

  • This question has uncertain results.
  • Ideally our candidate will say “Yes” and go on to provide examples of how they have exhibited foresight.
  • But if the answer is a simple “Yes,” not much has been learned, because this preferred response is too easily anticipated.
  • If the answer to this question is “No,” many would be inclined to terminate the interview.


 “When you see a problem situation, are you likely to jump in and try to solve the problem?”

  • This is another Yes/No example with a more holistic focus on being willing to problem solve:
  • In this case, “Yes” is wildly better than “No,” because we are at least learning that the candidate sees themselves as a problem-solver.
  • But we will not know whether they will approach the problem systematically, and with the need to understand it well before taking action.

Question 3 focuses on whether a candidate is OPEN-MINDED, COLLABORATIVE or TOLERANT.

“What has been your experience in working with others who may not share your perspective on an important issue?”

This question is likely to draw out a lengthy response. The interviewer needs to be planful in terms of how the response will be evaluated for evidence of the desired attribute. For example, it may work to listen for one of these themes to classify the response:

  • I work hard to listen to what the other person is saying so we can work together (desired response);
  • People usually end up agreeing with me;
  • I don’t waste time trying to collaborate;
  • Other.

Goal of critical thinking mindset interview questions

The goal of these questions is to elicit (1) information about some of the candidate’s critical thinking mindset attributes, as well as (2) a description of their approach to engaging important issues and problems with their critical thinking skills.

Given all the goals of the interview process, a comprehensive evaluation of a candidates critical thinking skills and mindset cannot be achieved unless a series of interviews are envisioned. 

Benefits of prescreening candidate critical thinking

One extremely successful hiring practice is to obtain a pre-interview assessment of the candidate’s critical thinking skills and mindset.  The individual profile provides valuable objective data that can be used to guide the candidate interview. You should only interview, hire and promote the best thinkers in the pool.

Get the reliable, objective critical thinking data needed for hiring decisions

It is possible to identify employees with essential job-related thinking skills and the mindset to succeed in your company. You can make data driven decisions

INSIGHT offers proven assessment tools that provide validated data to be considered in your hiring decisions.  Strengths and weaknesses of skills and mindset attributes are analyzed and reported.  Objective metrics on 15 core components of strong thinking are included.  We offer online thinking skills and mindset assessments specifically calibrated for use in numerous industries. Our assessment and training tools are used worldwide.  They can be easily integrated into your hiring processes.        

 Contact us today. We can get you started right away.


Basket ball hoop against blue sky

Critical thinking: Are you born with it or can you learn it?

Leaders in business and the armed services frequently ask, is critical thinking something we are born with or is it something that can be taught and learned? That question reminds me of basketball. I'll tell why in a moment.

Children can develop critical thinking everyday

But first, you have to agree that we all can see some evidence in children, including preschoolers, of the development of critical thinking when they engage in their everyday problem solving and decision making. We notice that they are quick to learn which strategies work and which do not in various contexts and with various people. We adults may not approve of some of the strategies they use. And they learn that too.

There is no doubt that childhood is the time when critical thinking abilities and mental attributes begin to emerge. We see in children the ability to draw simple "if-then" conclusions, to evaluate choices, and to interpret what others are saying and feeling. We see attributes emerging, like persistence, inquisitiveness, and the development of a rudimentary sense that the child can figure things out if they just try a little harder - an attribute we call "confidence in reasoning."

Guiding children toward stronger critical thinking

Strong thinkers use these K-8 Critical Thinking Skills = to analyze, interpret, evaluate, explain, reflect, conclude

Critical thinking can take some big leaps forward in children if their parents and other adults guide them toward trying to solve their problems and to make decisions more thoughtfully. Teaching the how and why of things. Critical thinking can grow when children realize that they have to figure out how to cope for themselves with the everyday problems - skinned knees, boredom, bullies, and getting everyone to agree on the rules of whatever game they want to play. Some of those things may not seem like much to busy adults, but they are important to the kids -- learning how to navigate childhood social interactions with ever more success both demands and develops critical thinking. That's why doing everything for our kids is not an optimal parenting approach - we need to teach them to solve their own problems, which cannot be achieved if we take all their problems from them. Of course, formal schooling can help in the development of critical thinking if the teachers focus on how to analyze, to apply relevant criteria when making an evaluation, and how to explain our points of view using sound reasons and solid evidence.

Basket ball with child under the hoop

Suppressing critical thinking

K-8 Critical Thinking Habits of Mind: curious, creative, engaged organized, fair-minded and focused

All three influences - parents / playground / classroom -- can be negative as well as positive in some situations. Some adult interactions suppress critical thinking, for example when adults always refuse to give reasons or consistently belittle and stifle a child's "Why?" questions. Some playground experiences reinforce more reactive and socially unacceptable responses than thoughtful ones - for example if a child learns that some version of "getting angry and tipping over the checkerboard" is a way to consistently avoid losing. And some methods of formal instruction -- especially those that are based only on memorization, authority, and blind acceptance of dogma -- suppress the natural tendencies we humans have to want to know the why and how of things and not just the what.

The hoops analogy:

Basketball is a game I like to coach and to play. Most of us can improve our shooting if we practice. Our shooting will deteriorate when we lay off too long. Whatever our skill level, decisions about how to compete more effectively are better if we reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. This enables us to make tactical adjustments in real time, and is often more effective than simply running our standard offense and defense even if they are not working. That is why age and guile often overcome youth and strength in pick-up games worldwide.

Pushing the analogy - a good coach can get the best out of each player individually and out of the team as whole. Everyone can improve their hoops skills. Yes, as all of us who love the game know, 99.999% of us will never be a Magic Johnson, a Lebron James, or a Michael Jordan. Nature sets broad limits, an upper and a lower. What we do within those limits is the reflecting-teaching-learning-and-practice part.

That's true for hoops and for critical thinking.

Nature vs. nurture is a false dichotomy. It's both.

 Dr. Peter A  (Pete) Facione is a Senior Researcher at Insight Assessment and a principal at Measured Reasons LLC , a Los Angeles based research and consulting firm supporting excellence in strategic thinking and leadership decision making.

Nurse Smiling

An investment in increasing the quality of patient care

The effectiveness of nurses depends upon the power of their decision making skills and thinking mindset characteristics.

In hospitals, clinics and office settings, nurses must deal with complex data. They must have the capacity to best utilize it for patient health. When your employees are good thinkers, they make better decisions, fewer errors and are more productive. 

With challenging nurse-to-patient ratios, enhancing high quality thinking skills and motivation provides an excellent ROI.

Woman in white shirt interviewing a nurse dressed in blue scrubs

5 tactics to improve critical thinking skills and mindset 

Make the best use of your efforts and available budget. INSIGHT Health gives you the optics to:

1.  Select current talent with growth potential and plan how to develop them.

2.  Set goals to develop strong thinkers.

  • They are able to make decisions in fast-paced medical environments with fewer mistakes. Strong thinkers strike the careful balance of being in alignment with operational policies and driving innovation.

3.  Assess the status quo, then set up training to attain your goals for better decision making.

  • Once you know your nursing staff’s thinking and reasoning skills, match your goals to training programs that focus on developing the core strengths.

4.  Develop the critical thinking mindset that motivates your top performing nurses.

  • Staff improvement is easier when you start with engaged thinkers.

5.  Evaluate the critical thinking skills and mindset that you have and hire for those you don’t.

square blue sign saying Hospital

Get the results you need to improve

Insight Assessment consultants have been conducting training and development workshops for decades to advance critical thinking ability for our clients in nursing. Look to INSIGHT solutions to provide the data you’ll need for your hiring, onboarding and continuous improvement plans.

Contact Insight Assessment today.

Dental students observing dentist working on patient

Training critical thinking skills is required for academic and clinical success

For decades, health science educators have been working hard to train critical thinking in students and practicing clinicians. Academic and clinical success are directly related to critical thinking skills and mindset.

The challenge is to admit students who will (1) succeed in their training and licensure examinations, and (2) transition well to jobs that immediately demand strength in problem analysis and decision making.

Many clinical specialty programs receive an extraordinary number of applicants for a limited number of training seats.  The effort to provide thinking clinicians starts at the time of admission. Educating physical therapists, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, and all other clinical specialists requires years of course work as well as extensive clinical practice hours.

The power of critical thinking assessment data

Researchers have been studying the power of critical thinking scores at admission to predict clinical ratings, degree completion and licensure rates.  

Studies in Dentistry, Family Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Audiology, Midwifery, Psychology, Dental Hygiene and others have demonstrated the added value of including a critical thinking assessment as a part of the admission protocol.  Additional investigations are underway for Physician Assistants, Respiratory Therapists, Dieticians, and other specialties. See Admissions, Retention and Licensure for short descriptions of these peer-reviewed, independent research studies using HSRT, CCTST and  CCTDI.

Nursing student in front of nursing simulation mannequin

Evaluating effectiveness of critical thinking training techniques

Specific training techniques have been closely studied for their effectiveness in building critical thinking skills and a thinking mindset.

Significant gains in critical thinking have been related to problem-based learning strategies, the use of patient simulators, cased-based seminars, concept-mapping strategies, experiential learning programs, peer questioning techniques, and reflective writing exercises. Citations and summaries of these investigations can be found on this Training Techniques link.

Comparing admissions and exit scores over time

Following student cohorts over time and collecting a second or third measure of critical thinking skills and mindset at program completion has informed many educational researchers about

  • which particular skills and mindset attributes are commonly seen in admissions cohorts,
  • which skills and mindset attributes are improved in relation to particular training techniques,
  • which skills require attention in curriculum building.

Exit scores provide a baseline comparison when new curriculum is introduced.

Improving thinking requires explicit instruction

One claim is no longer in question: assuring and improving students' critical thinking skills cannot be a matter of implicit expectation.

This is the conclusion Philip Abrami and colleagues who conducted of a meta-study examining 117 published studies comprising 20,698 participants, all documenting the importance of explicitly training critical thinking. The cases improve, that the controls either don’t show improved skills or they improve less. They advise that educators must also make learning objectives clear to students and provide pre-service and in-service training for educators to help them become increasing effective as trainers of critical thinking.

If you would like to read more about these studies, click on the links above, and also on this collection of study summaries on Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Smiling nurse graduate wearing stethoscope

Critical thinking as predictive indicator

International collaborations to create valid and reliable language translations of Insight Assessment test instruments now support a global research effort. Peer-reviewed studies from Hong Kong, Australia, Peoples Republic of China, Ireland, Canada, UAE, Turkey, Australia, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Japan, The Netherlands, Malaysia, USA and many other areas have demonstrated the predictive power of critical thinking skills scores as indicators of an accomplished health science student and practicing clinician.

In summary, Dr. John Eigenauer, reminds us that measurable gains in critical thinking are obtainable by implementing proven methods and best practices, which always include explicit instruction in critical thinking.

Our thanks to all of you educators and scientists who are who are providing evidence of the improvement of health science education internationally through the use of our critical thinking assessments and training programs.

Contact us today to learn how health science programs are using Insight Assessment powerful, nationally benchmarked assessment tools as part of their undergraduate and graduate student admissions process.

A guest post by Peter A Facione, Measured Reasons LLC.- updated March 6, 2019

How Can We Develop Critical Thinking in Our Organizations?

This is a question I hear a lot from business leaders, military personnel, and educators.  The good news: we know how to improve critical thinking.  And, we can measure the gains.

To learn what works, Philip Abrami and colleagues reviewed 341 publications documenting experimental and quasi-experimental studies using standardized measures of critical thinking. 

If you want to see the research yourself, check out “Strategies for Teaching Students to Think Critically: A Meta-Analysis,” Abrami, P. et. al, Review of Educational Research, June 2015, Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 275–314.

Row of books with spine down on the shelf

What are the Best Approaches for Teaching Critical Thinking? 

“[That] there are effective strategies for teaching critical thinking at all educational levels and across all disciplinary areas.  Notably, the opportunity for dialogue, exposure to authentic or situated problems and examples, and mentoring had positive effects on critical thinking skills.” 

This means that the organization itself, including the trainers, mid-level managers, and top-level leaders, need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  The organizational culture must encourage the kinds of “why” questions that require managers, employees, and leaders to explain their reasons and state their evidence, not spout rote answers.  

The magic here is in the doing. 

An organization does not need to spend millions and millions of dollars on glitzy technology. The organization needs, instead, to infuse some critical thinking into account in hiring, it needs to train its people to use some easily applied critical thinking development techniques in its educational programs and, just as important, it needs to infuse thoughtful critical thinking questions and practices into its deliberative processes. 

Yes, critical thinking is reflective.  Yes, it takes time for an individual or a group to think well about a problem or a decision.  Shooting from the hip is not critical thinking.  Going with our gut is not critical thinking.  Bluff and bluster are not critical thinking strategies. 

Knowledge, Experience and Critical Thinking

For many years I worked with combat veteran senior enlisted Special Ops E9 personnel.  We quickly recognized the important difference between “excellent training to react instinctively in a fire fight” and “critical thinking for when there was time to problem-solve and plan.” Both are vital. Repeat, both.

Critical thinking cannot substitute for knowledge.  It cannot substitute for the expertise developed by years of thoughtful practice. To diagnose situations well and to figure out what course of action is best, experts at the top of their game use all three:  knowledge, thoughtful practice, and, critical thinking.   

To learn more download “Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts.”

The go to organization for tools to develop and to assess critical thinking is Insight Assessment .

Peter Facione, Ph.D. Founder of Insight Assessment

Peter A. Facione, Ph.D.has led the quest to demonstrate empirically that a consensus understanding of critical thinking could be attained. And, that the core cognitive skills and centrally important dispositional habits of mind of critical thinking could be learned, taught, and assessed.  Dr. Peter A  (Pete) Facione is a Senior Researcher at Insight Assessment and  a principal at Measured Reasons LLC , a Los Angeles based research and consulting firm supporting excellence in strategic thinking and leadership decision making.

Images from Insight Assessment Group Reports

Strong critical thinking predicts academic and professional success

Insight Assessment critical thinking test instruments are used globally to objectively identify the student applicants who have the strongest critical thinking skills and the desire to apply those skills.  Many clients use this reliable and nationally benchmarked assessment data as an essential component in their admissions process.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about the value of incorporating the assessment of critical thinking in the admissions.

Why consider candidate critical thinking as part of the admissions process?

Whatever else is being considered, admitting people who are both willing and able to think is an important element in developing and sustaining a high-quality admission process.

If candidates do not demonstrate sufficient reasoning skills strength or the positive internal motivation and drive to make a success of themselves, then they are much less likely to succeed academically.  A high-quality admissions process which consistently yields a strong and successful cadre of new students is vitally important when programs are over-subscribed.

Admissions decisions are scrutinized when retention rates and graduation rates are being carefully tracked, when the consequences of admitting underprepared applicants can have a negative impact on other students, on the morale of the faculty and staff, or on the overall reputation of the program.  Critical thinking admissions data can be used to document the overall success of the program as well as specific applicants. Multitask with the right admissions tools

What metrics are the most important for admissions?

Different programs will find different metrics of value, but in general, on the skills dimensions the OVERALL reasoning skills score is an excellent marker of the applicant’s strength. To score well overall, the applicant must excel in the sustained, focused and integrated application of the core thinking skills, including analysis, interpretation, inference, evaluation, explanation, induction and deduction.

The OVERALL score is the best predictor of the capacity for success in educational or workplace settings which demand reasoned decision making and thoughtful problem solving.  Looking at specific skill metrics makes sense for programs that have specialized academic learning demands.  For example, STEM programs and programs that demand strengths in quantitative reasoning will probably focus on the Numeracy Score along with the OVERALL score.

The mindset metrics that are most interesting for transfer student and non-traditional or returning adult admissions purposes include the Motivation to Learn, the Drive to Succeed, and Resilience as assessed on the College Success Mindset.  For graduate professional schools using the CCTDI, metrics like Truth-Seeking, Foresight, and Maturity of Judgment are considered important. 

What score is the most useful – the numerical score, the qualitative evaluation, or the percentile?

Insight Assessment test instruments report at least two scores for every metric:  numerical and qualitative. Highly competitive programs may wish to establish a numerical cut score as a threshold for consideration for admissions.  Other programs may wish to identify a qualitative level, e.g. “strong” or “positive” which all admitted students should have achieved.  Clients are able to decide which score option is most relevant to their program goals.

Percentile scores are associated only with the OVERALL skills score.  Percentiles are benchmark comparisons. The client organization determines which comparison group percentiles to be associated with the OVERALL score.  For instance, a professional school of nursing may select the Health Sciences Reasoning Test as its admissions test.  The school can decide whether it wants to use graduate student percentiles, four-year undergraduate student percentiles, or two-year associate degree level student percentiles. That decision depends on the level of the program for which applicants are being evaluated.  Percentiles, Norms and Comparison Groups

See specific  assessments for the metrics they measure and the comparison percentiles that are available

Can a program use its admission data for other purposes?

Yes, absolutely.  Admissions data can be thought of as pretest data. As such, those data can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of curricular innovations or to describe the entering class or cohort of students to interested stakeholders.   Data is also frequently used in cross-sectional or longitudinal studies of program effectiveness or in accreditation self-study reports.  Why link assessment, admissions and accreditation

Since the data can be downloaded in an Excel spreadsheet, it is relatively easy to integrate information about the critical thinking skills and learning mindset attributes of large groups of students with other institutional data or uploaded into research quality software programs such as SPSS or Minitab.

What can be included in the custom demographic questions?

The Insight Assessment online testing system enables clients to add as many as ten of their own custom demographic questions .  The responses to those questions are included in the downloadable Excel spreadsheet available at any time to the program’s test administrator.

Some undergraduate student admissions clients ask about prior work experience, some inquire about the applicant’s age, or which languages the applicant speaks.  At the graduate level some clients include questions about the applicant’s undergraduate major, which sub-specialty the applicant may be interested in pursuing, or whether the applicant intends to enroll full time or part time. 

Our experienced staff can assist with the wording of demographic questions, but the questions themselves depend on the information that the client believes to be relevant for purposes of informing itself about its applicants individually or as a group.  Two formats are available – open text or pull-down menu.  The pull-down menu format is by far the most widely used because it enables easily quantifying the proportionate number who select each response. 

How are the individual and the group reports used in admissions?

The individual report details an applicant’s scores on each reasoning skill or each mindset attribute assessed. Thus, the individual report gives the best overall picture of that applicant’s different strengths or areas that may need further development. Because the individual report focuses on only one applicant, it can be a useful document for individualized conversations with the applicant or advisor meetings with the newly admitted student.

The group report includes tables and charts that give useful information about the entire admissions pool, or about sub-sets of that pool.  Because the data can be aggregated or disaggregated by any of the demographic factors, group reports can be generated in a matter of minutes by programs interested in comparing sub-groups of applicants.  Tables of descriptive statistics and colorful bar charts give an accurate and complete picture of how a group of applicants performed on each metric.   Group reports covering multiple applicant cohorts supply information that can reveal multi-year trends in the quality of the applicant pool.

Contact us today to discuss how critical thinking data can support your admissions program.

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