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Question Asking skills with photo of red triangles with question mark on them

Success in leadership positions requires strong decision-making skills.

Asking clear and relevant questions is an essential leadership skill because effective decision-making depends on the ability to get optimal answers to strategic questions.

Decision-makers must be able to make judgements based on conflicting or incomplete data involving internal or external challenges. Decision making quality in unfamiliar and uncertain problem situations depends on getting the information needed for optimal solutions.  

Building questioning skills is an important part of training thinking skills.

Crucial question asking skills can and must be improved through practice.

The Insight Assessment complimentary resource, Question Asking Skills:  A Leadership Training Tool  provides a list of focused questions trainers can use to stimulate the skills needed to acquire important information, identify unspoken assumptions, clarify issues and explore options.  

As trainees integrate this question asking strategy into their thinking processes, they will be able to improve core thinking and decision making skills. This list includes questions for each of these components of decision making:

  • Interpretation
  • Analysis
  • Inference
  • Evaluation
  • Explanation
  • Self-Regulation

Talent development training benefits by a practical focus on strengthening the quality of decision-making.

Trainers: Download Question Asking Skills: A Leadership Training Tool so that you can apply this technique to strengthen the training strategies you currently use to improve thinking skills and mindset in your trainee and student groups.

Assessment: Insight Assessment offers a comprehensive array of objective, validated  business thinking assessment tools that report individual and group diagnostics of overall strengths and weakness that can be used to guide the development of educational efforts to address the needs of personnel. Comprehensive personal reports provide insights for to individual trainees, highlighting reasoning strengths and identifying areas for improvement.

Improving employee decision-making skills: The self-paced online modules of INSIGHT Development Program target improving  core thinking skills and mindset attributes that are required for effective leadership and workplace success. Also included are INSIGHT assessments which  provide objective measurements of employee strengths and weaknesses in 15 key cognitive skills and personal mindset attributes .  The cost effective, validated program can be integrated into your training programs or can be implemented as new initiative. The flexible structure lets employees work independently, controlling time on task, pace and progress. 

If you are interested in additional strategies for teaching and training reasoning skills, check out the many complimentary Teaching and Training Resources offered by Insight Assessment including:

Explore our website for practical training resources and our blog, Thinking INSIGHT , for further discussion of the measurement of thinking skills and mindset.

Contact us to discuss your development program goals and needs.

Histogram showing CCTST Critical Thinking Skills Overall Strong and Weak Score Distribution

SACS QEPs should focus on competencies that can bring lifelong value to students and energize a campus community.

Developing strong critical thinking in students is a challenging goal widely embraced by education stakeholders at every level, including employers, policy makers and faculty.  Here are some suggestions from the Insight Assessment researchers for addressing SACS Comprehensive Standard 3.5.1 by creating a College-Level General Education Critical Thinking Competency. 

Key considerations when creating a QEP competency: 

  • Identify a goal that has clear value: Whether students are training for careers in science, the arts, humanities, or training into one of the professions, they must be adept at problem identification and analysis and have the skills and attributes to make well justified decisions.
  • Get to the heart of the issue: Start with a clear definition of the goal ( APA Delphi Consensus definition of Critical Thinking , endorsed by the Penn State University survey of educators, government agencies and businesses).
  • Establish collaborative effort: Invite all members of the campus community to describe how they currently contribute to achieving this learning goal in their students. 
  • Identify a focus for enhancement that will fit to your campus culture: Build on and advance through dedicated support one or more of the current efforts to build critical thinking OR develop a new focus for critical thinking based on well-established approaches to practice critical thinking in established courses, campus life projects, internships, community action, or other educational structures. 
  • Fit the measurement plan to your campus resource base: Whether yours is a residential or online college or university, assessment of your students’ critical thinking can be accomplished efficiently and cost effectively with valid and reliable measures designed for your student group .
  • Specify realistic goals : Whether you plan to study one small group of students as they move through your program or instead plan to move your graduating groups to higher performance against a national norm benchmark, reachable incremental goals will be the expected outcome of your campus focus on critical thinking.
  • Bring timely feedback on assessment results to your campus: Maintaining an energized effort toward the enhancement plan requires the delivery of easily interpretable results to all those involved in the effort.  Evidence of your progress can be available to you within minutes of completing your testing when your assessment plan includes the online administration of Insight Assessment test instruments Tests. 

To see a sample SAC QEP Critical Thinking Competencies for General Education prepared by Insight Assessment.

Critical Thinking:  A Measurable Outcome for SACS QEPs

Not part of SACS?  Insight Assessment provides support for MSCHE , NEASC-CIHE , NWCCU , HLC , SACS and WASC conference institutions.

Make sure your critical thinking Quality Enhancement Plan initiative ensures integrity and accuracy in data gathering and results reporting. 

All Insight Assessment test instruments come with assured  validity and reliability . Our  flexible test administration options allows you to tailor your assessment design to the needs of your campus and students. 

Contact us to discuss your assessment plan today.

 

Insight Assessment critical thinking tests available in Arabic, Chinese-Simplified, Chinese-Traditional, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish & Vietnamese translations

Thinking assessments should be in the test taker’s one’s native language. We believe in testing thinking—not testing English as a second language (ESL) skills. We live in a global multi-lingual world.  Ideas, curriculum, schools and businesses cross national and language boundaries. 

You should expect your thinking assessments to support the language needs of your test takers. Language must be a consideration when assigning a critical thinking test.  Students or workers may not be able to demonstrate their true reasoning skills if their language comprehension is inadequate to interpret the question and answer choices and to understand the question being asked.

Insight Assessment has crafted our multilingual assessments to minimize the possibility that the measure of an individual’s thinking skills is affected by language ability and comprehension.  Insight Assessment clients want the most accurate thinking skills and dispositions assessment; that’s why they choose the high quality, culturally appropriate translations of our comprehensive range of assessments .

Before you choose an assessment or a translation consider:

  • Are you measuring their thinking skills? Or are you measuring their English reading skills? Many clients use culturally appropriate translations of our thinking assessments to minimize the English as a second language (ESL) impact when assessing diverse groups of students.  These individuals are taking the same test (in different languages); therefore group results can still be used to compare and identify the strongest thinkers and teams.
  • Do all your test takers understand the assessment process? Other clients prefer to assess an individual’s performance in an English speaking workplace or learning environment.  They choose to use the English language version of the assessment.  Our flexible online testing interface allows for the use of combinations of languages for test, instructions and the login process.
  • Who needs the comprehensive data reported for each test taker and group?  Test-taker group and individual reports can be delivered in English or the appropriate language to maximize the impact of the results. Test taker results can be grouped as a whole or by the language in which the test was presented to the test taker.  Contact us to discuss your specific needs.
  • Who ensures the quality of the translations? Our clients need consistent metrics that permit the reliable comparison of group results when a test has been taken in multiple languages. Insight Assessment collaborates with international scholars who are native language speakers; rigorous iterative translation procedures are used to assure validity, reliability and cultural competence is achieved in the authorized translations. Our multicultural capabilities go beyond the basic language and include many country-specific variants, date formatting, number formatting, image selection, symbol selection and color selection. Translations in more than 20 languages are used in over 60 countries.

Insight Assessment is committed to excellence and precision of thinking. Contact us to discuss how our language flexibility will strengthen your multicultural assessment program.

For more information about translations, assessments and our multilingual interface see: The International Measurement of Thinking

Black sphere with green binary code in front of black screen with green numbers displayed

Assessment results are only as good as the data you get and use. It's often easier to accumulate data than it is to be able to use it effectively. Don’t implement a critical thinking assessment program without making sure the individual and/or group data delivered will be objective high impact and relevant.  When you make your decision, consider these essential criteria:

  • Choose the right test: When thinking about measuring critical thinking, the first decision is what you need to assess: strength in thinking skills, the reasoning mindsets that motivate an individual to apply thinking skills, or both.   Engaging problems and making decisions using critical thinking involves both skills and habits of mind. For a complete assessment of a test taker's critical thinking, Insight Assessment recommends that both skills and mindset be measured.
    • The most informative assessments provide objective measurements of strengths and weaknesses on core component thinking skills or attributes in addition to an overall score.
  • Know your test takers: Accurate measurement of critical thinking skills requires that the test be calibrated to fit the likely skill range of the planned test taker group. Effective assessments engage and challenge test takers with scenarios and situations relevant to their grade level or professional interests in a variety of formats.
    • To perform well on a critical thinking test, the test taker must be able to read the question scenario and the answer choices, and to understand the question being asked. Some aspects of this process involve critical thinking skills of interpretation and analysis.  It is important that reading issues are not significant barriers for the test taker.
    • Language is also a consideration when assigning a critical thinking test.  Students or workers who are using other than their native language may have difficulty demonstrating their true critical thinking skill if their language comprehension is inadequate to understand the question being asked.
  • Data needs context: The relevance of asessment data is maximized when you are able to relate the scores of your individual test-takers or entire group to appropriate comparison groups. Norm referenced scoring provides powerful metrics to evaluate the relative strength of the performance of test takers.  Test scores without comparison percentiles are essentially one dimensional; while you are able to compare individual test scores to other members of your group, you are not able to determine the relative strength of the group in comparison to others in the population. 
    • Reviewers, such as accrediting bodies, recognize the benefits of external benchmarking and often require this evidence as an indicator of organizational effectiveness or as documentation for self-studies          
  • Optimize data accessibility: Data needs to be available in formats suitable for your purposes.  Both individual and group reports should provide relevant data that can be analyzed to provide benefits at the individual test taker level or at program level. 
    • Avoid dilution of key indicators. Be sure you are collecting data in a targeted way by defining questions or groupings that allow you to compile data to solve challenges. Look for a test system that permits aggregation and re-aggregation of test taker scores to extract maximum insights.  

Contact us today. Our assessment specialists will help you you capture high impact and relevant critical thinking data using our validated test instruments , flexible online administration and superior reporting system.   

For more about how to choose the right assessment

For more more about Insight Assessment services

Hiring, training and promoting employees without objective data is a big gamble.  It can be very costly to make employee decisions based on time or subjective opinions. 

Why rely on guesswork?

There are objective tools which identify the people with stronger decision-making and problem-solving skills as well as the mindset and work ethic to apply them. Validated metrics are the best way to optimize the performance of employees, teams and departments. 

Text stating Measure Twice, Hire Once over image of a yellow and a white measuring tape

Practical uses of individual and group thinking data

1. Use pre-employment screening data to evaluate candidate skills

Your time is too valuable to waste interviewing candidates who lack the skills to expand your business.  The decision-making abilities of your job applicants can and should be evaluated.

Do it right, the first time. That old saying for construction, "measure twice, cut once," also applies to recruitment.  Measure twice--critical thinking skills AND the mindset to apply those skills--hire only once.

Measuring critical thinking skills and mindset as part of hiring will 1) provide assurance that the newest member of your working team will have the ability to interpret current practices and policies along with accurately apply protocols; 2) evaluate their effectiveness within their scope of work and the attributes that support their work responsibilities.

Objective reports analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of candidates help HR distinguish candidates with the most potential for success .

2.  Objective metrics support Equal Opportunity Hiring 

Employers need to provide job candidates a level playing field.  Hiring decisions are supposed to be based solely on candidate skills, knowledge and potential. Screening academic degrees and letters of reference is not always dependable.

Objective data documenting a candidate’s strength in core reasoning skills, decision-making and work ethic meets this need. Individual assessment metrics reliably differentiate individual competencies in problem solving and decision making needed in key positions.

Blind hiring is possible when scientifically based assessment data allows comparison of candidate strengths.

3. Support onboarding programs for new employees   

Orienting new employees to work responsibilities is a necessity. It is a strain on limited resources when new hires subsequently prove unable to perform the work.

Onboarding is more effective when backed up with metrics describing individual and/or group skill levels. Metrics analyzing the strengths and weaknesses in new hire cognitive abilities, motivation and work ethic provide valuable insights into employee potential.

One of the most important factors in new hire success is the employee’s ability to learn new skills, new responsibilities and a new culture.  Strong thinkers make fewer mistakes, learn faster, understand the importance of policies and drive innovation.   A focus on strengthening strong thinking skills boosts new hire adaptability and motivation.

young woman looking across table at two people

4. Target training programs to strengthen the effectiveness of employee teams

It’s important to know if employees can benefit from planned employee development programs.

Weak critical thinking skills and mindset is the greatest cause of lost opportunity. Errors in judgment result in serious liability costs. Together these two factors make the difference between a profitable business and one that fails.

Objective data from critical thinking assessments can be used to identify areas of and/or strength and weakness. This allows your training programs to be proactively focused on improving the skills needed by the team. 

Every trainee and working professional can improve the quality of their thinking skills. Improvements in thinking skills and thinking mindset can be achieved by employees at every stage of their career. Preparing employees to think better positions them for the future needs and growth of your company.

5. Build leadership development programs

Well made decisions enrich the quality of the work environment for individuals, groups, and organizations. Vision and leadership begins at the top with managers who are able to determine strategic direction. They can guide their teams to analyze and respond to workplace opportunities that will move the organization forward. Leadership teams that reliably make better decisions is a competitive advantage.  The result is a confident and capable executive team and a business culture that resonates with strong values and performance.

Individual reports analyzing decision skills and leadership mindset assist in the identification of future leaders. Talent development programs can then target essential leadership mindset attributes and the cognitive skills required for high stakes decision-making. 

6. Demonstrate the Quality of Training Programs 

The value of your investment in training programs should not be taken for granted. Group assessment metrics can be used to diagnose the need for training.  It can also be used to objectively evaluate the success of your employee development programs.

Data permits scaffolding employee development programs to improve their effectiveness.  Studies of  learning in workplace development programs have demonstrated the need for a match between the training level and the worker. If training is too challenging, some candidates will hide their failures until errors become apparent. Use entry-level assessments to gauge readiness to enter internships or a workplace setting.

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Get the data needed for employee development

The INSIGHT series offers a world-class array of instruments. Each provides accurate reporting and the data you need to identify talent as well as weak links in your organization. INSIGHT enables you to measure the overall reasoning and problem-solving skills of your professionals, staff level personnel, and support personnel.

Engaging problems and making decisions using critical thinking involves both skills and mental disciplines. For a complete assessment of a test taker's critical thinking, it is recommended that both skills and mindset be measured. Each INSIGHT assessment measures reasoning skills and mindset.

Individual and group reports provide quantitative metrics on 5 critical thinking skills and 10 essential professional mindset attributes.

INSIGHT Development Program includes a critical thinking assessment and training modules. This proven, cost-effective, self-paced program for individuals (and teams) integrates validated metrics to provide an opportunity for employees to focus on self-improvement in the  skills valued by employers. Modules focus on specific skills or mindset attributes that are necessary for high stakes decision-making in the business world. INSIGHT Development Program can be integrated into your onboarding training processes or implemented as professional development

Our clients share a common goal: to strengthen the effectiveness of their employee teams. They invest in the training and assessment of critical thinking because it pays off every day in better decisions.

Contact us to see sample reports and to choose the INSIGHT solution calibrated for your assessment needs.

Don’t settle for less. Get proven, objective data to move your company forward.

Report graphic conparing 4 year undergraduate performance on the CCTST critical thinking assessment to comparable a sample of students nationwide

Learn how to get the most value out of the metrics included in Insight Assessment critical thinking group reports and analytics. In this 8 minute video Dr. Peter Facione shows how data is presented and interprets the standard deviation, mean score, median score, percentile scores and descriptive scores that are reported with the individual and aggregated group scores for each metric on a test. The example uses aggregated data from over 2500 scores on the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) . The graphics, statistical tables, spreadsheets and individual reports shown are produced by Insight Assessment's client-facing online score reporting system.

TO SEE THE INSIGHT ASSESSMENT GROUP REPORT VIDEO

Each Insight Assessment test instrument measures a comprehensive array of metrics that are valid and reliable indicators of strength in critical thinking skill and, in some cases, indicators of those at risk for poor performance in academic programs or workplace situations. These scale scores indicate areas of strength and areas where improvement is needed.  

Insight Assessment individual and group reports provide easy to read, easy to use objective metrics on key aspects of thinking. Reports of the scores of individuals are presented in spreadsheets showing all scores and demographic responses for each individual in a group, and as PDF files showing the scale scores for a given individual. Aggregated reports of the scores of groups are presented as PDF files which include statistical tables and bar charts for each scale on the assessment instrument. The user manuals for each test instrument provide a step by step guide to the interpretation of the scores reported. Clients who administer online assessments can opt to give each test-taker an individual report of their scores on each key component of thinking skills or reasoning mindset. 

Insight Assessment validated critical thinking test instruments are currently being used by universities, hospitals, businesses, government and military agencies, researchers and K-12 schools in over sixty nations and twenty languages throughout the world. These clients depend on our high quality test-taker data and clear, concise analytics.

Contact us to see sample reports for the assessment that is calibrated for your assessment projects.

Follow our blog, Thinking Insight

Test-taker motivation

The best way to motivate people to give their best effort on a critical thinking assessment is to make the test relevant to them.

It’s a win/win situation when test takers are motivated to engage in the assessment process. People are most likely to take assessments seriously when they see the personal value of good performance.

Communication with test-takers is essential

  • Set the stage. We all need to make decisions and solve problems every day. Personal success is based on the strength of individual critical thinking skills and personal mindset attributes. A thinking test measures practical real world skills.  Explain that their scores on a good critical thinking test depend on the quality of the skills they use to judge what to believe or what to do. If they don’t choose to think about the questions, they won’t do well.  Emphasize that the critical thinking assessment is not a test of knowledge that can be studied for, so test-takers shouldn’t stress about cramming for it.
  • Make it relevant.  Many people sustain a stronger effort on the assessment when the result is of interest to them or carries some significance to them. Tell test takers why they have been assigned the testing session and why it is important to make their best effort on the assessment. Explain the value of the testing process by letting them know how the information about the group as a whole will be used. Discuss how group and individual test scores will be used locally to evaluate curriculum, to assist in class placement, or as a diagnostic, outcomes assessment, etc.  Let them know the data gathered isn’t just going to be filed and forgotten.
  • Make it personal. Most educators believe that learning about personal performance is a motivating factor for future effort at self-improvement. Test takers are more engaged when they believe that they will benefit personally from the data collected by the assessment.  Depending on the reason for testing and the details of the educational program, employees and students can be informed of their results at appropriate times in their educational programs (during staff development or advising sessions when testing is done as a diagnostic, or at the completion of the programs when testing is a component of program evaluation or educational outcomes assessment.)
    • Insight Assessment clients are increasingly choosing the option of offering printable individual reports to students after the critical thinking testing is completed. Knowing that they will receive a realistic assessment personal report describing their strengths and weaknesses is appealing.  Students and other test takers value this objective personal critical thinking analysis. They find this analysis report extremely useful as they prepare for their future careers.
  • Choose a test that fits the test takers: All critical thinking tests are not alike: make sure the test speaks to the intended test takers. Effective tests engage and challenge test takers with scenarios and situations relevant to their interests in a variety of formats. Other considerations might include reading level, multi-language options, educational specialization and test delivery options.
  • Discuss results:  Follow up after the testing session.  Discuss the overall results. Let them know the time and effort they spent on the test was not wasted time. This is a good time to discuss the importance and interrelationships of the components of strong thinking. Achieving greater success with critical thinking requires practice.  Encourage them to regularly exercise good thinking.  
  • Unfortunately cookies and milk don’t really help.  But everyone appreciates the treat.

At Insight Assessment we are committed to providing the best validated thinking test instruments , the most accessible interfaces , the most relevant and actionable metrics so that our customers can achieve their assessment goals. 

Contact us to discuss your assessment projects.

Have you ever wondered if critical thinking skills can be assessed using a multiple choice test?   

We sat down with Dr. Peter Facione, founder of Insight Assessment and the author of numerous books and the research paper, Critical Thinking: What it is and Why it Counts. He answered this and other questions regarding academic, skill, and employment assessments. 

Hand holding a magnifying glass over the blue silhouette of a head on a blue background

What is the Difference between Validity and Reliability?

A measuring tool is valid if it measures what you intend it to measure.  For example, it is valid to measure a runner’s speed with a stopwatch, but not with a thermometer. 

A test is reliable if it consistently produces the same result, when used correctly. 

Does Validity and Reliability Apply to Measuring Critical Thinking?

A valid assessment of critical thinking skills would be one that targets the correct list of skills. 

This means that scores on the test will be responsive to the quality of the test-taker’s skills. In this instance, in analysis, inference, evaluation, interpretation, explanation and self-regulation as used in the process of judging what to believe or what to do.  

A reliable assessment of critical thinking will yield essentially the same results, if the same test takers retake the test without having done anything in the meanwhile to increase or to diminish their critical thinking skills.   

Standing woman looking at information on a tablet

Why Choose Insight Assessment Solutions

At Insight Assessment measurement is taken very seriously.

  • Our products measuring reasoning skills and mindset has been studied in a variety of populations and contexts over the past 30 years.
  • In each case, items/scales are piloted in target samples and validated in replicated studies (trainees, students, employees, military personnel, K-12 students, health professionals, and the general population) to assure the performance of the assessments in the intended population.

Peter Facione, PhD

Founder and Senior Researcher at Insight Assessment, the leading provider of critical thinking assessments and development programs; principal at Measured Reasons LLC, a Los Angeles based research and consulting firm supporting excellence in strategic thinking and leadership decision making.  Dr. Facione is the developer of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test family of measurement tools. His latest book is Think Critically, 2016, coauthored with Carol Ann Gittens, PhD.

Red pencil next to paper with boxes to check

Rubrics are rating forms designed to capture evidence of a particular quality or construct. The quality of the measure obtained from a rubric depends on how well it is designed. If the rubric is poorly designed, the rating is confounded or inaccurate. The quality of the rubric is also affected by the skill of the rater using the rubric.  When using a rubric it is necessary to train and calibrate the raters to use the rubric well to assure that ratings are accurate and consistent across all raters. Ratings using rubrics cannot be benchmarked against national comparison groups or compared to other ratings made by other rater groups.

Rubrics are a popular approach when the goal is largely developmental; rubrics are good pedagogical tools.   Issues arise, however, when rubrics are used for summative assessment.

To read more about measuring critical thinking with rubrics

Graphic lists Academic uses for Insight Assessment student critical thinking skills and mindset data including admissions, accreditation, documenting student learning, quality improvement initiatives & Institutional effectiveness

It is increasingly important for educational organizations to document achievement of students learning outcomes. Many of Insight Assessment’s customers use one or more of our test instruments to gather the detailed objective evidence required to refine curricular approaches and to demonstrate educational success for accrediting bodies. Effective assessment programs first identify goals for the attainment of critical thinking skills and habits of mind learning outcomes and then create a plan to assess their achievement.

To read more about documenting achievement of evidence based student learning outcomes .

Good thinking is in demand. Download Critical Thinking Insight from your app store today:

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