Insight Assessment Research on Critical Thinking

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The senior research associates of Insight Assessment have engaged in the empirical and conceptual analysis of reasoning for decades. They work at the level of theory and application. They have demonstrated through their work that critical thinking can be defined, learned, taught, and accurately measured. The essay, Critical Thinking: What It Is and Why It Counts, written for the general public, shares their latest findings. It shows how critical thinking skills and habits of mind relate to life, learning, and working.

In the late 1980’s the focus was on articulating a broadly acceptable and educationally meaningful definition of critical thinking. This work culminated in the APA Delphi expert consensus conceptualization of critical thinking. This consensus was later validated by independent research conducted at Pennsylvania State University with business leaders, policy makers and educators. This work grounds the measurement of critical thinking skills and dispositions and is the basis for the application of critical thinking research into all areas of life because reflective and purposeful judgment, that is critical thinking, is a pervasive and transcultural human phenomenon.

Insight Assessment researchers then extended their work to the measurement of critical thinking. Early versions of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test and the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory were first published in the 1990’s. These two instruments have been called the “Gold Standard” of Critical Thinking” measurement tools. Both are now used nationally and internationally. Soon afterward performance measures linking skills and dispositions were developed. These include the Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric and the Professional Judgment Rating Form. This work continues to be extended to an ever broader array of educational levels with the development of tools like the Test of Everyday Reasoning and the EDUCATE INSIGHT K-12 Series.

Our researchers then focused on the vital linkage between critical thinking and human problem solving and decision making in contexts of risk and uncertainty. At the theory level the book, Thinking and Reasoning in Human Decision Making, presents these ideas and also articulates a new methodology for mapping and analyzing human decisions. At the application level this work explains how building core critical thinking skills and nurturing positive critical thinking habits of mind strengthen leadership, professional judgment, clinical decision making and everyday problem solving for groups and for individuals.

The team has developed new measurement tools which assess critical thinking as it is manifested in a variety of professional contexts. Among these are the Health Sciences Reasoning Test, the Business Reasoning Test, the Business Attribute Inventory, the Business Critical Thinking Skills Test, the Legal Studies Reasoning Profile, and the Military and Defense Critical Thinking Inventory. The INSIGHT  Series of tools have been specifically calibrated to provide the valid and reliable metrics needed for business and corporate employees and job candidates.

Now in its third edition, Think Critically, Facione & Gittens, published by Pearson Education, explores ways to teach, learn and build  critical thinking skills and positive critical thinking habits of mind.

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