How can I improve my critical thinking habits of mind?

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Cultivate seven positive attributes of a critical thinking mindset: Insight Assessment

Cultivating a Critical Thinking Mindset Part 1.

Having strong critical thinking skills is only half the equation. You can be skilled at thinking but if you don’t chose to apply those skills to learning and problem solving, the quality of your decisions suffer. Critical thinking mindset attributes lead to the consistent intention to apply critical thinking skills.

Do you have strong thinking habits of mind?

Here’s a self-rating form developed by researchers and authors, Peter A. Facione, Carol A. Gittens and Noreen C. Facione. This measure does not assess critical thinking skills. Instead you are asked to reflect on whether your own behavior over the past two days manifested a positive, ambivalent, or negative tendency toward engaging in thoughtful, reflective, and fair-minded judgments about what to believe or what to do.

Critical Thinking Mindset Self-Rating Form

Answer yes or no to each statement.

Can I name any specific instances over the past two days when I:

  1. was courageous enough to ask tough questions about some of my longest held and most cherished beliefs?
  2. backed away from questions that might undercut some of my longest held and most cherished beliefs?
  3. showed tolerance toward the beliefs, ideas, or opinions of someone with whom I disagreed?
  4. tried to find information to build up my side of an argument but not the other side?
  5. tried to think ahead and anticipate the consequences of various options?
  6. laughed at what other people said and made fun of their beliefs, values, opinion, or points of views?
  7. made a serious effort to be analytical about the foreseeable outcomes of my decisions?
  8. manipulated information to suit my own purposes?
  9. encouraged peers not to dismiss out of hand the opinions and ideas other people offered?
  10. acted with disregard for the possible adverse consequences of my choices?
  11. organized for myself a thoughtfully systematic approach to a question or issue?
  12. jumped in and tried to solve a problem without first thinking about how to approach it?
  13. approached a challenging problem with confidence that I could think it through?
  14. instead of working through a question for myself, took the easy way out and asked someone else for the answer?
  15. read a report, newspaper, or book chapter or watched the world news or a documentary just to learn something new?
  16. put zero effort into learning something new until I saw the immediate utility in doing so?
  17. showed how strong I was by being willing to honestly reconsider a decision?
  18. showed how strong I was by refusing to change my mind?
  19. attended to variations in circumstances, contexts, and situations in coming to a decision?
  20. refused to reconsider my position on an issue in light of differences in context, situations, or circumstances?
  • Give yourself 5 points for every “Yes” on odd numbered items and for every “No” on even numbered items. If your total is 70 or above, you are rating your disposition toward critical thinking over the past two days as generally positive. Scores of 50 or lower indicate a self-rating that is averse or hostile toward critical thinking over the past two days. Scores between 50 and 70 show that you would rate yourself as displaying an ambivalent or mixed overall disposition toward critical thinking over the past two days. 

This article is adapted with permission from Cultivating A Critical Thinking Mindset (Peter A. Facione, Carol A. Gittens and Noreen C. Facione, Measured Reasons). More resources, including Characteristics of Strong Critical Thinkerscan be found in the Insight Assessment Resources library.

CCTST Family of Tests measures critical thinking skills Insight Assessment provides validated research based multilingual tools such as the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI), which measures seven critical thinking habits of mind and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) which gives scores on overall thinking and five components of thinking skill. We are proud of our uniquely comprehensive array of thinking skills and mindset assessments calibrated specifically for educational, professional, business, health care, defense and legal uses.

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