George Lucas Educational Foundation

How do You Assess Critical Thinking?

How do You Assess Critical Thinking?

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How do you do this? It occurred to me today that although I encourage critical thinking, I don't explicitly assess it on a rubric. This seems like a great oversight on my part, but then thinking about it, what would the criteria be and, even more importantly, how would it be levelled?

My initial idea is to have a a matrix such as:

-does not give evaluative comments / ask probing questions (no evidence)

-is starting to give evaluative comments / ask probing questions (beginning)

-regularly gives evaluative comments / asks probing questions (competent)

-does, & encourages others to, give evaluative comments / ask probing questions (advanced)

This is very rough and off the top of my head. What do you think? Anyone got any examples they are willing to share?

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John Trent's picture
John Trent
Research Director, Pearson TalentLens

Hi Abena,

I think your proposed matrix is a great start. You may consider breaking critical thinking down into its component parts. For example, you could evaluate the student's ability to Recognize Assumptions, Evaluate Arguments, and Draw Conclusions, as is outlined in the following model:

You could then combine the three ratings into an "Overall Critical Thinking" composite. My other recommendation would be to ensure that ratings are anchored with observable behavioral examples in your scoring rubric. (e.g., Identifies assumptions that were made; Seeks out different views on an issue; Evaluates arguments rigorously by focusing on evidence, relevance, and strength of reasoning).

I hope this helps.

Abena's picture
UK English (Language Arts) teacher working in Malaysia.

Thanks John, especially for the link that I'll follow up shortly. It definitely helps :)

David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

The Critical Thinking Consortium has a lot of resources related to critical thinking. I'd recommend looking through their website here:

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