Critical Thinking Assessment

To determine the impact of the IDEAS Modules and Center on students’ global development of critical thinking,  a 2 x 3 quasi-experimental mixed design examining time of assessment (pre vs. post measures of critical thinking) and cohort group will be conducted. Three cohort groups will be examined: calculus ready cohort, the pre-calculus cohort prior to implementation of the IDEAS Modules and Center, and the pre-calculus cohort following implementation of the IDEAS Modules and Center.  For purposes of this project, “global” development is defined as changes in critical thinking not tied specifically to module completion, course assignments, or student products.

Global critical thinking was assessed using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). The CCTST was developed through the Delphi Project (1990) utilizing expert consensus methods to articulate the nature of critical thinking, its use in education, and its assessment.  The resulting work articulated critical thinking along 2 dimensions: the cognitive skills necessary for critical thinking and a dispositional dimension (personality or affective attributes) associated with critical thinking.  The CCTST was developed to assess the reasoning skills associated with the cognitive dimension of critical thinking.  It provides measures of critical thinking skills along 5-subscales: analysis-interpretation, inference, evaluation-explanation, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning.  The CCTST, considered by some the “gold standard” in critical thinking assessment, has been normed along many dimensions, including gender, ethnicity, major, etc.

Our results indicated that cohorts’ critical thinking scores did not differ significantly between pre and post tests, and no significant differences existed between cohorts either. In other words, this measure of critical thinking remained stable for individuals across the first year engineering courses.  It also did not differ for pre calc students who had or had not been exposed to the IDEAS modules and center.  Finally, calculus ready students’ scores also did not differ significantly from the pre-calculus cohorts.