Potential Project Description for 2008-09


Title: Assessing Critical Thinking
Faculty: Robert McClure, Education

This project builds upon the efforts of the 2007-08 project where strategies for teaching and assessing critical thinking skills were developed for use at the classroom level. Curriculum and pedagogy were developed with the intent of enhancing student’s ability to think critically. We will be using pre and post tests to be determined prior to the 2008 fall semester for use in CIS 202. We will also be using qualitative processes throughout the semester to gather additional data for the purposes of triangulation. Using a mixed-methods approach to assessing critical thinking should proved a rich data set for analyzing the effectiveness of our course with regard to this topic.

The project purpose is to design a mixed methods study on critical thinking for future use in selected social studies education courses. Assessment of student critical thinking has been a focus of the college for several years. What we intend to do is to apply some of what has been learned from these efforts to a study of student critical thinking within several classrooms during the 2008-09 academic year. While we have gathered significant data on critical thinking at the college level, what is needed is a method for gathering data at the classroom level. We propose the development of methodology to accomplish this task. We want to analyze a variety of existing assessment instruments for validity and ease of use with the intent of selecting a pre and post assessment of student critical thinking at the classroom level. Current instruments in use by the college are too costly and time consuming.

In addition to selecting pre and post assessments for use at the classroom level, we would like to finalize qualitative practices and procedures for gathering supplementary data on student critical thinking. Having both qualitative and quantitative data should provide us with a richer understanding of critical thinking within the classrooms selected for this study. Our desire is to develop methodology that is both valid and relatively easy to use within the framework of a class. If this can be accomplished, the methodology could be applicable in other environments.