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Insight Assessment Thinking & Learning Resources

Are you interested in the importance of improving critical thinking skills and mindset? Then you’ll want to save this list.

Here are eight of Insight Assessment’s most used resources for teachers, trainers and others who are involved in developing learning outcomes assessment projects.

Feel free to download and use these teaching and training tools in your work to promote improved thinking in students and adults:

  1. Critical Thinking: What it is and Why it Counts PDF: The most recent version of Dr. Peter Facione’s essay, explores the meaning and importance of critical thinking in all aspects of life and work.
  2. Characteristics of Strong Critical Thinkers: Based on the APA Expert Consensus Delphi Report description of strong critical thinkers.
  3. Cultivating a Critical Thinking Mindset PDF: Essay suggests specific practices people can do to develop strong critical thinking habits of mind
  4. Ten Positive Examples of Critical Thinking:  10 opportunities in daily life to engage problems and decisions using strong thinking skills and mindset
  5. 18 Ways Strong Thinking Skills are Applied in Business
  6. Effective Techniques for Building Reasoning Skills: ways to engage students & trainees in successful skills development and to reinforce a positive thinking mindset
  7. Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric: A rating measure that can be used to assess observable critical thinking demonstrated by presentations, essays, projects etc
  8. Sample Critical Thinking Questions: Examples that illustrate the types of situations which might appear on a generic adult level reasoning skills test

Be sure to check out the rest of the free Resources on the Insight Assessment website. We make these teaching, training and learning tools available as part of our commitment to supporting the measurement and improvement of good thinking worldwide.

Keep in touch!

  • Follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT, which explores ways we can all develop and benefit from stronger thinking.
  • You can keep up with the latest Insight Assessment posts about measuring critical thinking skills, mindset, leadership, and other related constructs using our RSS feed, or on social media.
Better decision-making creates better results

Identify and hire the best talent

You need to minimize the costly training time, reduce the risk of the new hire washing out and assure that new addition brings stability or improvement to team morale.

You work hard to hire the best available talent, but how do you know those new employees will become productive quickly?  How do you adapt their existing professional skills to new business needs?

Take the guesswork out of qualifying candidates

When you need to hire and then train your new employees to do the job, there’s a tool that will take the guesswork out of qualifying candidates.  INSIGHT assessment tools provide skills and mindset metrics to help you and your professionals maximize business performance by improving the quality of staff decision-making and reasoning throughout your organization. Get the reliable individual and group metrics you need to:

The right tools give you the data you need to accomplish your goals

An objective description of an individual's comparative strength in reasoning skills is a valuable aid in determining a person's capacity to benefit from educational training or to succeed in their job. INSIGHT starts with high quality, specialized thinking assessment tools for business, health care, government and education uses. Our solutions are designed take the hassle out of employee assessment:

  • Insight Assessment can work with you to identify the key metrics that impact the objectives challenging your staff responsibilities.
  • We provide full support for administration, setting up and managing your program.
  • Our highly flexible multilingual interface offers global 24/7 access for your team.
  • Reports provide comprehensive analysis of individual and group metrics for the key values you need.

In this tighter job market, you have more competition for the best talent. It's harder to hire the highly skilled and motivated candidates who are ready to succeed—and more important to prepare them to thrive in your culture.

Insight Assessment delivers the results and the data required to focus on implementing improvements. Contact us to discuss your specific needs.
Insight Assessment critical thinking tests available in Arabic, Chinese-Simplified, Chinese-Traditional, Dutch, English, Farsi, Finnish, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish & Vietnamese translations

Good thinking skills are a key ingredient to understanding ourselves and others in today's changing interconnected world.

We need to think about what we all have in common. The importance of developing open and strong thinking skills applies not just to us as individuals, but as a community, region, country and across the entire world. 

Good thinking is our strongest defense against ignorance and intolerance.

When strong thinking skills are applied with a fair and honest mindset, individuals and teams have the best chance to agree on solutions to world, national, local and our personal problems.

Good thinking skills are universal. In every society reaching an optimal problem solution requires people to:  

  • identify and analyze the problem, identifying key elements
  • assess the accuracy of facts and information sources
  • evaluate options and explain the strength and weakness of alternatives
  • draw conclusions in ambiguous contexts to determine the solution with the most likelihood of success
  • anticipate outcomes and see logical consequences in precise contexts
  • interpret and evaluate information presented in numerical formats

A strong thinking mindset is equally necessary for fair minded decision making. People who are motivated to make good decisions demonstrate:

  • a focused, organized and systematic approach to problem-solving,
  • openmindedness and tolerance, respecting diversity in perspectives, opinions,
  • thoughtfulness in decision-making with a commitment to use reasoning and fact-finding to resolve difficulties,
  • adaptablity to change,
  • self motivation and resourcefulness,
  • intellectual curiosity, following reasons & evidence wherever they may lead.

If we want to solve complex problems and propose the changes that will move our world forward, the development and application of good thinking skills and mindset attributes will be the foundation.  

Insight Assessment is passionate about the impact of growing, measuring and promoting good thinking worldwide. We are proud to count within our customers institutions and businesses who are committed to improving the quality of thinking in adults and children. Our multilingual online assessments and resources are used by education, business, healthcare, government and legal institutions to develop better curriculum, to focus training on improving thinking, and to identify the strong thinkers who will move their initiatives forward. If you want us to help bring these values to your workplace, give us a call.

Measurement tools

Many people believe that writing samples provide a good test of critical thinking.  But Insight Assessment does not use writing samples in your testing instruments.  Why is that?

We asked Dr. Peter Facione, senior researcher and author at Insight Assessment to respond:

Measurement science has developed objective methods for evaluating cognitive skills and habits of mind that are more precise, more valid, and more reliable than writing samples.

Writing prompts that invite a person to give reasons and evidence to support their analyses, inferences, explanations, evaluations and interpretations can be useful exercises for developing stronger critical thinking.  That said, using writing sample is a less than ideal method of assessing critical thinking because of inherent issues like invalidity, a lack of precision, insufficient variance, unreliability, and misrepresentation.

First, and most obviously, ratings of writing samples introduce a validity threat when evaluators conflate writing craft and a facility with rhetorical devices with critical thinking skills. (This is apart from the common human tendency to favor writing samples that present views with which the reader may agree vs. those that argue for positions with which the reader disagrees.) 

  • There are other threats to validity as well.  For example, all the ways that humans use critical thinking that do not include writing are automatically eliminated if the only manifestation evaluated is what the person is able to express in written form.  This limitation severely restricts the range of possible applications and manifestations of our critical thinking skills. 
  • Additionally, using writing samples typically does not provide the opportunity to test specific aspects of critical thinking such as its application in different reasoning contexts, empirical, comparative, ideological, and quantitative.  Nor does using writing typically permit the more detailed scrutiny of the writer’s ability to resist locking-in prematurely to a given alternative, to recognize and avoid common reasoning errors, and to overcome the tendency to misapply cognitive heuristics. 

A second area of concern is that writing based assessments do not spread out scores widely (lack variance) and those scores they do yield are imprecise.  Typically written work is scored using four or five categories in the way that a professor might assign letter grades to an essay.  While there is a rank ordering to the grades, the intervals between the grades are not necessarily uniform.  In measurement science we prefer smoothly uniform intervals between scores, which is why a large range of numerical scores, e.g. between 65 and 100, offers more precision and more variance.  The more precision and the more variance a valid and reliable measurement tool permits, the better the tool.

  • The reliability problems in the evaluation of writing samples are well documented.  That is why so much training is needed for the evaluators. In our experience even well-trained human graders using rubrics can disagree about what score to apply to written work.  We know too that human graders have difficulty reliably evaluating the writer’s critical thinking when the writer uses humor, irony, hyperbole, invective, or sarcasm. Computer can be programmed to be as reliable as trained human raters, but that is actually a rather low threshold.  Currently available computer grading algorithms are incapable of understanding what is written. The computers are not considering the quality of the critical thinking process used, instead the machines are looking only for syntactical markers, like sentence length, the frequency of the use of specific words, and grammatical construction.  

But, perhaps the most important consideration in favor of finding a better method than using writing samples comes from the very nature of what a writing sample represents.  Inevitably a writing sample is a person’s a reconstruction of their own thinking, but not the thinking itself.  Writers do not record and report their thought process as an entirely unedited steam of consciousness.  Writing samples are fabrications offered in most cases to make one appear to have been more thoughtful and more reasonable than was actually the case. 

  • Thanks to Dr. Peter Facione, a Senior Researcher at Insight Assessment and principal at Measured Reasons LLC, a Los Angeles based research and consulting firm supporting excellence in strategic thinking and leadership decision making.  Dr. Facione is the developer and author of the California Critical Thinking Skills Test family of measurement tools; his latest book is Think Critically, 2016, Facione & Gittens.

How are Insight Assessment test instruments validated?

What is the best way to assess critical thinking?

Don't Even Think About It

At the root of every study of human reasoning and decision making is the question: How can we make people more skilled in critical thinking and more committed to those skills? 

  • Every leader, every health care provider, every business executive, every educator, every coach, every organizer, every first responder, every scientist, every security officer, every person trying to learn something, solves problems or figures out how things work needs critical thinking.  Some people are more skilled, others less so.  Some are more persistent, well-organized, analytical, mature, inquisitive, and truth-seeking in their approach.  Others less so. 

Researchers are focusing more and more attention on effective methods for developing a sustained willingness and ability to engage problems and concerns using critical thinking.

Here are just a few ways that emphasis is expressed in different research projects:

  • How can we develop an increasingly capable human workforce to address the economic needs of the future?
  • Which critical thinking skills and habits of mind are most closely related to personal decisions about healthy eating?
  • How do programs at different educational levels or in different content domains such as robotics, science, mathematics, the creative arts, or the humanities impact the development of critical thinking?
  • What mindset characteristics make some health care providers better diagnosticians? 
  • How can we develop the critical thinking skills of fifth graders in a science magnet program? 
  • What mindset characteristics and thinking skills are needed to lead highly technical business initiatives?
  • Why do people often prefer to avoid a problem, even when they know they will suffer if no solution is found?
  • How can we use critical thinking test scores to empower and encourage more female and minority children to go into STEM programs?
  • How can we train emergency first responders to identify and solve new problems creatively and safely, using well-reasoned approaches?
  • What sort of training best prepares someone to come forward as a reliable and effective problem solver in dangerous, time-limited situations?
  • What is the relationship between people’s confidence in their critical thinking skills and their actual critical thinking skills?  Is the difference, if any, less or more depending on factors such as sex, age, professional field, educational level, discipline, work experience?
  • How can we resist the temptation to ‘shoot-from-the-hip’ instead of being more thoughtful when an emotionally charged decision must be made?
  • What should leaders in the military do to improve group thinking in field operations? 
  • What is the most common source of faulty human decision making and how can they be anticipated and avoided?
Many projects using Insight Assessment instruments to evaluate critical thinking skills and mindset attributes have been awarded funding by major governmental agencies which evaluate highly competitive research grants. In the United States these include the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.  

The Insight Assessment team is proud of our contribution to research studies of human reasoning and decision making.  Insight Assessment has a track record of 30 successful years of supporting higher education in the US and worldwide. We are committed to offering researchers, doctoral students and community service agencies reduced pricing through our internal grant program. Insight Assessment has a track record of 30 successful years of supporting higher education in the US and worldwide.We provide instruments specifically designed for the objective measurement of critical thinking skills and mindset habits of mind of adults and children.  Insight Assessment solutions include:

Contact us today to discuss your own critical thinking research project.

Companies grow when they hire strong thinkers: Insight Assessment measures decision making skills

Objective data predicts how successful employees will be in their job. Making the strategic decision to invest in assessing and training thinking pays off.

  • Progress and growth result from good decision-making; bad decision-making causes failures. You need to find and develop talented professionals with the reasoning skills and mindset to drive current systems to the next level, an eagerness for relentless problem solving, and an eye to seize opportunities while managing risks.

Hiring good thinkers raises the bar for current and future thinkers.  Making a commitment to objective assessment of candidate and employee thinking sends the message that the success of your business requires strong decision making throughout your operations. You get what you measure: when you hire strategically, you make sure you are building a talent pool with the motivation and potential to grow in their responsibilities.

Gain confidence that decisions are being made by people who have the necessary core reasoning skills to make the optimal conclusions. Success depends on the work ethic and the thinking skills of the employees at every level of your organization. When companies have strong, motivated thinkers, good decisions build business success, reduce errors and identify opportunities for growth.  

Support improvements in thinking skills and thinking mindset that can be achieved by employees at every stage of their career. Thinking skills and mindset can be trained. In fact, every motivated trainee and working professional can improve the quality of their thinking skills. Measuring thinking can motivate employees to hone their skills; knowledge of weaknesses can be a powerful motivator to change.

INSIGHT Business assessments provide the valuable information that is too often missing from current hiring and promotion procedures:  an objective, reliable measurement of the reasoning skills and mental disciplines required for the position.  INSIGHT measures 15 complex problem solving skills appropriate to the decision responsibility of your personnel. With specializations in business, healthcare, law, defense and education, INSIGHT provides cost-effective assessments that target your industry.

Get the benefits of employee data that will help you meet your goals.  Contact our client support team to see how INSIGHT targets the comprehensive individual and/or group metrics you need to improve the effectiveness of your staff.

Academic uses for student critical thinking skills and mindset data- Insight Assessment

Critical thinking may just be the most important and widely espoused college level student learning outcome.

Whether you are admitting new students, assessing an ongoing initiative or measuring achievement of learning outcomes by graduating seniors, Spring is an important time to gather critical thinking test data.

Assessing critical thinking in the Spring enables successful programs to:

Well calibrated measures of critical thinking have been shown to be predictive of performance in educational programs, success in the workplace, and achievement in professional practice.  Strong critical thinking skills and positive critical thinking habits of mind are vital to success in every academic discipline and major field of study. For over 30 years Insight Assessment’s scenario-based objective measures of critical thinking have provided clients with data on the relative strength of each test taker and on their test taker groups overall. 

Spring testing pays off throughout the campus.  Contact us to learn more our suite of test instruments calibrated for undergraduate, graduate and professional program college students. Our validated, objective assessments are used globally to report on strengths and weaknesses of the thinking skills and mindset attributes of individual and group test takers. Our online app based assessment delivery includes flexible test taker access, advanced security, global multilingual delivery and easy access to sample questions.

Contact us today. There's still time to implement an impactful Spring assessment program.

Taking an Insight Assessment critical thinking test

It is natural to wonder how to prepare to take one of our tests.  We provide testing instruments to academic institutions for admissions purposes and learning outcomes assessment purposes. And we provide other testing instruments to businesses for employee selection and training purposes. 

Insight Assessment educational and employment test instruments are designed to measure a person’s reasoning skills and thinking mindset. Here is how they work:

  • If you take one of our thinking mindset assessments you will be presented with a list of simple statements and asked whether you agree or disagree with each of those statements. No study or other kind of preparation is needed for this kind of an assessment. 
  • If you take one of our thinking skills tests you will be presented with questions that ask you which is the best response? All the information needed to answer is provided in the question itself.  You’ll need to apply your critical thinking skills to that information and then select the best response from those provided.  Again, no studying or specialized subject matter knowledge is needed, since the questions provide the content about which you’ll be reasoning. 
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to complete the assessment in an environment free of distraction.
    • If you are taking the assessment in app or online mode, your test administrator will provide a link and user login instructions. Your test may be timed; the online test systems include a timer that counts down the remaining time. The timer does not start until you actually bring the first test question up on the screen.
    • If you are taking the test in paper and pencil mode the test administrator will provide instructions.
  • Tests are scored electronically using our secure, validated testing system. Test results will be provided to you or your test administrator.

Building strong reasoning skills and a positive thinking mindset involves engaging problems and making decisions in a thoughtful way. There are many products designed to engage and strengthen critical thinking. For example, the introductory college level textbook, “Think Critically,” by Facione and Gittens, available from Pearson Education.

Generic adult level sample critical thinking skills questions and thinking mindset questions are posted on our website. These samples are only examples, not the same as the ones used on the tests you may being asked to take by schools, colleges or businesses.

Our own free app, Critical Thinking Insight, contains examples of critical thinking assessments, although not the same ones used by schools, colleges and businesses.  You may want to download our app and view the free sample skills and mindset questions there.  This will also give you a chance to familiarize yourself with our app based online test systems.

A good critical thinking test is not going to be a test of factual knowledge about critical thinking. Memorizing information and definitions is not the key. A good critical thinking test will engage you in using your thinking skills and mindset because critical thinking is a process.  Achieving greater success with critical thinking requires practice. Regularly exercising your critical thinking skills builds strength.

 Good luck.

bulls eye

Before you implement your critical thinking program make sure that the individual and group data reported will be objective, high impact and relevant.   

You’ve done the easy part:  You’ve realized that good thinking is critical to the success of your group/organization.  You’ve decided that you need reliable metrics to achieve your goal of improving the quality decision making and problem solving.

Now it’s time to make the most important decision:  how do you decide which assessment tool and company will efficiently deliver the high integrity data you need to meet your objectives?

Effective thinking and reasoning tests must:   

  • Measure and document a comprehensive view of the strengths and weaknesses of test takers’ thought processes. For a complete assessment of an individual’s thinking, it is essential to measure both skills and mindset.  Individuals can have the right skills but not the motivation to use them, so their mindset matters a lot.
  • Be calibrated for the intended test takers.  Assessments should be matched with the appropriate educational or job responsibility levels and, if possible, for the appropriate professional fields of the targeted test takers. Thinking assessments are not one-size-fits-all.
  • Support the language needs of your test takers. Language flexibility in the assessment instruments and in the test taker interface (TTI) can minimize the possibility that the measure of an individual’s thinking skills is affected by language ability Why good translations matter
  • Be user friendly.  Effective tests engage and challenge test takers with scenarios and situations relevant to their interests in a variety of formats.
  • Be firmly based on research in critical thinking, statistical analysis and measurement science.
  • Have a proven record of reliability and meet statistical requirements of validity. The strength of any test is determined by the validity of the questions and the quality of data gathered.
  • Deliver individual and group results in fast, detailed, readable and presentation ready reports which are calculated to assist decision-making.
  • Report strength and weaknesses of specific core components of decision making as well providing an overall metric
  • Provide the option of internal and external group norm percentile comparison
  • Include secure, encrypted app based interface available 24-7, easily administered at single or multiple sites, at test centers or independently to groups and to individuals.
  • Be supported by high quality client service starting from an informed consultation on test selection and logistics through delivery and analysis of results

Keep these criteria in mind as you analyze and evaluate test tools and companies.   Be thoughtful about choosing your thinking assessments.  Be sure you’re choosing the best.

All Insight Assessment solutions meet these criteria. We set the standard for objective, validated group and individual analytics on the strength and weakness of core components of thinking skills and mindset.  Insight Assessment offers a uniquely comprehensive array of test instruments calibrated specifically for educational, professional, business, health care, defense and legal uses. Our metrics are used and applied in 50 states and 60 countries in over 30 languages. Reports and analytics provide accurate measurements of essential  individual skills and mindset attributes. Group reports display aggregated statistics and bar-charts on each metric. Flexible administration options are available globally 24/7.  Results are delivered within minutes of completion of the assessment.

Contact us to design an assessment program that matches your goals, intended test takers and reporting needs. Get the data you need for admissions, accreditation, outcomes assessment, hiring, training, program evaluation, research and all other projects that require good thinking.

How to improve 7 attributes of a positive critical thinking mindset through practice

Cultivating a Critical Thinking Mindset, Part 3. 

The cultivation of a positive critical thinking mindset is both easier and yet more difficult than one might at first believe. Here are specific recommendations about ways to exercise the seven positive thinking attributes discussed in Part 2 of this series. Strong critical thinking skills depend on a strong critical thinking mindset. These recommendations should be practiced daily.

Putting the Positive Critical Thinking Mindset into Practice

  • Truth-seeking – Ask courageous and probing questions. Think deeply about the reasons and evidence for and against a given decision you must make. Pick one or two of your own most cherished beliefs, and ask yourself what reasons and what evidence there are for and against those beliefs.
  • Open-mindedness – Listen patiently to someone who is offering opinions with which you do not agree. As you listen, show respect and tolerance toward the person offering the ideas. Show that you understand (not the same as “agree with”) the opinions being presented.
  • Analyticity – Identify an opportunity to consciously pause to ask yourself about all the foreseeable and likely consequences of a decision you are making. Ask yourself what that choice, whether it is large or small, will mean for your future life and behavior.
  • Systematicity – Focus on getting more organized. Make lists of your most urgent work, family and educational responsibilities, and your assignments. Make lists of the most important priorities and obligations as well. Compare the urgent with the important. Budget your time to take a systematic and methodical approach to fulfilling obligations.
  • Critical Thinking Confidence – Commit to resolve a challenging problem by reasoning it through. Embrace a question, problem, or issue that calls for a reasoned decision, and begin working on it yourself or in collaboration with others.
  • Inquisitiveness – Learn something new. Go out and seek information about any topic of interest, but not one that you must learn about for work, and let the world surprise you with its variety and complexity.
  • Judiciousness – Revisit a decision you made recently and consider whether it is still the right decision. See if any relevant new information has come to light. Ask if the results that had been anticipated are being realized. If warranted, revise the decision to better suit your new understanding of the state of affairs.

To learn more, you can find the entire essay Cultivating A Critical Thinking Mindset (Peter A. Facione, Carol A. Gittens and Noreen C. Facione) as well as the seminal essay Critical Thinking: What it is and Why it Counts in the Insight Assessment Resources library. 

We hope this series has been informative, helpful and has engaged you in reflecting on ways you can be a better critical thinker. We are passionate about the impact of growing, measuring and promoting good thinking worldwide.  Insight Assessment provides assessment programs validated research based tools such as the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory, which measures each of these seven critical thinking habits of mind and the California Critical Thinking Skills Test which reports on overall thinking and five components of critical thinking skill. Contact us to discuss your assessment needs.

Want more?

Be sure you exercise your thinking skills today.  “A mind stretched by a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions” Oliver Wendell Holmes

Good thinking is in demand. Download Critical Thinking Insight from your app store today:

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