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Critical Thinking Successes in Higher Education

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Advance Critical Thinking in Admissions, Learning and Accreditation

Beyond the obvious educational value, good data can also enrich key academic activities. Our data has been used for admissions, in learning research, program quality improvements, and for outcomes assessment for professional and for regional accreditation.

Examples come from institutions of every kind, including four-year liberal arts institutions, two-year community colleges and tech schools; research universities and regional comprehensives.  Curriculum varies from business, the health sciences, STEM, associate degree, baccalaureate, post-baccalaureate to professional training, and adult education programs.

Check out our client success stories!

If you do not find your kind of program or institution in the short list below, call us to ask how your peers are using critical thinking data to build institutional as well as student success.

Critical Thinking for Higher Education Admissions 

Admissions – Professional Schools and Non-Traditional Students

  • MBA, Accounting, and other Graduate Level Business programs use the Business Critical Thinking Skills Test (BCTST) for admissions to both on-site and online programs. BCTST reports on how well students reason in numerical contexts, when the problem situation is uncertain and when conditions allow for concise decision making. Individual student profiles, for those students who are admitted, guide advising for course selection throughout the academic year. The profile of reasoning skills scores, benchmarked against the national percentile, also provides faculty with information to guide new curriculum development.
  • Health sciences programs. Deans and directors of health sciences programs have made the Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT) the instrument of choice for admissions. It is used in a wide range of disciplines including dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, PA, RT, PT, OT, etc. The instrument offers national benchmark comparison percentiles for graduate, undergraduate, and associate degree students. HSRT helps alleviate the problem of a lost seat when an admitted student cannot complete the program and achieve licensure.
  • Non-traditional students.  With the renewed emphasis on returning adult, veteran, and transfer student admissions, enrollment managers are discovering the value of the skills and mindset metrics reported by the College Student Success (CSS) instrument.  The reasoning skills metrics indicate the ability to succeed in college; while the mindset metrics indicate the drive, resourcefulness, and desire to achieve success.
  • Engineering & STEM programs. Because of the steep increase in students hoping to enter STEM programs, Deans of Engineering (and other highly impacted programs) are turning to the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) for admissions. Using the undergraduate and graduate STEM comparison percentiles, an in-depth assessment of reasoning skills informs their admissions decision. As a result, the accelerated and demanding curriculum is well received by students who successfully transition to STEM professionals.   
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Critical Thinking in Accreditation Self-Studies

Accreditation – Regional and Professional

  • Research universities. State flagship and other top tier research universities demonstrate gains in critical thinking skills annually using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) . Some take advantage of the versatility of our online testing system to enable matched-pairs longitudinal assessment designs or to disaggregate data into reports sent to each dean and department chair. Other schools target specific national comparison percentile benchmarks to evaluate the overall effectiveness of their baccalaureate degree programs. 
  • Regional comprehensives, liberal arts, and two-year institutions. Throughout the country regional comprehensives, liberal arts as well as research universities, are responding to regional accreditation agency demands for actionable learning outcomes assessment using cross-sectional data samples gathered with the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) or the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) . In the  SACS region they address their accreditation QEP challenge by identifying critical thinking as the most worthy learning objective to address, and then using the CCTST or the CCTDI to gather multi-year data samples.
  • Professional School Accreditation. Many Deans of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy at a prestigious health sciences university are using the Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT) to gather objective, nationally benchmarked data on the critical thinking skills of students who are within two months of graduation.
  • Professional School Deans obtain double the value by using the data for their respective school’s professional accreditation purposes and to establish school-specific critical thinking entry level admissions criteria.

Critical Thinking for Higher Ed Program Evaluation

Program Evaluation and Learning Research

  • Grant Funded Research. Each year,  NSF, NIH, DOE, and DOD competitive grant funded researchers use our well-respected and widely documented assessment tools to gather data for their projects.  In turn, we support externally funded competitive research projects with deep discounts.  Researchers recognize the validity of our assessments and appreciate the opportunity that our versatile technology gives them to add demographic questions and to aggregate or disaggregate data in multiple ways automatically online.  
  • Evaluation of training program effectiveness. The USAF uses the Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT) to test the effectiveness of an intensive three-month nurses training program designed to develop critical thinking skills. Trainees are tested before (T1) and after (T2) the training session, and, again, one year after they are deployed at military medical centers (T3). Gains at T2 have documented achievement of their objective to improve reasoning skills. Additional gains at T3 show that personnel continue to improve in their reasoning and decision-making skills over time.
  • Dissertation research. In many countries around the world, doctoral students from numerous disciplines are gathering dissertation research data on the impact of new curricular/instructional approaches or training programs. Typically implementing a pretest / posttest design, they use a wide variety of our assessment tools with subjects as young as elementary school students and as experienced as professionals.
  • Scholars and independent researchers have documented growth in student critical thinking using the same international expert consensus definition of “critical thinking” as utilized by our higher education assessment instruments. See “Strategies for Teaching Students to Think Critically: A Meta-Analysis,” Abrami, P. et. al, Review of Educational Research, June 2015, Vol. 85, No. 2, pp. 275–314. Reviewed 341 publications documenting experimental and quasi-experimental studies using standardized measures of critical thinking – some of which happened to use our assessment tools. The conclusion drawn was “… there are effective strategies for teaching critical thinking at all educational levels and across all disciplinary areas. Notably, the opportunity for dialogue, exposure to authentic or situated problems and examples, and mentoring had positive effects on critical thinking skills.”  
Advance Critical Thinking in Admissions, Learning & Accreditation

There are many more success stories to be told by our higher education clients across the nation and around the world, and by our clients from other sectors including K-12, health care, business, executive training, the military and government agencies.  But, more importantly, there is YOUR success story. 

Call us today at 650-697-5628. Let us assist you with ideas about how you can gather and use data on students’ critical thinking in your admissions, advising, student retention, curricular development, outcomes assessment, or accreditation self-study processes. 

Teaching our students to think well is at the very heart of a good education. 

Let’s work together to reinforce that high purpose by building the measurement of critical thinking into the very culture of all that we do as educators.  We look forward to hearing from you about YOUR programs.

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