Do specific critical thinking skill scores represent independent factors?

No. Here is why. When we talk about critical thinking we are discussing a holistic human reasoning process which results in a singular judgment about what to believe or what to do.  Like safe driving, a person can’t just be proficient at the gas pedal skills, and you cannot evaluate gas pedal skills without considering how those skills go into the whole process of safe driving.

The two-thousand year old traditional delineation of reasoning skills, which divides them into deductive or inductive, cross cuts the APA Delphi Report’s list of core critical thinking skills. This means that any given inference or analysis or interpretation, for example, might be classified as deductive or as inductive, depending upon how the theoretician conceives of these more traditional categories. Conceptually the skills in the Delphi list are not necessarily discrete cognitive functions either, but in actual practice are used in combination during the process of forming a reasoned judgment, that is critical thinking.

In some contexts a given skill can be considered foremost, even though other skills are also being used. For example, a given test question may call heavily upon a test taker’s numeracy skills, while at the same time requiring the correct application of the person’s analytical and interpretive skills.

For these reasons, and others relating to test design and cognitive endurance, the questions on the CCTST, may or may not be used on more than one scale.  As a result, although the specific skill scores reported have internal consistency reliability, test-retest reliability, and strong value as indicators of specific strengths and weaknesses, they are not independent factors; which is theoretically appropriate to the holistic conceptualization of critical thinking as the process of reasoned and reflective judgment, rather than simply a list of discrete skills.

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