Learning Outcomes Assessment

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A collection of studies reporting the outcome of assessment projects. Papers from general education projects, STEM education studies, health sciences training projects and business education curriculum evaluation projects are included.

Overview of scholarly literature about critical thinking, its instruction, and its assessment

  • Don’t Reinvent the Critical Thinking Wheel: What Scholarly Literature Tells Us about Critical Thinking Instruction. Eigenauer JD, (2017) National Institute of Staff and Organizational Development.  As colleges face accreditation requirements or as departments undergo program review, they commonly seek to integrate formal statements about critical thinking into their documentation. It is not uncommon for these schools to be unsure about how to do so. Frequently, faculty meet to seek consensus on the meaning of critical thinking, as well as how it should be taught and measured. Because faculty have discipline-specific expertise, they may not be familiar with the literature on critical thinking that has emerged from the fields of cognitive science, educational, developmental, and social psychology, and even neuroscience. This can result in well-intentioned but sometimes misinformed efforts. The goal of this article is to present an overview of what scholarly literature tells us about critical thinking, its instruction, and its assessment in order to assist schools in aligning their efforts in this important field with the most current scientific knowledge and best pedagogical practices. The scholarly literature on critical thinking, its instruction, and its assessment is quite large. While the conclusions that various researchers draw are somewhat diverse, one finding predominates. It is that measurable gains in critical thinking among college students are obtainable by implementing proven methods and best practices, which always include explicit instruction in critical thinking.  Executive Summary of the Delphi Report

Building the Critical Thinking Mindset with Training in Argument Mapping

  • Targeted Instruction in Critical Thinking Improves Dispositions. Eigenauer, J.D. Taft College, Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines. Summer 2016, Vol. 31, No 2.  This study used a pretest posttest design to examine the effectiveness of targeted instruction in critical thinking skills to improve critical thinking disposition, using the CCTDI. A sample of 78 community college students from three course sections completed a targeted curriculum focused on argumentation, with a particular emphasis on argument mapping.  Students demonstrated significantly stronger critical thinking mindset at posttest, with particular growth in Truth-seeking, Open-Mindedness, Systematicity, and Maturity of Judgment. 90% of students transitioned from Ambiguous to Strong at posttest in Truth-Seeking. 61% of students made this transition in Maturity of Judgment. It is important to remember that the human brain, despite its plasticity, remains fairly intransient in its habits. Yet, it is possible that certain kinds of instruction that focus students’ attention on new paradigms of thinking may successfully guide them to ways of thinking that are more active, open and objective.

Critical Thinking and The College Experience at an HBCU

  • The Relationship Between College Experience at an Historically Black College and Students’ Critical Thinking Skills. Little, I.P. 2017. Dissertation submitted at Grand Canyon University. This study examined the relationship between undergraduate college experience at an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the State of Alabama, USA, and students’ critical thinking skills. The study sample included 45 freshmen, 46 sophomores, 34 juniors, and 38 seniors. Five dimensions of the undergraduate experience were measured: on/off campus residency, membership in a sorority or fraternity, participation in intercollegiate sports, participation in extracurricular activities, and year in school (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior). The OVERALL score on the CCTST was the criterion variable. A linear regression analysis found no statistically significant relationship between dimensions of college experience and students’ critical thinking skills, with the exception of year in school. A statistically significant relationship between students’ year in school (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior) and their critical thinking skills F (3,159) = 4.04, p =.008, suggests that critical thinking skills were being strengthened in this cross-sectional sample.

Numeracy in Middle School Students

  • Assessing Numeracy in the Upper Elementary and Middle School Years. Gittens CA. NUMERACY: Advancing Education in Quantitative Literacy (2015). Numeracy is the ability or tendency to reason critically about quantitative information. The preponderance of published research on numeracy examines this construct among either pre-K or early elementary samples, students with developmental challenges, or is focused on post-secondary and adult cohorts. The numeracy skills of upper-elementary and middle school students are less well documented and understood, most notably because of the lack of valid instruments that are developmentally appropriate for the age range. The numeracy scale on the CCTST MIB and CCTST M25 critical thinking skills tests was used in upper-elementary and middle school students in this study. The scale was validated in a gender-balanced, racially and ethnically diverse sample of 3rd through 8th grade students (N=197) from a private, Catholic K-8 school in Santa Clara County, California. Construct validity was supported by strong, positive correlations with the three subscales of the Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT) as well as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills Mathematics test, a standardized academic achievement domain assessment. A preliminary exploration of the critical-thinking dispositional correlates of numeracy suggests a positive relationship with students’ self-reported creative problem solving, diligence, systematicity, and fairmindedness.Contact us for further information about the CCTST MlB and CCTST M25.

Critical thinking assessment in Business Education

  •  Understanding the Nature and Determinants of Critical Thinking Among Senior Business Undergraduate Students Brown FW &  Bielinska-Kwapisz, (2015) Journal of Education for Business.The authors examine the dimensions and determinants of critical thinking skills, as measured by the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) among graduating senior students enrolled in an Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business–accredited undergraduate business program. Utilizing explanatory variables, a methodology for predicting student cognitive development while in an academic program is described and was utilized to identify the percentage of students who were over- and underachieving expected developmental levels across fields of study in the focal group. Implications of the results and suggestions for further study are provided.

Direct training achieves results

  • Instructional Interventions Affecting Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions: A Stage 1 Meta-Analysis. Abrami PC, et al., Review of Educational Research. (2008): “Critical thinking (CT), or the ability to engage in purposeful, self-regulatory judgment, is widely recognized as an important, even essential skill. This article describes an ongoing meta-analysis that summarizes available empirical evidence on the impact of instruction on the development and enhancement of critical thinking skills and dispositions.  We found 117 studies based on 20,698 participants, yielded 161 effects with an average effect size (g+) of 0.341 and a standard deviation of 061. Type of CT intervention and pedagogical grounding were substantially related to fluctuations in CT effects sizes, together accounting for 32% of the variance. These findings make it clear that improvement in students’ CT skills and dispositions cannot be a matter of implicit expectation.  As important as the development of CT skills is considered to be, educations must take steps to make CT objectives explicit in courses and also to include them in both pre-service and in-service training and faculty development.”

Athletic Training Programs

  • Assessment of Critical Thinking Skills Among Undergraduate Athletic Training Students. German, N. (2008) Dissertation. Scores generated from this study provided a critical thinking baseline score for undergraduate athletic training students. Using a 95% confidence interval, results show that undergraduate athletic training students’ CCTSTscores are comparable to students in other allied health professions. This study also indicates that the CCTST is an appropriate measurement tool for athletic training. An analysis of variance revealed no significant difference between academic level and critical thinking scores (p = 0.05).

Growth in Mindset

  • Disposition toward critical thinking among occupational therapy students. Lederer JM. (2007). Amer J Occupational Therapy. The disposition, or internal motivation, to think critically strongly influences the development of critical thought. Students (N = 79) at three levels of education in one program were administered the CCTDI. Results indicated no differences in the disposition to think critically related to length of time spent in the program. Differences in the dispositions of open-mindedness and maturity of judgment were found between undergraduate and graduate students.

Collaborative Assessment Project

  • Outcomes of ADN-BSN partnerships to increase baccalaureate prepared nurses. Sizemore MH, Robbins LK, Hoke MM, Billings DM. (2007). International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship. To address a statewide need, a BSN Program and 3 ADN Programs formed a partnership to take BSN education to rural and medically underserved areas in New Mexico. This article describes the program planning, implementation, and evaluation using an adapted assessment framework with partnership principles as its foundation. Interactive television, internet education components, local clinical experiences, and distant nursing faculty liaisons were used. The nursing course sequence was completed by 101 of 102 students. Hall’s Professionalism Scale, the CCTDI and the CCTST measured the increases found in professional socialization and critical thinking. Use of the adapted theoretical framework represented a strategic approach to developing a distance delivered nursing education program.

Curricular Effectiveness in Prosthetics/Orthotics

  • A prospective study on the development of critical thinking skills for student prosthetists and orthotists in Hong Kong. Wong MS. (2007). Prosthet Orthot International. This study was to evaluate prospectively the development of critical thinking disposition of the student prosthetists and orthotists in Hong Kong. The results showed that there was significant improvement in 5 out of the 7 domains of the CCTDI, namely Truthseeking, Open-mindedness, Systematicity, Analyticity, Critical thinking self-confidence, Inquisitiveness and Maturity of judgment in 3 years’ time. Further curriculum enhancements were suggested as the sum of all the domains was just slightly above the threshold of positive tendency.

Anxiety and Self-Esteem

  • Critical thinking, self-esteem, and state anxiety of nursing students. Suliman WA, Halabi J. (2007). Nurse Education Today. This study used a cross-sectional correlational design to explore critical thinking (CT) disposition in a convenience sample of first year (n=105) and fourth year (n=60) nursing students in Saudi Arabia. Of interest was the relationship between CT disposition (CCTDI), self-esteem (Rosenberg SE), and state anxiety (Spielberger SAI). CCTDI scores showed no serious deficiency with the exception of a weakness in CT confidence. Scores for Self-esteem scale were average, and scores on the SAI were relatively high. Beginning students reported significantly poorer CT self-confidence (t=-2.053, p=.04).

Measuring Post Graduates

  • Exploring critical thinking in critical care nursing education: a pilot study. Rogal SM, Young J. (2008). Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing. Critical care nurses process vast amounts of information and require well developed critical-thinking skills to make clinical decisions. Using a pretest posttest design, the critical-thinking skills of 31 postgraduate nurses in Western Australia were evaluated using the CCTST. For the total group, mean critical-thinking scores improved slightly over time. The CCTST revealed a mean pretest score of 18.5 and a mean posttest score of 19.7, both of which were higher than the established norms for the test. Despite the small sample, the majority of the postgraduate nurses improved their critical-thinking skills during the course of their study.

Gains with Online Education

  • Critical Thinking in Online vs. Face-to-Face Higher Education. Derwin EB Media Psychology Review (2009). This study compares critical thinking skills for adult learners in online and face-to-face liberal studies classes at a university with locations in California and Washington (N=150). In a between subjects design, the study analyzed students’ score gains from pre- to post-tests on the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). The study also compared students’ grades on critical thinking assignments required at the end of the course. Results showed that there were no significant differences between face-to-face and online learners for the CCTST score gains or the grades on the final assignments. Results are consistent with previous “no significant difference” studies. The research adds to the literature by specifically addressing outcomes in critical thinking. Future studies may benefit from selecting a variety of critical thinking measures and identifying characteristics required to demonstrate higher-level thinking skills.

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