The Importance of Assessing Critical Thinking This Fall

Group of college students celebrating their graduation, showing of their mortarboards

Why is it important to assess critical thinking this fall?

To get data to support student success

As fall approaches, concerns  about academic preparedness and early indicators of learning loss are driving the need for relevant, objective analytics to proactively support incoming students.

This year it is even more important to get to know your students and to identify which have the best chances of success and which are most at risk, due to weak critical thinking.  

Do your incoming students have the critical thinking skillset and mindset needed for a smooth transition to your campus community? Are they organized problem solvers who will anticipate the challenges of their new social and learning environment, anticipate their needs, evaluate their progress, and succeed at becoming a college level learner?

Or, lacking strong critical thinking, which incoming students are more likely to procrastinate academically and to make poor judgments about how to handle the new problems that come with the transition to college? Which of them may not have the skill or the drive to seize the wonderful opportunities being offered by their college experience?

Assessing the critical thinking of incoming students in the fall semester builds the foundation for student accomplishment.

Know more about your incoming students

Critical thinking skills are predictive of student success.

It’s hard to think of a career or life effort that doesn’t benefit from the application of critical thinking. Skills like analysis, evaluation, explanation, inference, deduction and numeracy are essential for problem solving. Critical thinking mindset attributes such as truth-seeking, open-mindedness, inquisitiveness, and systematicity, further underpin the motivation to resolve issues.

Assessing the critical thinking skills and learning mindset of incoming students provides the data needed to support student success and retention.

6 ways critical thinking assessment data enables student success

A well designed assessment program delivers:

1.  Diagnostic data to support student success

Evaluating student strengths and weaknesses in critical thinking skills and attributes, as they enter academic schools or programs, provides useful information to all faculty.

2.  Input for advising students

Fall test data aids in placement and guiding students working to complete educational degree programs and professional preparation programs.

3.  Improve student retention

Measuring the thinking skills and attributes of incoming students provides essential data for student support programs. At risk students benefit from early intervention with necessary developmental programs.

4.  Comparison data for new student cohorts

Fall data establishes a baseline for the comparison of entering cohorts over time. Campus cohorts can be followed in relation to national norm comparison groups, marking their performance toward a campus quality enhancement goal. It can also provide an objective measure of improvements in student critical thinking.

5.  Evaluate impact of new curricula or instructional approaches

Examining baseline data on entering cohorts is one way to measure the impact of new curriculum or pedagogical approaches at both the program and campus level. With a well-planned pre-post test design, data can be used to follow targeted test takers throughout their program, assessing the long term effectiveness of specific curricula.  Validated data demonstrates student achievement of thinking learning outcomes for accreditation studies.

6.  Critical thinking data for researchers

Research on the effectiveness of various strategies for training critical thinking skills and habits of mind in differing educational contexts has become a valuable contribution to student learning. Researchers obtain data at the beginning and end of a designed learning opportunity to examine strategies used to train critical thinking.

Report graphic of histogram showing distribution of CCTST Overall Critical Thinking score comparison percentiles

Data to improve critical thinking skills in students

It is important to assess critical thinking in the fall to obtain data to support student success in learning.

Colleges and universities in every state of the nation and many countries around the world use Insight Assessment validated tools for accreditation, quality improvement, selective admissions and benchmarking.

  • Whether your students learn in a face-to-face environment or virtually and globally, you can achieve the highest level of personal advising and mentoring for your incoming student group. 
  • Obtain a comprehensive assessment of  critical thinking skills as well as the attributes of a thinking mindset for each of your admitted students.
  • Provide personalized feedback of the strengths and areas for growth for each student.
  • Collect assessments online, sending student an individual coded login that can be used on any device, 24/7.
  • Assure their privacy protection with secure encrypted data collection and fully customizable student profile options.
  • Obtain group level data that can be shared with academic departments, schools, and student services personnel to guide curriculum and program development. 
  • Track data over time to respond to quality enhancement projects.

Add critical thinking data to your student advising and retention programs for this year’s incoming class. Critical Thinking Data: Not Just for Admissions.

Join our many clients who know that supporting students’ success and retention more than pays for itself.  Jumpstart your students’ success in their college level programs and retain more of the students who have chosen your college community.  

Contact us to learn more about our test instruments and to receive a price quote.

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