Train Critical Thinking to Improve Student Retention

Students seated around a table, discussing a college project

How to increase student retention

Start at the basic foundation of learning.  Student retention is dependent on students having the reasoning skills to successfully complete their academic programs.  If you want to increase student retention, train the critical thinking skills that are essential to student success.

In every academic discipline, retention is strongest when students have the skills and drive to succeed in their studies. Successful students are more likely to stay in school.

A good strategy to boost retention is to support at-risk students by helping them develop necessary learning skills & mindset.

Why students fail

Students fail because they lack the skills to successfully complete class work.

Often, they are not ready for their educational experience.  Some students are unable to think well enough to apply new knowledge, to engage and resolve problems. Other students lack the internal motivation to put effort into learning; they may need support in the mental disciplines (mindset) that support successful decision-making and problem solving.

Being willing and able to think well is vital to academic success.  Data shows that students with weak critical thinking skills fail to excel. Consequently, they often can’t succeed in their chosen academic programs.

  • Research suggests students who are not inquisitive; who take a disorganized approach to thinking and problem solving and who lack confidence in their own reasoning skills are the students who avoid using the learning resources and opportunities your support programs provide.
  • When students have not developed the thinking skills necessary to master class work, they drop out of school.

That’s why critical thinking may be the most important and widely espoused undergraduate and graduate level student learning outcome.

Strategies to improve student retention by improving student success

Student success depends on critical thinking skills & mindset - Insight AssessmentTraining students to be both willing and able to think critically puts them on the path toward academic success and lifelong learning.

Colleges and universities of all sizes have decided they cannot wait until students are failing courses and already on the road to academic disaster.   They now proactively focus their retention programs on improving student critical thinking skills and mindset before students give up.

Strategies include:

Identify students at risk of failure. Assess reasoning skills and mindset on the first day of class, during new student orientation, or even earlier in the admissions process. Skills can be improved; habits of mind can be identified as possible barriers to success;

Intervene with at risk students:  Individuals who fail to achieve an identified threshold will best benefit from first attending training programs aimed at growing critical thinking skills.

Use the data: Reliable assessment data permits programs to better target at-risk students and connect them with the necessary developmental programs, improving student success and student retention.

  • Individual data can provide valuable input to individualize counselling and advising
  • Group data from pre and post tests is used to evaluate the effectiveness of academic support programs.

Integrate critical thinking into curriculum: Create opportunities for students to improve critical thinking throughout the curriculum.  The most successful educators nurture and challenge thinking in their classroom and in classwork.

Use proven, validated tools

Relevant, actionable critical thinking data depends on the quality of the assessment tool.  Insight Assessment has over 30 years of providing research-based, reliable critical thinking assessments.  We offer critical thinking skills and critical thinking mindset assessments.

Higher Education needs metrics and quality measurements that are tailored to their learners.  Our test instruments are specifically calibrated for students at the two-year program, undergraduate and post graduate levels; professional school assessments are also available.  Our assessments are widely used to provide objective data for admissions, program evaluation, accreditation and programs to increase student retention and student success programs.

Objective data is essential. Insight Assessment critical thinking skills assessments report an Overall score of thinking ability, a norm-referenced percentile ranking and scale scores to indicate areas of strength and weakness.  Reports for our critical thinking mindset assessments analyze the attributes and values that influence a person’s capacity to learn and to effectively apply critical thinking skills.

Insight Assessment Online Testing makes tests available any time anywhere, whether directly at your site or multiple sites, at test centers or to individual devices.  Secure, encrypted online testing is available 24x7x365 with our multilingual delivery options. Our browser or app based online system provides the option of taking our assessments on virtually any device.

Employers report that critical thinking scores on Insight Assessment test instruments are strong predictors of a successful transition to careers, job certifications, and professional licensure.

Don’t wait until students fail. Why delay retention efforts until February or March when you could know at the beginning of the Fall term exactly which new students were at risk because they lack the motivation to learn, the drive to succeed, the resilience, or the foresight to succeed in college? The best time to begin efforts to increase student retention is now.

Contact us  to choose a cost effective, criterion based, valid and reliable measure of critical reasoning tailored to your general education and professional education programs.



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