The best way to motivate people to give their best effort on a critical thinking assessment is to make the test relevant to them.
It’s a win/win situation when test takers are motivated to engage in the assessment process. People are most likely to take assessments seriously when they see the personal value of good performance.
Communication with test-takers is essential
- Set the stage. We all need to make decisions and solve problems every day. Personal success is based on the strength of individual critical thinking skills and personal mindset attributes. A thinking test measures practical real world skills. Explain that their scores on a good critical thinking test depend on the quality of the skills they use to judge what to believe or what to do. If they don’t choose to think about the questions, they won’t do well. Emphasize that the critical thinking assessment is not a test of knowledge that can be studied for, so test-takers shouldn’t stress about cramming for it.
- Make it relevant. Many people sustain a stronger effort on the assessment when the result is of interest to them or carries some significance to them. Tell test takers why they have been assigned the testing session and why it is important to make their best effort on the assessment. Explain the value of the testing process by letting them know how the information about the group as a whole will be used. Discuss how group and individual test scores will be used locally to evaluate curriculum, to assist in class placement, or as a diagnostic, outcomes assessment, etc. Let them know the data gathered isn’t just going to be filed and forgotten.
- Make it personal. Most educators believe that learning about personal performance is a motivating factor for future effort at self-improvement. Test takers are more engaged when they believe that they will benefit personally from the data collected by the assessment. Depending on the reason for testing and the details of the educational program, employees and students can be informed of their results at appropriate times in their educational programs (during staff development or advising sessions when testing is done as a diagnostic, or at the completion of the programs when testing is a component of program evaluation or educational outcomes assessment.)
- Insight Assessment clients are increasingly choosing the option of offering printable individual reports to students after the critical thinking testing is completed. Knowing that they will receive a realistic assessment personal report describing their strengths and weaknesses is appealing. Students and other test takers value this objective personal critical thinking analysis. They find this analysis report extremely useful as they prepare for their future careers.
- Choose a test that fits the test takers: All critical thinking tests are not alike: make sure the test speaks to the intended test takers. Effective tests engage and challenge test takers with scenarios and situations relevant to their interests in a variety of formats. Other considerations might include reading level, multi-language options, educational specialization and test delivery options.
- Discuss results: Follow up after the testing session. Discuss the overall results. Let them know the time and effort they spent on the test was not wasted time. This is a good time to discuss the importance and interrelationships of the components of strong thinking. Achieving greater success with critical thinking requires practice. Encourage them to regularly exercise good thinking.
- Unfortunately cookies and milk don’t really help. But everyone appreciates the treat.