Researching Educational Techniques for Training Critical Thinking

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Recognizing the importance of researching and training critical thinking

The effectiveness of educational techniques in training critical thinking skills and mindset must be investigated. Insight Assessment supports scholars, globally, in their research. Discovering the best methods to develop these valued workplace skills/attributes is our shared goal.

Federal funding is becoming increasingly available globally as governments discover the value of better thinking in their executives, health care workers and community leaders.

Insight Assessment provides support for this global advancement of critical thinking through our research support programs.  PhD students and post-doctoral scholars working on critical thinking research are offered deeply discounted pricing for assessment licensing through our internal grant support program.

By capturing a critical thinking score before and after training, the effectiveness of the training can be documented. Scores can be benchmarked to an external criterion (for example, a comparison population) and related to other measures used in the sector to assess quality (for example, scores on licensure examinations or supervisor evaluation ratings).

Evaluating the effectiveness of educational techniques for training critical thinking

Teachers and trainers in STEM often focus on mindset attributes needed for (1) innovative design and development as well as (2) the rigorous problem solving required in these technically challenging environments. Problem-mapping; categorization exercises; the completion of specified tasks using design software programs;  recording a key event’s process with evaluative comments; group analysis sessions; in-depth critique of group problem solving sessions and many other techniques are used to train critical thinking.

Health Science educators use these same techniques to train diagnostic thinking and the clinical reasoning needed for case management. For example, scholars in this area examine the relative value of using patient simulators; various case analysis techniques; self-evaluation logs; and process recordings for the development of strength in clinical reasoning.

Scholars in Business, Military and Law programs examine the effectiveness of the strategies that they use to training reasoning skills and the thinking mindset. This is essential to assure the success of their goals whether it be corporate initiatives, the development of effective military strategy or mission control, or the optimal result for a legal client.

Dissertation scholars across the disciplines are working to improve our knowledge of how to most effectively train critical thinking skills and mindset.

Today, the effort is international.     

Image of spinning blue gears representing critical thinking

Examples of research on educational techniques to improve reasoning

Each year independent scholars from around the world add to the published research on the effective training of critical thinking skills, numeracy skills and reasoning mindset. Here are some current global leaders whose work has been influential in testing the effectiveness of educational techniques designed to train critical thinking, reasoning skills and thinking mindset.   These are peer-reviewed, competitive, externally grant-funded projects that are receiving discount pricing from Insight Assessment to support the advancement of thinking skills and mindset:

  • Dr. Christine Cutucache, at the University of Nebraska. This new NSF study will be a multiyear project in STEM education. The CCTST will be used to assess the critical thinking skills of K-8 students.   1929154. “Empowering Academically Talented STEM Undergraduates through Early Experiences in Teaching and Mentoring of K-8 Youth”

  • Dr. Ian Quitadamo, at Central Washington University, uses an instructional approach called Community-Based Inquiry (CBI) to develop faculty expertise in training critical thinking. This NSF funded project trained faculty to build authentic inquiry into their curricula in order to measurably improve students’ critical thinking skills and learning. The CBI approach integrates four main components to elicit improvements in critical thinking skills: 1) authentic inquiry related to community need or student interest, 2) case study exercises, 3) peer evaluation and individual accountability, and 4) lecture/content discussion focused on critical thinking and problem solving. The impact of these reforms in curriculum and instruction on student critical thinking is being measured using the CCTST.  Award Abstract 1023093  Using Community-Based Inquiry to Build Faculty Capacity and Student Critical Thinking

  • Dr. Karen Burg, of Clemson University, another NSF scholar used CCTST to assess the reasoning skills of her study participants. Students involved in the proposed program were immersed in a technically diverse environment including scientists, engineers, and clinicians, and will hone many skills crucial to the 2020 engineer or scientist, including communication, leadership, and teamwork. Through a carefully crafted educational rubric as well as community outreach program, a diverse population of students (K-postgraduate) and educators (K-12) were engaged.  Award Abstract #0736007 – EFRI-CBE: Emerging Frontiers in 3-D Breast Cancer Tissue Test Systems

  • Dr. Michael Bankson at Massasoit Community College in Bronkton, MA, in is using CCTST and CCTDI in this NSF funded project “STEM Scholars Associates” aimed at increasing the number of low-income students who complete associate degrees and enter the STEM workforce either directly or after transferring to a baccalaureate-granting institution.  Abstract #1643585 – STEM Scholars Associates

  • Dr. Linda Johnson at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore used CCTST and CCTDI in an HBCU-UP Targeted Infusion Project that aims to enhance student critical thinking skills and practice through redesign of an entry level biology course. The course redesign incorporates instructional strategies that teach and provide an environment to practice critical thinking. The goals are to enhance faculty expertise in critical thinking instruction, infuse critical thinking in biology curricula using broad-based and discipline-specific pedagogical approaches, and to initiate the development of a resource center for critical thinking efforts and practices for the institution.  Award Abstract #1332568 – Improving Critical Thinking in Underserved Minority Students through Broad-based Explicit and Discipline-specific Pedagogical Approaches

  • Dr. Jason Dowd of Duke University focused his NSF funded study on teaching strategies for undergraduate STEM students in the biological sciences. Training critical thinking was accomplished through writing pedagogical strategies. This project was a collaborative study with the University of Minnesota (Dr. Leslie Schiff, PI).   Award Abstract #1524814  – Collaborative Research: Accelerating the pace of research and implementation of Writing-to-Learn pedagogies across STEM disciplines

  • Dr. John Etienne at St. John’s River College in Florida is working collaboratively with industry partners to increase the practical knowledge, critical thinking skills, and work-readiness of computer science and information technology (CS/IT) graduates to meet local industry demand for highly trained technicians in the CS/IT fields in Northeast Florida by incorporating problem-based learning (PBL) and emphasizing critical thinking throughout the computer education curriculum. Using the Test of Everyday Reasoning (TER) to document critical thinking skills in study participants.  Award Abstract #1565586 Enhancing Critical Reasoning in Computer Education

  • Dr. Rik an Antwerpen at Virginia Union University used the CCTST in a project designed to coach students for academic and professional success in STEM occupations. This HBCU NSF project was designed to reinvigorate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at the Virginia Union University and significantly increase the number of graduates that compete successfully for admission into graduate programs and/or the STEM workforce.  Award Abstract #1238719 Implementation Grant: Coaching for Academic and Professional Success (CAPS) in STEM

  • Dr. Cynthia Blum, Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University conducted a study funded by Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Honor Society and the National League of Nursing. The Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT) was used to assess critical thinking skills in her participant group.  Grant ID # 8177 “Harnessing the Power of the Technological Pedagogical Revolution to Enhance Student Learning Using Podcasts”.

  • Dr. Yara Hilal Jurdi of the American University of Beirut has received a distinguished professional development grant to advance her research in critical thinking in K-12 students. She will use the Arabic language versions of the EDUCATE INSIGHT assessments to measure critical thinking in middle school students in Lebanon.  EQUAL Seed Grant Award from New York University 

  • Dr. Anthony Miller (Shenandoah University) and Dr. Jayne Brahler (University of Dayton) are co-PIs on a project using the HSRT to document the critical thinking skills of students admitted to Physician Assistants programs. This study is aggregating data from a large number of collaborating university programs and will also document gains in critical thinking achieved as a result of the PA training programs.   Grant:  American Association of Physician Assistants

For more information on:

 Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT)

 California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

 California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI)

Test of Everyday Reasoning (TER)


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Insight Assessment: Advancing thinking worldwide

No society, local or global, can sustain itself and flourish without its members learning to think well together.

At Insight Assessment we believe that good thinking is the foundation of success in all endeavors.  We are committed to the advancement of critical thinking worldwide.  To realize that goal, we have developed tools for understanding, measuring and training critical thinking.  

Since our founding in 1986, Insight Assessment have provided our clients with the highest quality in scientifically valid measurement tools, precision analytics, easily interpretable individual and group reports, outstanding customer service, and the industry’s leading testing technology. 

Senior analytics and assessment specialists with research expertise work side by side with highly qualified technical support and customer service personnel to respond to questions and to assist clients with every aspect of their assessment project. 

Contact us us to discuss how Insight Assessment can support your critical thinking research project.h

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