Critical Thinking Keys and Strategies

Keys & Strategies Critical Thinking Course features learning modules to improve thinking skills
Critical Thinking Keys and Strategies

Critical Thinking Keys and Strategies measures the personal habits of mind and the core reasoning skills which enable a person to be both willing and able think critically. CT Keys and Strategies is an assessment tool, designed to be administered either as a diagnostic or at the conclusion of the training course. . This course level assessment tool is designed to enable individuals (adults, college students, and high school juniors and seniors) to identify their own strengths and opportunities for personal growth in critical thinking. CT Keys and Strategies is used by high school teachers and college professors, guidance counselors, home schoolers, adult re-entry learners, professionals, and academic success consultants.

Population: CT Keys and Strategies is calibrated for high school juniors and seniors, undergraduate students, and adult learners of all ages.

Administration: Keys and Strategies is a course level assessment designed to be used with the Critical Thinking Course Pack. It provides trainees with information about their strengths in reasoning skills and thinking mindset and some direction for focusing their subsequent training efforts. CT Keys and Strategies can be used as a pre-course diagnostic or as post-training “exam” at the preference of the instructor/trainer. Administer at any time, in any location with our user-friendly, encrypted, online, multi-lingual interface.

Support Materials: CT Keys and Strategies User Manual includes all needed information for the administration and interpretation of individual and group scores. A separate CT Keys and Strategies Debrief Document, which client may elect to provide to the persons who are assessed, is available at no additional charge.

Specs: Max 75 minutes timed administration.

  • 25 minutes allotted for 85 Agree-Disagree survey style belief, value, and expectation statements.
  • 50 minutes allotted for 34 engaging scenario-based reasoning skill demonstration questions.

Deliverables: For classroom instructors, group graphics with statistical summary of scores; Excel spreadsheet of responses of all custom questions, and all scores for each person tested. Individual score reports detailing for each test-taker their own results on each metric assessed. Optional CT Keys and Strategies debriefing document.

Results Reported (Actionable Metrics):

  • Key Critical Thinking Habits of Mind
  1. Truth-seeking — Courageously seeking the best possible understanding of any given situation
  2. Organization – Taking a systematic and persistent approach to problem solving
  3. Open-Mindedness – Tolerance toward the opinions of others, allowing them to voice their views
  4. Judgment – The habit of seeking to make thoughtful, timely, and informed judgments
  5. Foresight – Approaching problems with a view toward anticipating consequences
  6. Intellectual Honesty – A commitment to trustworthiness and honesty in inquiry and communication
  7. Confidence in Reasoning – Being trustful of conclusions reached by reflective, informed thinking
  8. Inventiveness –Resourcefulness and self-reliance in response to opportunities and problems.
  • OVERALL Reasoning Skills – Sustained use of critical thinking to form reasoned judgments
  • Strategic Critical Thinking Skills and an OVERALL rating:
  1. Reasoning in Uncertainty – Critical thinking in ambiguous, risky, and uncertain contexts
  2. Reasoning with Precision – Critical thinking in precisely defined, logically rigorous contexts
  3. Analytical Reasoning – – Accurate identification of the problem and decision-critical elements
  4. Evaluative Reasoning – Assessing the credibility of claims and the strength of arguments
  5. Quantitative Reasoning – Critical thinking in contexts involving numerical information


  • Each college success mindset attribute is scored on 60-point scale divided into three qualitative categories: Negative, Inconsistent, Positive.
  • Each strategic critical thinking skill metric is scored on a 100-point scale with five corresponding qualitative ratings (Not Manifested, Weak, Moderate, Strong, and Superior).

Optional Custom Questions: At no additional cost educational institutions and other organizational clients purchasing multiple use group licenses can add up to ten client-specific custom descriptive survey questions to the assessment profile to enable sub-group reports.

Culturally Competent Translations: English

Group Licenses to Administer: Sold globally to public and private educational institutions, teachers, professors, and home school directors; DOE, NSF, NIH, RWJ and other grant-funded projects; higher education program evaluation consultants, guidance counselors; doctoral dissertation scholars; and other government and agency level entities.

Individual Use License: Until CT Keys and Strategies becomes available for purchase through our app, contact us directly about individual use licenses for personal development purposes.

For group license clients, comprehensive assessment support services are available to not-for-profit educational organizations, government agencies, NGOs, dissertation scholars, and funded research clients.

Starting with an initial consultation to learn about your project, our experienced assessment specialists support your project in multiple ways. 

  • Instrument selection: (e.g., the academic assessment instrument which best fits the educational level and broad subject matter area of the individuals to be assessed.) No additional charge.
  • Administration strategies: (e.g., anonymous or with personal identifiers, the use of client-specific questions, the possibility of group sampling to achieve an aggregated group profile, etc.) No additional charge.
  • Privacy Protection: We assist the client with privacy protection strategies, including, if needed, completely anonymous double-blind assessments. No additional charge.
  • Assessment logistics: (e.g., assessing program applicants onsite or remotely, gathering pretest or posttest learning outcomes data, generating individual or group logins.) No additional charge.
  • Introducing client-specific custom questions: Clients can enable organizing, managing, and analyzing the assessment data that they plan to collect by introducing up to ten client-designed profile questions. We assist clients with this process. No additional charge.
  • Client assessment administration setup: We orient the client to the use of their assessment administration interface (e.g., We walk the client through basic processes of creating a testing assignment including designating the start and ending dates, electing the option to display on screen assessment results to the individual test-taker) New client setup charge.
  • Report Generation: We orient clients on the use of the online report generation tool that produces customized group reports, aggregating and disaggregating data by the demographic variables they have collected (e.g., Training group, admission cohort, school, program, or any other custom question data that the client may have included) Included with new client setup.
  • 24/7/365 emergency technical support for our client testing administrators. No charge.

We demonstrate how easy it is to administer assessments even to very young students using our intuitive, browser-based, multilingual online testing system on almost any device: computer, tablet, or smartphone.  No additional charge.

In addition to the full user manual included with each assessment instrument, preview packages enable future clients to experience the intended assessment tool in exactly the same way it will be used in their planned project. User manual and logins are included with purchase of preview pack.

Seven College Student Success Mindset Attributes

  • Truth-seeking: Truth-seeking is the habit of always desiring the best possible understanding of any given situation; it is following reasons and evidence wherever they may lead, even if they lead one to question cherished beliefs. Truth-seekers ask hard, sometimes even frightening questions; they do not ignore relevant details; they strive not to let bias or preconception color their search for knowledge and truth. The opposite of truth-seeking is bias which ignores good reasons and relevant evidence in order not to have to face difficult ideas.
  • Organization: An organized person takes a systematic approach to problem solving. Higher scores indicate someone who is persistent, orderly, and comprehensive in working through problems.
  • Open-mindedness: Open-mindedness is the tendency to allow others to voice views with which one may not agree. Open-minded people act with tolerance toward the opinions of others, knowing that often we all hold beliefs which make sense only from our own perspectives. Open-mindedness, as used here, is important for harmony in a pluralistic and complex society where people approach issues from different religious, political, social, family, cultural, and personal backgrounds. The opposite of open-mindedness is intolerance.
  • Judgment: A person with judgment seeks multiple perspectives on any given idea or issue. This person strives to avoid taking an “all-or-nothing” approach. When a decision is needed urgently, a person with good judgment will decide, but when there is more time the person with good judgment will give the matter fuller consideration. A person with good judgment is willing to reconsider decisions if new information comes to light.
  • Foresight: Foresight is the habit of approaching problems with a view toward anticipating consequences and outcomes. A foresightful person values clarity and the accurate interpretation of complex problem situations. Individuals who strongly manifest foresight value getting the problem right, understanding the reasons pro and con, and projecting the likely outcomes of various options.
  • Honorable: Honorable individuals conduct themselves with integrity, honesty, ethics, and truthfulness. Higher scores indicate a commitment to trustworthiness and honesty in communication and behavior. Trustworthiness, honorable behavior, and personal integrity are very important for placement in leadership and high risk or unsupervised positions.
  • Confidence in Reasoning: Confidence in reasoning is the habitual tendency to trust reflective thinking to solve problems and to make decisions. As with the other attributes measured here, confidence in reasoning applies to individuals and to groups. A family, team, office, community, or society can be trustful of reasoned judgment as the means of solving problems and reaching goals. The opposite habit is mistrust of reasoning, often manifested as aversion to the use of careful reason and reflection when making decisions or deciding what to believe or do.
  • Inventive: An inventive person is driven to respond to opportunities and emerging needs with a broad sense of what might possible. Higher scores indicate an expectation of personal creativity, resourcefulness, and self-reliance regarding accomplishing goals.

Essential College Student Success Reasoning Skills

  • OVERALL Reasoning Skills: The CT Strategies Overall score describes overall strength in using reasoning to analyze, interpret, evaluate, integrate, and comprehend information presented in texts and with charts and graphs. High CT Strategies Overall scores are achieved by people who excel in the sustained, focused, and integrated application of the reasoning strategies measured on this test. This score is the best indicator of a person’s intellectual capacity to achieve deep learning now and in the future.
  • Reasoning in Uncertainty: Reasoning well in contexts of uncertainty and ambiguity is critical for college level learners. A strong score on this scale indicates excellence in the core reasoning skill of drawing well warranted, justified inferences in situations involving probabilistic inductive reasoning, comparative this-is-like-that reasoning, empirical facts-up-to-theories reasoning, and in situations requiring value judgments. Strengths in this domain enable the problem solver to find the solution that has the strongest likelihood of success, given the information at hand.
  • Reasoning with Precision: Reasoning in precise, tightly defined contexts requires strong analytical and inference skills to determine exact logical consequences given a specified set of assumptions or conditions. Deductive reasoning plays a critical role when reasoning in precise contexts. Strengths in this domain enable the problem solver to see the applications and the implications of information, assumptions, directives, policies, regulations, and protocols which both shape and constrain possible outcomes.
  • Analytical Reasoning: Analytical skills are used to identify and clarify the problem at hand. Analytical skills enable us to consider key elements, including assumptions, reasons, themes, and the evidence used in making arguments or offering explanations. Getting the problem right requires identifying the elements which comprise the problem and determining how those elements relate to one another. People with strong analytical skills notice important patterns and details. People use analysis to gather the most relevant information from spoken language, documents, signs, charts, graphs, and diagrams.
  • Evaluative Reasoning: Evaluative skills are used to assess the credibility of the claims people make or post, and to assess the quality of the reasoning people display when they make arguments or give explanations. We can also apply our evaluation skills to assess the quality of many other elements that are important for good thinking, such as analyses, interpretations, explanations, inferences, options, opinions, beliefs, hypotheses, proposals, and decisions. People with strong evaluation skills can judge the quality of arguments and the credibility of speakers and writers.
  • Quantitative Reasoning – Numeracy: Quantitative reasoning (Numeracy) refers to the ability to solve quantitative reasoning problems and to make well-reasoned judgments in a variety of quantitative contexts. More than being able to compute a solution to a mathematical equation, numeracy includes the understanding of how quantitative information is gathered, manipulated, represented, and communicated verbally and visually, such as in texts, graphs, charts, tables, and diagrams.

If group licenses are purchased, group analytics include:Images from Insight Assessment Group Reports

  • Clients can generate and downloadable Excel spreadsheet files of all scores (OVERALL and all cognitive score metrics. At the option of the client, these also include the responses to optional custom questions added by the client to the assessment profile, and percentile score corresponding to the external comparison group selected by the client.
  • Presentation ready tables and graphic representation of the score distribution for OVERALL critical thinking skills and for the additional cognitive skill metrics.
  • Organizational and institutional clients who have added group designation custom questions can generate sub-group level reports for these variables, or for specific testing sessions or time periods.   

Individual Reports include:Sample report showing Individual report on critical thinking attributes test (CCTDI)

  • Each work critical thinking key habit of mind is scored on 60-point scale divided into qualitative categories: Strong Negative, Negative, Inconsistent, Positive, Strong Positive. 
  • Each strategic critical thinking skill metric is scored on a 100-point scale with five corresponding qualitative ratings (Not Manifested, Weak, Moderate, Strong, and Superior).
  • The Individual Report are be pushed as PDF files to an email address of the client’s choosing, e.g., to school or departmental office. 
  • Organizational and institutional clients can control whether individual reports are made available to the test-taker.
  • Optional, free upon request, a short PDF assessment report debrief document, which can be distributed by the client to the people who were assessed.

Need to expedite your project?  We can have your first online testing assignment available for your students within 24 hours. Contact us today or get started by calling 650-697-5628 and speaking with one of our assessment specialists today.

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