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Center for Teaching and Learning

Focused Inquiry Groups (FIGs) - Title III

Critical Thinking

Area of Inquiry

The purpose of this faculty inquiry group (FIG) was to assess one of the college-wide learning outcomes, critical thinking, in a variety of disciplines, using common rubrics.  The FIG  had two lines of inquiry - it piloted two different rubrics, one for a holistic assessment of critical thinking, and one for a more detailed assessment of different aspects of critical thinking, to see which one would be more useful for faculty across the disciplines in assessing critical thinking.  In addition, the group provided the first glimpse at the status of student learning of critical thinking across the college, and discussed possible reasons for the results.  

Discoveries to Date

The Fall 2008 FIG participants discovered that both rubrics were valuable tools for assessing critical thinking, and they could be used at the same time and still provide valuable cross-disciplinary data.  The use of one or the other rubric depended on the subject and assessment style of the instructor, and it was recommended that both should be used across campus for critical thinking.  All of the participants felt that the rubrics helped them clarify, for themselves and for their students, the levels of assessment that they usually kept in their head.

Levels of critical thinking varied among the classes of these instructors - in some disciplines, there was a critical threshold which most students did not attain; in others, all of the students attained a high level of critical thinking; in others it was more mixed. It cautioned us about trying to summarize across the campus, but the discussion about the varying levels of critical thinking provided rich insights about how different instructors approached critical thinking as a learning outcome.  Although not a requirement of this pilot FIG, some of the instructors assessed students at the beginning and end of the semester, and they saw growth in learning.   For more details see the attached document on the final discussions among these faculty.


Members - Fall 2008

  • Jason Ames - Speech Communications
  • Dennis Chowenhill - English
  • Desmund Chun - Computer Science
  • Aldrian Estepa - Psychology
  • Scott Hildreth - Astronomy
  • Ming-Lun Ho - Math
  • Patti Keeling - Speech Communications
  • Kathy Kelley - Early Childhood Development
  • Michelle Sherry - Early Childhood Development
  • Wayne Phillips - Electronics
  • Wayne Pitcher - Chemistry
  • Anita Wah - Math
  • Steve Woodhams - English



Critical Thinking Rubric - Holistic (pdf)

Critical Thinking Rubric - Detailed (pdf)

Critical Thinking Links

Presentations from Flex-day, February 12, 2009



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