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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring 2015

Charles E. Galyon, Carolyn A. Blondin, Robert L. Williams
Pages 24-39

A Historical Analysis of the Relationship between Critical Thinking and Exam Performance

This study determined the historical relationship between critical thinking and performance on multiple-choice exams in a large entry-level educational psychology course. The correlations be­tween critical thinking as assessed by scores on the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal-S and exam scores ranged from .29 to.44 over a 12-year period (N of 4933). The critical thinking distribution was heavily skewed toward the lower end of the percentile range when compared to normative data for college graduates. The relationship between critical thinking and exam performance approximated a linear relationship, with periodic plateaus in exam scores. Com­parison of exam performance for students scoring at the 1st versus the 99th percentile revealed a letter-grade difference. Additionally, students scoring at the 75th percentile on critical thinking achieved exam scores that did not differ significantly from those of students scoring at the 95th and 99th percentile on critical thinking. Critical thinking predicted exam scores better at higher than lower levels of Grade Point Average.

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