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Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines

Volume 30, Issue 3, Fall 2015

Ada Haynes, Elizabeth Lisic, Kevin Harris, Katie Leming, Kyle Shanks, Barry Stein
Pages 38-48

Using the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) as a Model for Designing Within-Course Assessments
Changing How Faculty Assess Student Learning

This article provides a brief overview of the efforts to develop and refine the Critical thinking Assessment Test (CAT) and its potential for improving the design of classroom assessments. The CAT instrument was designed to help faculty understand their students’ strengths and weaknesses using a short answer essay format. The instrument assesses a broad collection of critical thinking skills that transcend most disciplines. The questions were deliberately designed around real-world scenarios that did not require specialized knowledge from any particular discipline. Various faculty who collaborated in the national dissemination of the CAT instrument found that it was a helpful model for designing better course assessments to grade student work. Classroom assessments modeled on the CAT emphasize more critical thinking within the discipline and less rote retention of factual information. We describe the ongoing work to help faculty successfully adapt the CAT to applications that can be used in each discipline’s courses to evaluate and encourage students’ critical thinking.

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