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Critical thinking is the ability to look at multiple sources of information and ask questions.
Critical thinking can be used to determine who to vote for in a campus of national election, what kind of car to buy, and where to apply for a job. Critical thinking can also be used to question an outdated process or procedure, innovate a new approach that solves a particular problem, or respectfully challenge the opinion of a friend, colleague, or teacher.
Those who think critically recognize that both problems and solutions are often context-bound, complex, and changing.
Employers want people who can think outside the box, see a problem from multiple angles, digest multiple, sources of information, and understand the context of a problem and how different actions may or may not be appropriate.
Communities need people who aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo, reflect deeply about who they are (individually, collectively as a community, and collectively as a nation) and who they want to be. Critical thinkers look for the bigger picture and try to understand the complete story to the degree that it is possible.
Carefully crafted rubrics help us to evaluate writing assignments and classroom prompts to see evidence that students are thinking critically, being creative, being innovative, analyzing, and synthesizing multiple sources of information.
If you’re wondering how effective these rubrics could be in properly assessing critical thinking, congratulations, you are thinking critically. Non-quantifiable goals are rarely measured perfectly, and sometimes even quantifiable goals are difficult to measure accurately. UTA’s assessment of Critical Thinking gives us an idea of how students are or are not meeting this objective as evidenced by their ability to explain issues, gather and understand evidence, evaluate context, consider bias and positionality, and make conclusions.
Below are some of our recent reports that explain how we are doing as an institution.