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INQUIRY: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines Vol. 28 No. 3 (Fall 2013)
Table of Contents
From the Editor's Desk
How best to assess the impact of efforts to teach critical thinking? That question has long been a concern to educators, and how to validly assess the critical thinking abilities of employees is increasingly a matter of concern to employers. To address these concerns the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment (HCTA) was created by Dr. Diane Halpern, one of the nation’s foremost experts on teaching critical thinking. Diane has authored a widely-used critical thinking textbook, Thought and Knowledge, that is now in its fifth edition, but that is just one of her many accomplishments, among them is having served as President of the American Psychological Association. The HCTA assesses five dimensions of critical thinking: verbal reasoning, argument analysis, thinking as hypothesis testing, likelihood and uncertainty, and decision making and problem solving. On her website for the test, Diane says “The HCTA is unique because it is the only test of critical thinking that uses multiple response formats, which allow test takers to demonstrate their ability to think about everyday topics using both constructed responses and recognition formats.” (See the webpage at: https://sites.google.com/site/dianehalperncmc//home/research/halpern-critical-thinking-assessment)
The HCTA Test Manual available at the same page gives information about the extensive efforts that went into developing and validating the HCTA, and in this issue we further those efforts by having four reviews of the HCTA and Diane’s responses to the reviews. We are fortunate to have as reviewers two philosophers who are very knowledgeable about assessing critical thinking, Kevin Possin and Donald Hatcher, and also two psychologists with a deep interest in critical thinking, Dan Fakso and Jeff Anastasi. Each of the reviewers was generously granted access to the HCTA, and each recorded his thoughts about issues ranging from the validity of particular items on the HCTA to questions of practicality. Without exception the reviews are very informative and raise thought-provoking issues.
Once all four reviews were in hand, Diane then crafted a response that addressed the issues they raised. I feel that the reader will see that this exchange is clearly an example of the reasoned give-and-take that is essential to critical thinking in its social dimension. The reviews and the response are rich sources, not just about the HCTA, but also for anyone interested in questions about assessing critical thinking.
Continuing the assessment theme, Michiel Zyl, Cathy Bays, and Cheryl Gilchrist recount their efforts to validate inventories of critical thinking, the Learning Critical Thinking Inventory (LCTI) and the Teaching Critical Thinking Inventory (TCTI), which can be used to assess critical thinking instruction.
Finally, Marallee Harrell in her review of THiNK, the critical thinking textbook by Judith Boss, gives a number of pointed reasons to bolster her assessment that “Boss’ book serves as a cautionary tale for publishers who seemingly allow their marketing departments to drive the look, feel and content of their textbooks.”
Professor of Philosophy
Department of Psychology and Philosophy
Sam Houston State University
Huntsville, TX 77341-2447