We cannot in such a context test for abilities to elucidate judicious value judgments about sensitive topics, to find underlying metaphysical or social assumptions, or identify mechanical or aesthetic flaws not easily characterized in words.Nor can we handle material incorporating and exploiting subtle nuances of meaning.
We cannot in such a context test for abilities to elucidate judicious value judgments about sensitive topics, to find underlying metaphysical or social assumptions, or identify mechanical or aesthetic flaws not easily characterized in words.
Sadly some who respond seem carelessly unaware of decades of work by informal logicians and argumentation theorists, substituting instead their own sense that they themselves are competent critical thinkers. If we are going to claim to teach critical thinking, we will want to check out our claims.
On standard accounts, this would involve testing students for critical thinking abilities or skills.
Given the common requirement to indicate critical thinking skills and dispositions on a mechanically test of about 50 minutes in length, there are restrictions.
Questions must be about fairly manageable issues requiring only limited background material and they must be worded so as not to be open to different interpretations.
When this chapter was written, I was concerned about social and institutional demands for quickly obtainable quantifiable results that would measure something as fundamental and important as critical thinking skills.
I wondered whether there was something rather absurd about the idea that people should be asked to demonstrate, in short and clear order, their capacity to think critically – and also something absurd about the notion that philosophers should engage in constructing tests to do just that.With instructors feeling a need to demonstrate the effectiveness of their teaching, there are hundreds of critical thinking tests.It would be a massive task to comment on their merits; obviously this chapter is at best of limited relevance years after it was written.They have to be clear cut and expressible in brief phrases.They cannot presume much background knowledge about any particular substantive issue unless those to whom the test is to be given can be expected to have uniform knowledge on that matter – a condition which would rarely be met in practice.Nor have they received the political attention given to I. Since these tests are based on the idea that critical thinking ability is something teachable and acquired by students, rather than something fixed which might be inherited and racially or sexually linked, the context in which they have been developed is radically different from that underlying I. comments received a surprised, but sympathetic response from many philosophers.A seminar on the tests, in which Mc Peck exchanged comments with Robert Ennis, creator of the well-established Cornell tests, stimulated considerable interest at a symposium on informal logic.Other critical thinking or reasoning skills tests are aimed at much younger students, in elementary schools, and some are designed to be used at various ages ranging from elementary to senior high school.Critical thinking tests have, until recently, been given relatively little scrutiny and analysis from philosophers. A recent article in magazine, scathing in its comments on tests marketed by the American Educational Testing Service and the social attitudes generating a demand for them, had not a word to say about critical thinking tests.The material used must not be susceptive to a variety of interpretations; interesting figures of speech, irony and sarcasm, and suggestive ambiguities will have to be avoided.Thus tests almost always use invented passages rather than real ones.