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Assessing Critical Thinking in Higher Education: Current State and Directions for Next-Generation Assessment

Liu, Ou Lydia; Frankel, Lois; Roohr, Katrina Crotts
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Critical Thinking, Next Generation Assessment, Learning Outcomes, Student Learning, Higher Education


Critical thinking is one of the most important skills deemed necessary for college graduates to become effective contributors in the global workforce. The first part of this article provides a comprehensive review of its definitions by major frameworks in higher education and the workforce, existing assessments and their psychometric qualities, and challenges surrounding the design, implementation, and use of critical thinking assessment. In the second part, we offer an operational definition that is aligned with the dimensions of critical thinking identified from the reviewed frameworks and discuss the key assessment considerations when designing a next-generation critical thinking assessment. This article has important implications for institutions that are currently using, planning to adopt, or designing an assessment of critical thinking.

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