Critical Thinking Problem Solving

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving

Lane's Assessment Team continues to assess critical thinking and problem solving skills across disciplines, using artifacts of student learning that are routine assignments in existing courses. This general education assessment effort assumes that critical thinking skills are developed over the course of a student's curriculum at Lane. By examining entry level and exit level artifacts of student learning, we expect to learn to what extent student skills in critical thinking and problem solving are developed at Lane.

Assurances to Students:

  • Students participate anonymously.
  • Submitted artifacts will be recorded by L number only for purposes of sorting entry level and exit level students (IRAP will conduct the sort).
  • Submitted artifacts will be reviewed by faculty and deans outside the area of study.
  • This assessment is independent of the student's grade, which will be awarded by the class instructor.
  • Paper copies of student artifacts will be destroyed at the end of the assessment cycle to protect anonymity of students; other artifacts will be returned to the class instructor during finals week of the term they are submitted.

Assurances to faculty:

  • Faculty are invited (not required) to submit artifacts.
  • Results of the assessment will not be used for faculty evaluation.
  • Results will not be reported by CRN or by L#, but at the institutional level.
  • Reports of results will occur in Fall term following the assessment year.
  • Faculty will have opportunities to discuss overall (institutional) results of the assessment, but discipline level results will not be a product of this assessment.

Process for faculty submitting artifacts:

  • Provide copies of artifacts with L#s, but without grades or comments. (Division deans may have resources to help provide copies and return originals to faculty.)
  • Submit class sets to IRAP.
  • Participating faculty are welcome to join in scoring sessions during spring term.

Artifacts submitted should meet the following criteria:

  • Artifact size: if a written artifact, one page minimum, ideally about three pages;
  • if a video, three to five minutes; if a physical artifact (sculpture, painting, etc.) the artifact must be easily accessible to the evaluation team.
  • Assignment as given to students must accompany artifact.
  • Assignment should meet all four content criteria sections listed below.

Critical Thinking/Problem Solving Assignment - Content Criteria

The assignment requires the student to demonstrate at least one cognitive skill for each of the four sections below:

Section 1. Identify the challenge presented or the problem to be solved.

The student's response to the assignment should do at least one of the following:
demonstrate a clear understanding of the assignment's purpose

  • clearly identify the challenge or problem
  • accurately identify core issues
  • appreciate the depth and breadth of the challenge or problem

Section 2. Analyze, review, organize, contextualize, and/or collect information about the challenge or problem.

The student's response to the assignment should do at least one of the following:

  • understand/explore/consider multiple perspectives
  • identify and evaluate relevant significant points of view
  • examine relevant points of view fairly, empathetically
  • gather sufficient, credible, relevant information: observations, statements, logic, data, facts, questions, graphs, themes, assertions, descriptions, etc.
  • include information that opposes as well as supports the argued position
  • identify and accurately explain/use relevant key concepts
  • accurately identify assumptions (things taken for granted)
  • make assumptions that are consistent, reasonable, and valid

Section 3. Develop possible solutions to the challenge or problem.

The student's response to the assignment should do at least one of the following:

  • distinguish between information and inferences drawn from that information
  • Propose solutions, develop hypotheses, or develop a thesis
  • follow where evidence and reason lead in order to obtain defensible, thoughtful, logical conclusions or solutions
  • make deep rather than superficial inferences
  • make inferences that are consistent with each other

Section 4. Analyze, evaluate, and/or apply selected solutions to the challenge or problem.

The student's response to the assignment should do at least one of the following:

  • identify the most significant implications and consequences of the reasoning
  • (whether positive and/or negative)
  • distinguish probable from improbable implications
  • evaluate own performance and present solutions using effective organization, format, and/or structure