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Critical Thinking Assessment: Classroom Methods for Building Skills

Considering the challenges teachers face in today’s educational environment, one of the responsibilities that teachers face in the 21st century is teaching students to control their (logical) thought processes and critically evaluate the reasoning they find in the content of their academic subjects in various forms. For instance: discussions, informative texts, and activities.

Moreover, teachers may find complex mental skills difficult to implement in real life and teaching them to students is a considerable challenge. In a study conducted by Ocasio& Marzano (2015), the prevalence of different observed content strategies showed that less than (2%) of the actual teaching opportunities include providing opportunities for students to interact with the content of the new material through learning, which is interpreted qualitatively in the highest order.

While it is frequently argued that assessment sits at the heart of the learning process of both types (Summative& Formative), in practice assessment often remains narrowly focused on qualifications and reporting achievements, driven by institutional and societal aspirations and tensions. Yet, the need for assessment to consider balancing the thinking, knowledge, skills, dispositions, and attitudes necessary to equip young people for a changing and increasingly digital world is also increasingly acknowledged. (Burvill et al., 2022).

However, teaching with strict content standards, many academic concepts, and cognitive content that doesn’t support thinking in all its forms is one of the challenges faced by the teacher in the presence of insufficient classes.

(Ocasio& Marzano, 2015) stated that there are several teacher actions or behaviours associated with effective implementation of examining reasoning.

They are listed to illustrate the variety and complexity of ways you can show your students how to identify and articulate errors in logic and reasoning or the structure of an argument as well as explain new insights resulting from this analysis: 1. Identifying critical content for examination by students. 2. Teaching students how to examine and analyse information for errors-or informal fallacies in content or in their own reasoning through directly instructing, modelling, and facilitating. 3. Providing ongoing opportunities for students to identify common errors in logic teaching students how to state and support a claim with grounds, backing, and qualifiers through directly instructing. 4. Teaching students how to analyse errors so they can identify more efficient ways to execute processes. 5. Providing ongoing opportunities for students to learn how to support claims and assertions for those claims in relationship to the evidence.

In sum, assessment methods are a continually evolving system. Indeed, it could be said that an institution or society encapsulates its conceptualisation of learning and aspirations for its future citizens by how it creates and uses assessment.

Although, it can be argued that the purpose of assessing thinking should be to support learning, assessment practically is often focused on qualifications.

The growing importance in many countries of so-called ‘high-stakes’ assessment in recent years as a policy tool to encourage greater competition and accountability between schools and across the education system, has dramatically increased this focus on periodic, summative student performance in terms of overall grades and percentages (Burvill et al., 2022).

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