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Office of Assessment

Critical Thinking Project

Project description:

A project involving professionals from academic and student affairs, and students, to design a strategy for the teaching, learning, and assessment of critical thinking (one of five common student learning outcomes for undergraduates) that integrates academic and student affairs.

Long-term goal:

Create a model that can be used at K-State and elsewhere for the integration of academic and student affairs in the teaching/learning/assessment of general education outcomes (for instance, ethical reasoning, social responsibility, or human diversity).

Research questions: 

  1. Can our students (mostly 1st-year) apply the process of critical thinking to an event or experience outside of the classroom? 
  2. Does the inclusion of a practice writing on critical thinking result in better performance by students compared with those who did not have the practice? 
  3. Do students with certain characteristics (for instance, entering ACT, transfer hours, race/ethnicity, sex) perform better on these tasks than others? 
  4. Is there a correlation between performance on the CAAP and the writing assignment? 

Research Design:

The research design will focus on the introduction into already existing classes the completion of a standardized test, critical thinking instruction and practice (1/2 students), and a common assignment that will be scored using a common rubric.  All students will complete a writing assignment in which they apply critical thinking to an event or experience that takes place outside of the classroom


The project will be implemented during the Fall, 2008 semester, with scoring and report generation in the Spring, 2009 semester, with a final report by April 1, 2009.


The intent is to have this project serve as a model for the integration of student affairs and academic affairs for the teaching, learning, and assessment of broad “general education” outcomes.  Next steps might be to refine this project in the following year and/or engage a second K-State learning outcome, for instance, “integrity” (ethical reasoning)