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November 4 2006

E-Coaching Tip 27: A Rubric for Analyzing Critical Thinking

Last week's tip explored ideas for creating discussion posts that invite reflection and responses from the students. Last week's tip also encourage reflecting on the particular purpose for each of your discussion post.

Every success is often followed by another challenge! If you have developed a wonderfully effective post and the students start responding thoughtfully and expansively, your existing rubric for analyzing the discussions might not be as robust as you would like it to be.

Here is a rubric that has been custom-designed for analyzing critical thinking responses. You may find some of the content useful to you for refining your rubric. This rubric has defined seven (7) criteria for evaluating a learner's progress in developing critical thinking skills. The rubric then matches examples of "Emerging critical thinking skills" and "Mastering critical thinking skills" with each of the seven criteria. As you might expect, this set of examples also becomes a mother lode of instructions to students.

So, if you are now refining, reviewing some of the projects -- either at the beginning of your course -- or at the point of more reflection, you may find this rubric valuable. Good directions can help model and shape the development of critical thinking skills.

The Critical Thinking Rubric

This rubric is part of the section on "Good Practices for Student Assessment" at the University College/Dublin Centre for Teaching and Learning and is freely available online. The main contributor to the assessment section is Dr. Geraldine O'Neill. <www.ucd.ie/teaching/goodPracticeAssessment.html> You may want to explore the related areas on teaching and learning at this site as well.

Here are the seven criteria in the Critical Thinking Rubric. Responses that indicate growth in critical thinking skills include the following. A student developing critical thinking skills does the following:

  1. Identifies and summarizes the problem/question at issue
  2. Identifies and presents the students' own hypothesis, perspective and position as it is important to the analysis of the issue
  3. Identifies and considers other salient perspectives and positions that are important to the analysis.
  4. Identifies and assesses the key assumptions
  5. Identifies and assesses the quality of supporting data/evidence and provides additional data/evidence related to the issue.
  6. Identifies and considers the influence of the context * on the issue.
  7. Identifies and assesses conclusions, implications and consequences.

Examples of Criteria for "Emerging" and "Mastering" Critical Thinking

Each of the seven criteria has examples of "emerging" and "mastering" critical thinking skills. Here are the "emerging" and "mastering" examples for Criteria 4, Identifying and assessing the key assumptions. Be sure to use the above link to see the full set of examples for the seven criteria.

Example of Criteria for "Emerging" Critical Thinking

  • Does not surface the assumptions and ethical issues that underlie the issue, or does so *superficially

Example of Criteria "Mastering" Critical Thinking

  • Identifies and questions the validity of the assumptions and addresses the ethical dimensions that underlie the issue

Reminder about Horizon-Wimba -- Have You Tried Listening to a Podcast Yet?

This is just a quick reminder. You now have a great tool for audio synchronous communications with your students. If you have not yet taken the training to use this tool, do not delay! Info on how to do that follows below.

  1. Send an email to bbsupport@duq.edu and request to be enrolled in the "Horizon Wimba Support Site". It takes one (1) business day for the request to be processed. Once you are enrolled, the link appears in your "My Courses" section when you login to Blackboard.
  2. When you have 15-20 minutes for your personal learning, then, go to that site and select either a couple of docs to print or view one of the recorded demos. The site also helps you check out your computer to see if you are set for audio/speech.

If you want to just try a bit of audio, go to the Scientific American podcast site and access or download the podcast from August 30 2006 on "The Teen Brain." The section on the teen brain is only about 6 minutes. It is particularly enlightening if you have any interactions with teenagers in your life -- and will give you something to talk with them about! <podcast.sciam.com/weekly/sa_podcast_060830.mp3>

Or if you don't have any teenagers, you may want to try the short interview <podcast.sciam.com/weekly/sa_podcast_060802.mp3> with Phil Ross, the author of "The Expert Mind" who discusses how to achieve expertise in virtually any field. He discusses the concept of "effortful study," which is work that involves constant self-grading, and the probability that it takes about 10 years to develop expertise in a given field. (Just about the amount of time to earn a Ph.D! <podcast.sciam.com/weekly/sa_podcast_060802.mp3>

Remember, you can just click a podcast file and play it on your computer. You may want to use a set of headphones so you don't disturb anyone else. Or you can download the podcast file and transfer it to your iPod or other mp3 player and listen to it in your car or wherever. As you listen to one of these podcasts, consider how you and your students might use them to develop expertise in your field!

Invitation to Chat

The area of assessment of student learning, particularly within the context of the online collaborative environment, is beginning to garner more attention from practitioners. Do you have a specific question, problem, or puzzle in this area of assessment that you would like to have an answer to, or a strategy that works really well for you?


Goodyear, Peter. (2002) "Psychological foundations for networked learning." Networked learning: perspectives and issues. Pp. 49-75 2002. Springer-Verlag. New York, Inc.

E-Coaching Tip 27: A Rubric for Analyzing Critical Thinking



Ecoaching Table of Contents



Revised May 20 2013
Copyright Judith V. Boettcher, 1997-2013