Texas A&M University System Student Learning Outcome–Critical Thinking
The Texas A&M University System delivers a common set/embraces a common view of important outcomes and is accountable for sustained measurement.
For all TAMU System universities, the rationale for assessing student learning outcomes (SLOs) originates primarily from efforts to maintain institutional effectiveness, which is defined as a process of identifying outcomes, assessing the extent to which they are achieved, and providing evidence of improvement based on their analysis.
Upon completion of their degree program, students will be able to demonstrate critical thinking, including the ability to explain issues; find, analyze, and select appropriate evidence; and construct a cogent argument that articulates conclusions and their consequences. Students will be able to utilize, qualitative and quantitative reasoning as a base for problem solving.
All criteria met and results exceed expectations with little room for improvement.
Most criteria met and results indicate mastery of objective with some room for improvement.
Acceptable number of criteria met and results meet expectations with room for improvement.
Some criteria met and results indicate need for improvement.
Few criteria met; results indicate need for significant improvement or no/insufficient results reported to measure performance of objective.
Assessment of Critical Thinking at TAMU-T currently includes: (a) results from annual program learning outcomes assessment in undergraduate majors that aligned with Critical Thinking; (b) results from the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA+); (c) results of specific survey items from the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) that are aligned with Critical Thinking perceptions; and (d) results of specific survey items from our Graduating Student Survey (GSS) that are aligned with Critical Thinking perceptions.
Results from available program learning outcomes assessment showed students met or exceeded standards set by the most of the programs. Results for the CLA+ revealed a Critical Reading & Evaluation Score of 640 (senior). For the NSSE, 83% of students indicated that TAMU-T contributed "Very Much" or "Quite a Bit" towards their personal critical thinking development. Results from the GSS indicated that the percentage of students who Agreed or Strongly Agreed that TAMU-T contributed to their development of various competencies was: (a) 83.7% on an item focused on discriminating among degrees of credibility, accuracy, and reliability; (b) 91.5% on an item focused on recognizing assumptions in sources; (c) 82.8% on an item focused on constructing arguments; and (d) 88.4% on an item focused on justifying conclusions.
Overall, these results indicate that students' critical thinking performance is proficient at TAMUT. For our direct assessments, no freshmen completed the CLA+. Although the senior score met the acceptable student performance standard (541), only one student participated in the CLA+. Furthermore, in majors programs, seniors met or exceeded the standards set by most of the reporting programs in discipline-specific assessments. In terms of indirect assessments, students met the standard (which is currently set at 70% for both the NSSE and the GSS) and sometimes met the ideal standard (currently set at 85%).
1) We will work with program faculty to articulate the impact of Critical Thinking within their majors; 2) Training materials, workshops, or other resources will be developed and/or planned to help increase or maintain faculty competency of Critical Thinking (and assessment approaches to Critical Thinking); and 3) We will continue to use the NSSE & GSS and monitor items aligned with Critical Thinking.
In order to increase participation in standardized Critical Thinking assessments (such as the CLA+), TAMUT will investigate Ets HEIghten as a possible alternative to the CLA+. HEIghten offers a Critical Thinking assessment that is significantly less time-consuming than the CLA+, and this could encourage more participation in standardized Critical Thinking assessments.