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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Critical Thinking Rubric -- How do you assess CT? -- Part I

Mind map of Bloom's Revised Digital Taxonomy

I found this map about CT based on Bloom's Taxonomy at .

I think it is useful to our discussion of assessing CT or creating a rubric.  I think it is so pertinent, in fact, that I am considering organizing each unit of my class in steps based on this map.  I like that it breaks each skill into synonymous verbs.  I also think it is useful because it illuminates the essential problem.  The essential problem is that "lower level" thinking is easy to grade.  "Higher Level" thinking is what we all profess, but it creates a lot of work for us.  The work is not in the grading, per se.  It is in the learning.  We have to learn a great deal of new skills, both critical and technological, in order to grade these Higher Level skills that we all seem to want.  We have to exhibit "Higher Level" thinking in the delivery of content and the assessment of student work.

Put simply, it is easy to grade vocabulary or arithmetic.  It is either right or wrong.  It becomes increasingly difficult to assign a grade to "Higher Level" work beyond simple participation.  In other words, it is fabulous that a student would create a video as an end result, historical document that evidences knowledge, analysis and application of the subject matter.  Does one assess the video for subject matter, effort, quality, personal development, time, participation?  Few of us know how to assess the quality of a creative product fairly (with the exception of the arts folks).  What's more, the course is not in video production or blogging, so why is production quality of a creative endeavor part of student's grade for a course in Biology or Macro-economics, for example?

My answer to that question is two-fold:  1) Production quality demonstrates effort, self-evaluation, and caring; 2) Video production, blogging, video conferencing, texting, and whatever else is out there are all pertinent skills for the 21st century work force.  Still, is it fair that someone gets an A and another student gets a C based on there artistic inclinations and prior creative skill sets?


  1. I have been looking at a number of rubrics, and, so far, I do not really see the issue addressed. Most list a bunch of critical thinking terms and ask, is this evidenced?

    Clearly, developing a standardized rubric is a useful idea. I will incorporate more than one rubric, however, specific to different projects and units.

    The most basic and uniform idea in all of this is that we need to give the students precise and achievable expectations.

  2. I think you have captured some of the dilemma with incorporating critical thinking in the classroom: providing precise, clear, achievable expectations for our students. We have now had more than a month of wonderful discussion about critical thinking, but we still have not put on paper just what we expect our students to do. It's a tough issue, but if we don't identify those concrete behaviors or products, then we will have great difficulty convincing the students that we are talking about something real.