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Monday, October 25, 2010

Scoring Rubric for Critical Thinking

The rubric below came from:

And specifically from:
"Peter Facione and Noreen Facione have developed the four-level Holistic Critical Thinking Scoring Rubric to assess the critical thinking skills and some of the dispositions identified by the Delphi project as these skills are demonstrated by by students in essays, projects, presentations, clinical practices, and such. The Facione and Facione Holistic Scoring Rubric (1994) is copied below and is available free, with a page of instructions, at"

This is typical of the rubrics that I have found.  I think it is useful for the most part.  I like that it is broken down into 4 levels that easily correspond to the traditional grading scale.  One problem that I have with many of these rubrics is that they seem to be based on the Toulman method of argument.  Warrants, claims, and evidence are all the Toulman terms.   My students have not been instructed in logical argument, and I can only teach so much.  While they may get it as a kind of secondary objective, if they don't know what a "warrant" is (and it is not a simple thing to explain) then a rubric like this one cannot be used as a peer assessment or self assessment tool.

 Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
Identifies the salient arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con.
Thoughtfully analyzes and evaluates major alternative points of view.
Draws warranted, judicious, non-fallacious conclusions.
Justifies key results and procedures, explains assumptions and reasons.
Fair-mindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead.
3  Does most or many of the following:
Accurately interprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
Identifies relevant arguments (reasons and claims) pro and con.
Offers analyses and evaluations of obvious alternative points of view.
Justifies some results or procedures, explains reasons.
Fairmindedly follows where evidence and reasons lead
 Does most or many of the following:
Misinterprets evidence, statements, graphics, questions, etc.
Fails to identify strong, relevant counter-arguments.
Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of view.
Justifies few results or procedures, seldom explains reasons.
Regardless of the evidence or reasons maintains or defends views based on self-interest or preconceptions.
1  Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
Offers biased interpretations of evidence, statements, graphics, questions, information, or the points of view of others.
Fails to identify or hastily dismisses strong, relevant counter-arguments.
Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of view
Argues using fallacious or irrelevant reasons, and unwarranted claims.
Regardless of the evidence or reasons, maintains or defends views based on  self-interest or preconceptions.
Exhibits close-mindedness or hostility to reason

I like the following rubric from WSU because it breaks down each level as "emerging" and "mastering."  It seems more positive than the Falcione model.  I also like the "Contexts for Consideration" component.  Our Art Appreciation test, The Making and Meaning of Art by Laurie Schneider Adams, includes a chapter on "Methodologies" that discusses Formalistic, Marxist, Feminist, Structuralist, Post-Structuralist, and Psychoanalytic models of criticism.  It might be interesting to incorporate some of the methodologies as contexts for consideration.  I found this on the same site as above, Designing Rubrics for Assessing Higher Order Thinking by William Peirce.

WSU Critical Thinking Rubric
1) Identifies and summarizes the problem/question at issue (and/or the source's position).
Does not identify and summarize the problem, is confused or identifies a different and inappropriate problem.

Does not identify or is confused by the issue, or represents the issue inaccurately.
Identifies the main problem and subsidiary, embedded, or implicit aspects of the problem, and identifies them clearly, addressing their relationships to each other.

Identifies not only the basics of the issue, but recognizes nuances of the issue.

2Identifies and presents the STUDENT'S OWN hypothesis, perspective and position as it is important to the analysis of the issue.
Addresses a single source or view of the argument and fails to clarify the established or presented position relative to one's own. Fails to establish other critical distinctions.
Identifies, appropriately, one's own position on the issue, drawing support from experience, and information not available from assigned sources.

3) Identifies and considers OTHER salient perspectives and positions that are important to the analysis.
Deals only with a single perspective and fails to discuss other possible perspectives, especially those salient to the issue.
Addresses perspectives noted previously, and additional diverse perspectives drawn from outside information.

4) Identifies and assesses the key assumptions.
Does not surface the assumptions and ethical issues that underlie the issue, or does so superficially.
Identifies and questions the validity of the assumptions and addresses the ethical dimensions that underlie the issue.

5) Identifies and assesses the quality of supporting data/evidence and provides additional data/evidence related to the issue.
Merely repeats information provided, taking it as truth, or denies evidence without adequate justification. Confuses associations and correlations with cause and effect.

Does not distinguish between fact, opinion, and value judgments.

Examines the evidence and source of evidence; questions its accuracy, precision, relevance, completeness.

Observes cause and effect and addresses existing or potential consequences.

Clearly distinguishes between fact, opinion, & acknowledges value judgments.

6) Identifies and considers the influence of the context* on the issue.
Discusses the problem only in egocentric or sociocentric terms.

Does not present the problem as having connections to other contexts--cultural, political, etc.
Analyzes the issue with a clear sense of scope and context, including an assessment of the audience of the analysis.

Considers other pertinent contexts.

7) Identifies and assesses conclusions, implications and consequences.
Fails to identify conclusions, implications, and consequences of the issue or the key relationships between the other elements of the problem, such as context, implications, assumptions, or data and evidence.
Identifies and discusses conclusions, implications, and consequences considering context, assumptions, data, and evidence.

Objectively reflects upon the their own assertions.
Contexts for Consideration
  1. Cultural/Social 
    Group, national, ethnic behavior/attitude
  2. Scientific 
  3. Conceptual, basic science, scientific method
  4. Educational 
    Schooling, formal training
  5. Economic 
    Trade, business concerns costs
  6. Technological 
    Applied science, engineering
  7. Ethical 
  8. Political 
    Organizational or governmental
  9. Personal Experience 
    Personal observation, informal character
Source: Washington State University Critical Thinking Project Critical Thinking Rubric 


  1. Thanks for the connection to Stephen Toulmin. I am not a student of his work, and I found myself skimming information about him, especially his work in logic and argument. You'll find a concise summary of his thought at this web site.