CRITICAL THINKING
                             CRITICAL TIMES

                                           PART I


CETL is the acronym given to The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. The primary
mission of the CETL is to support and promote programs and efforts that enhance teaching and
learning experiences, and to facilitate the continued professional development of faculty in their
roles as instructors, researchers, scholars and learners.


   Our thinking determines:
          • what we learn
          • how we learn
          • what we think is important to learn
          • what effort we should expend
          • what we think is true or false
          • how things should be viewed
          • whether our learning is of high or low quality
          • whether our learning is deep or superficial

In short, everything we know, believe, want, fear, and hope for is a result of our
thinking. There is no way to understand anything except through thinking.


   Critical thinking is an ability to engage in the process of
          • application,
          • analysis,
          • evaluation,
          • interpretation, and
          • synthesis
   in order to make an informed decision.


                                          Evaluation:   Makes decisions, judges,
                Evaluation                              selects based on criteria and
                                          Synthesis:    Combines elements to form
                                                        new entity from original one.
                 Analysis                 Analysis:      Separates whole into its parts.
                                          Application: Uses information in a situation
               Application                             different from original learning.
                                          Comprehension: Interprets, translates,
             Comprehension                            summarizes, paraphrases given
               Knowledge                  Knowledge:     Recognizes and recalls facts
                                                         and details.

                        THE ELEMENTS OF THOUGHT

Whenever we think,
    we think for a purpose
    within a point of view
    based on assumptions
    leading to implications and consequences.
    We use concepts, ideas, and theories
    to interpret
    data, facts, and experiences
    in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.

                                        Purpose of
                   Points of View      The Thinking
              frame of reference,      goal, objective

    Implications &                                   Question at Issue
    Consequences                                      problem, issue

      Assumptions                                   Information
 presupposition,                                data, facts,
 taking for granted                             observations,

                      Concepts      Inference &
              theories, models,     interpretation
              definitions, laws,      conclusions,
                 principles           solutions
                                                 •   As an instructor in the                                                                         4
                                                     developmental classroom             Introduce TSTC Harlingen’s
    •      If implement                                                                  definition of CT and the framework
           --Make our work in                    •   As a workshop leader
                                                 •   As a resource for faculty as they   we have adopted
          classroom less frustrating
          because students will be                   rethink their courses
          more engaged,
         --We’ll be teaching them to
         do something that is
         essential if they want to live
         successfully in the modern                                                                                     How can I best show you
          world.                                                                                                        that implementing critical
    •      If don’t implement                                                                                           thinking is a worthwhile
          --Nothing will change in the                                                                                  endeavor?
          --Our students – who will be
          in charge of our world before
          too long – will not be able to
          think through things, solve
          complex problems, come up
          with new ideas that benefit
          them and us.                                                                                            •    The various schemes/
                                                                                                                      frameworks – Berkeley,
                                                                                                                      Perry’s scheme (Harvard)
•       That implementing CT                                                                                      •    Ideas about how to develop
        across the curriculum was                                                                                     an individual’s critical
        going to be an extremely                                                                                      thinking abilities
        complex task                                                                                              •    Input from individuals at
•       That there would be a                                                                                         other colleges who are
        great deal of hesitation on                                                                                   attempting to implement CT
        the part of some faculty
•       How can we teach CT to
        students who don’t take a
        lot of responsibility for their                                                       •    Take all the frameworks and decide with the
        own learning and who more                                                                  committee’s help, which would be the most
        often than not do not make                                                                flexible and best fit the variety of programs on
        informed decisions about          •   The 35+ definitions of critical thinking             campus
        things in their lives?                from the fields of philosophy and               •    Take the input from other colleges who are
                                              psychology                                          attempting to implement CT
                                          •   Theories about the cognitive component
                                              and learning
                                Students are familiar with the 2D
                                Cartesian system and may not be
                                aware of the issues related to 3D                      To explain the differences
                                Cartesian systems. The concept of                      between 2D and 3D
                                a left and right handed system is                      coordinate space (CS)
                                not obvious to a novice in 3D

Mixing left handed or right
handed systems will lead
problems. Reference
materials need to be
                                                                                                                    How does the 3D
reviewed to determine
                                                                                                                    coordinate system differ
which system they use
and modify accordingly.                                                                                             from the 2D coordinate
                                                                                                                    system? Are there any
                                                                                                                    issues related to 3D
                                                                                                                    coordinate systems that
                                                                                                                    are not issues in 2D?

                                                                                                            By rotating and flipping,
                                                                                                            there are eight ways to orient
                                                                                                            the axes in a standard XY
  All 3D coordinate                                                                                         coordinate system. There
  systems are “equal”.                                                                                      are 48 different ways the
                                                                                                            XYZ axes can be situated in
                                                                                                            a 3D coordinate system. By
                                                                                                            flipping and rotating an XYZ
                                                                                                            system, students will
                                                                                                            discover 24 different ways to
      There are actually 2 types of 3D                                                                      orient the axes. However as
      coordinate systems, left handed                                                                       we stated previously and
      and right handed. The left handed                                                                     would be shown in a
      system is customarily used by                                                                         graphical example, there are
      mathematicians while right-                                   Not all 3D coordinate                   actually 48 combination.
      handed systems are used by                                    systems are “equal”.
      graphics developers.
                                        The Elements

A purpose is a goal, an objective, what is going to be accomplished. We can use the
term to include functions, motives, and intentions. We should be clear about our
purpose and that purpose should be justifiable.

Whenever we reason, we do so with a purpose. People have goals and objectives in all of
their activities, in their reading, writing, decision making, in the things they make intentionally
(books, theories, equations, cars, advertisements, etc.). All have purposes. Therefore, it is
always relevant to ask, “What is the purpose in that?” We can identify the purpose of
anything that involves reasoning.

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target purpose:

   •   What is your, my, their purpose in doing ________________?
   •   What is the objective of this assignment (task, job, experiment, policy, strategy, etc.)?
   •   Should we question, refine, modify our purpose (goal, objective, etc)?
   •   Why did you say ____________?
   •   What is your primary purpose in this line of thought?
   •   What is the purpose of this meeting (chapter, relationship, action)?
   •   What is the function of this _________________(bodily system, machine, tool,
       economic policy, plan, ecosystem)?

It is always relevant and central to ask questions like these. With practice, thinking about
purpose can become a constant in our reasoning, and it will often bring insight.

All of the examples listed above have to do with identifying a purpose in something. But the
concept of purpose has other uses as well. We can not only identify purpose, but

       We can keep it firmly in mind as we plow through a whole host of details. That can be
       difficult to do—seeing the forest while looking at the trees.
       We can question our purpose, or a writer’s purpose, asking whether it is worth
       achieving, and at what cost.
       We can compare our goals to yours, or one textbook’s goals to another’s.
       We can have many purposes behind a decision, and we can prioritize them, figuring
       out which goals are more important.

Thus, purpose serves as a center for asking a variety of relevant, reflective questions, as well
as for performing a large number of higher-order thinking activities.

Question at Issue
The question lays out the problem or issue and guides our thinking. When the
question is vague, our thinking will lack clarity and distinctness. The question then
should be clear and precise enough to productively guide our thinking.

Whenever we reason through something, there is some question we are trying to answer,
some problem we are addressing. So in any act of reasoning, it always makes good sense to
ask, “What is the question at issue?” “What is the problem I am addressing?” If purpose is
what we are trying to accomplish, the question at issue is the more specific question we are
addressing in order to achieve that purpose. The purpose of this workshop, for example, is to
introduce faculty to the framework for critical thinking that we will be implementing across the
curriculum. By contrast, the question at issue is: If the framework consists of elements,
standards, and rubrics, what are the elements? What are the standards? And what are the
rubrics? Since all reasoning is about some question or problem, it is always relevant to ask
what is the question being addressed.

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target question at issue:

   •   What is the question we are trying to answer?
   •   What important questions are embedded in the issue (experiment, math problem,
       marketing strategy)?
   •   Is there a better way to put the question?
   •   Is this question clear? Is it complex?
   •   What would we have to do to settle this question?
   •   I’m not sure exactly what question you are asking. Could you explain it?
   •   The question in my mind is this: ____________. How do you see the question?

Questions are vital to all critical thinking. The central questions of a course are vital to critical
thinking in a discipline.

Notice all the different activities connected to the question at issue. We can identify it in
different contexts (as in the previous list). After we identify a question at issue, we might
need to go further.

       We can ask, “What other questions at issue should we be addressing? What major
       questions have we left out?”
       When we identify the question at issue in a lecture and we also want to be mindful and
       stay focused on that question all the way through.
       We can create a set of guideline questions on a topic or for reading a chapter.
       A good proactive question to ask is, “If we try to solve this problem this way, what
       further problems are likely to arise?”
       We can demonstrate how the same central questions keep recurring in a particular

All of these are rich ways to explore our thinking and the thinking of others, and all of them
revolve around the element question at issue. As with each of the elements, to learn how to
answer questions like these is to develop a range of higher-order thinking skills.

Information includes the facts, data, evidence, or experiences we use to figure things
out. It does not necessarily imply accuracy or correctness. However, the information
we use should be as accurate as possible and relevant to the question or issue we are

Whenever we reason, we use information. Therefore, it always makes sense to ask, “What
information is relevant to this issue?” We might ask, “What information do we have, and what
information do we need but don’t have?”

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target information:

   •   What information do we need to answer this question?
   •   What data are relevant to this problem?
   •   Do we need to gather more information?
   •   Is this information relevant to our purpose or goal?
   •   What experience convinced us of this? Could our experience be distorted?
   •   How do we know this information (data, testimony) is accurate?
   •   Have we left out any important information that we need to consider?
   •   On what information are we basing that statement?

Notice that people use information even when they reason badly through an issue or
problem. People who draw prejudiced conclusions often base their reasoning on incomplete
or incorrect information. So, we often have to do more than simply identify the information in
a piece of reasoning:

       We need to be able to evaluate information.
       We need to distinguish information from our interpretation of that information.
       We need to decide when we need more information to draw a reasonable conclusion.
       We can learn how to find other reliable pieces of information on a topic.
       We can organize information in a coherent way, and present it clearly.

Information is an essential element of reasoning. But information by itself is seldom enough
to decide important issues. We need the other elements of reasoning just as much. If we
know some information, but we don’t know the implications of that information, we can be
seriously misled even by the facts. If we know some information, but we don’t know the
questions at issue that the information is relevant to, then the information is merely a piece of

Interpretation and Inference
Inferences are interpretations or conclusions we come to. Inferring is what the mind
does in figuring something out. Inferences should logically follow from the evidence;
in other words, infer no more or less than what is implied in the situation.

To think about the world we live in is to interpret it, to draw conclusions about it. So it’s
always relevant to ask, “How are you interpreting this? What conclusions are being drawn?”

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target interpretation and inference:

   •   What conclusions are we coming to?
   •   Is our inference logical?
   •   Are there other conclusions we should consider?
   •   Does this interpretation make sense?
   •   Does our solution necessarily follow from our data?
   •   How did you reach that conclusion?
   •   What are you basing your reasoning on?
   •   Is there a plausible alternative conclusion?
   •   Given all the facts, what is the best possible conclusion?
   •   How should we interpret these data?

It is often vitally important in critical thinking to distinguish information from someone’s
interpretation of that information. We see people’s faces (information) and we interpret the
look we see there as anger, maybe as anger at us. But we can easily be mistaken in that
conclusion. The person may be feeling sad or tired rather than angry, or the person may
indeed be angry, but at something that has nothing whatsoever to do with us. People who
diagnose patients need to be constantly aware of the information they are receiving about the
patient and also their interpretation of that information. They then need to reflect on their
interpretation and question whether alternative interpretations are more plausible. That’s true
of diagnosing patients, but it’s equally true of office managers trying to diagnose problems, or
students “diagnosing” study habits that work well for some courses, but not for others, or
technicians sitting at a radar screen interpreting blips.

In addition to identifying interpretations and conclusions, to be an effective critical thinker we
need to develop other skills centering on this element:

       We need to compare our interpretations of a situation to the interpretations given by
       We need to decide which interpretation is most reasonable.
       We need to be able to put the interpretation in context because the distinction between
       information and interpretation depends heavily on content.
       We can group a set of interpretations to see how they all follow from an underlying
       background system.

We are constantly drawing conclusions—so is everyone else—based on what we observe
(information), on the beliefs we hold (assumptions), on what we think will happen
(implications and consequences). Conceptualizing our own thoughts (and those of others) as
conclusions gives us insight into what those conclusions are based on.

Concepts are ideas, theories, laws, principles, or hypotheses we use in thinking to
make sense of things. It is important to be clear about the concepts we are using and
to use them justifiably.

All reasoning exists in terms of concepts. If we are reasoning about democracy in America,
we have a concept of democracy that is operative in our thinking. It is part of being reflective
to ask, “What is our concept of democracy? What is our understanding of the term?” If we
are trying to figure out whether an office is running efficiently, it helps to step back from that
question and ask, “What is our concept of efficiency here? What criteria do we use to decide
whether an office is running efficiently?”

It is a considerable skill to learn to identify the main concepts in our reasoning, primarily
because we often tend to take our concepts for granted. If we have the inner conviction that
we’ve been treated unfairly, it doesn’t often lead us to ask, “What is our concept of fairness?
What do we mean when we classify this action as unfair?” For example, we can feel an
action to be unfair simply when we’ve been hurt by it. If we don’t then go on to explore the
concept of fairness that is at work in our reaction, we may continue to draw the conclusion
that we’ve been unfairly treated even when it is just bad luck.

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target concepts:

   •   What idea are we using in our thinking?
   •   Is this idea causing problems for us and for others?
   •   We think this is a good theory, but could you explain it more fully?
   •   What is the main hypothesis we are using in our reasoning?
   •   Are we using this term in keeping with established usage?
   •   What main distinctions should we draw in reasoning through this problem?
   •   What are some of the basic principles of _________ (dental hygiene, building
       construction, culinary arts, etc.)?

In addition to identifying concepts

       We can refine our concepts.
       We can compare and contrast different concepts.
       We can amend our concepts in response to new situations.
       We can create concepts to cover new cases.

Notice again that concepts are always present in everyone’s thinking. Every single thought
we have is guided by concepts. The question for the critical thinker then is not whether we
are using concepts, but whether we are aware of the concepts we are using.

Assumptions are beliefs we take for granted. They usually operate at the
subconscious or unconscious level of thought. It is important to make sure that we
are clear about our assumptions and that these assumptions are justified by sound

Whenever we reason through something, we always have to begin somewhere. We can’t
“begin at the beginning,” because there is no beginning. What we begin with are our
assumptions. Our assumptions consist of everything we take for granted when we think
through something. Sometimes people can state their assumptions up front. More often,
though the most crucial assumptions we make are those that are unstated. In fact, it is often
a major insight to identify assumptions we may be unaware of even though they underlie our

Any area where reasoning is taking place is an area where it is important to identify
assumptions. If we are having a heated argument with a friend, a good question to ask is,
“What are my friend’s main assumptions?” But it is at least as important to ask, “What are my
own assumptions?”—and to hold ourselves to the same standards we apply to our friends.
The critical thinking question is not whether we make assumptions—we all do that all the
time. The critical thinking question is whether we are aware of the assumptions we are
making. Only by becoming aware of our assumptions can we then evaluate them so that we
can be more in charge of our thinking.

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target assumptions:

   •   What are we taking for granted?
   •   Are we assuming something we shouldn’t?
   •   What assumption is leading us to this conclusion?
   •   What is ____ (this policy, strategy, explanation) assuming?
   •   Why are we assuming _______________?
   •   What is being presupposed in this theory?
   •   What are some important assumptions we make about our students, our college, our
   •   What exactly do ________ (mathematicians, biologists, etc.) take for granted?

So far we have been talking about identifying assumptions, but there are any number of other
ways we can reflect critically on assumptions:

          We can evaluate assumptions in light of evidence.
          We can compare our assumptions to other people’s assumptions.
          We can put other people’s assumptions (including our own) in a larger context,
          asking how they are rooted in their upbringing or their culture background.
          We can “try on” certain assumptions, tracing out what their implications would be if
          we really believed them.
          We can seek out others with different assumptions as a way of becoming more
          aware of our own.

Assumptions, then, like all the elements, serve as a core idea around which to investigate a
large number of critical thinking questions.

Implications and Consequences
Implications are the things that might happen if we decide to do something.
Consequences are the things that do happen when we act. We should think through
possible and probable implications in a situation before acting.

Just as our reasoning has to begin somewhere, it also has to end somewhere. The area
beyond where it ends constitutes the implications and consequences of our reasoning. To
ask about the implications and conclusions of a piece of reasoning is to ask, “What follows
from it?” If we have a certain position on a controversial issue such as capital punishment,
we want to ask, “What are the implications of that position?” That is, what further things must
we adhere to if we hold that position? What further beliefs does this commit us to?

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target implications and consequences:

   •   If we decide to do “X”, what things might happen?
   •   If we decide not to do “X”, what things might happen?
   •   What are you implying when you say that?
   •   What is likely to happen if we do this versus that?
   •   Are there possible unintended consequences of alternative courses of action?
   •   Are you implying that _________?
   •   How significant are the implications of this decision?
   •   What, if anything, is implied by the fact that ____________?

To think critically, we need to become skillful at handling implications and consequences in
ways that go beyond simply identifying them:

       In most real-world situations, consequences are seldom automatic, so we need to do
       something more subtle: not just identify consequences of an action, but assess the
       likelihood of various possible consequences, few of which are certain.
       Since many decisions have both a plus-side and a minus-side, we need to be able to
       weigh the costs and benefits of decisions.
       We sometimes have to accept the unwelcome implications of our positions.

Focusing on the element of implications and consequences allows us to see aspects of
situations and thought processes that, previously, we saw only occasionally, in a hit-or-miss
sort of way. This element allows us to focus on something that is one of the keys to
reasoning well, to taking charge of our thinking.

Point of View
Point of view is literally “the place” from which we view something. It includes what
we are looking at and the way we are seeing it. Our point of view or perspective can
easily distort the way we see situations and issues, so it is important to make sure we
understand the limitations of our points of view and that we fully consider other
relevant viewpoints.

Whenever we reason through something, we do so within some point of view. So it always
makes sense to ask, “From what point of view are we addressing this issue?” To call point of
view an element of reasoning is to claim that there is no such thing as “point-of-view-less”
reasoning. All reasoning occurs within some point of view. Addressing the same question
from a different point of view can produce a whole different set of purposes, assumptions,
conclusions, and so on.

Flexibility: Here is list of questions that target point of view:

   •   How are we looking at this situation? Is there another way to look at it that we should
   •   What exactly are we focused on? And how are we seeing it?
   •   Is our view the only reasonable view? What does out point of view ignore?
   •   Which of the possible viewpoints makes the most sense given the situation?
   •   How often have we studied viewpoints that seriously challenge our personal beliefs?
   •   Are we having difficulty looking at this situation from a viewpoint with which we
   •   Are we uncritically assuming that the point of view of our government is justified?

In addition to identifying points of view, we need to develop other related skills:

       We can differentiate one point of view from another.
       We can apply someone’s point of view to a new situation, understanding how he/she
       would view it.
       We can contrast the instructor’s point of view with the student’s point of view—also
       with the administration’s point of view and with the point of view of the potential
       employer of the student. Some of these are always relevant. Others are relevant in
       one case but not in another.
       A major critical thinking skill to develop is the ability to evaluate points of view. Clearly
       it is not enough just to know what our point of view is. Bigots, for example, will
       sometimes openly admit that they look at things from a bigoted point of view.
       Obviously, that is not an example of critical thinking. Once we’ve identified a point of
       view on an issue, our own or anyone’s, we need to evaluate how plausible it is, how
       well it fits the evidence, how biased it is.


Critical thinking is thinking that is done well; it meets high standards of thinking. The
standards allow us to evaluate the quality of thinking or reasoning about a problem, issue, or
situation. They are what make critical thinking different from thinking.



CLARITY     Clarity is a gatekeeper standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine
            whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because
            we do not know what it is saying. Thinking is clear when it is easily understood,
            when it is free from the likelihood of misunderstanding, when it is readily apparent
            what follows from it.

            Example: “What can be done about the education system in America?” In order
            to address the question, we need a clear understanding of what the problem is.

            Questions that target clarity include:
              • Could you elaborate further?
              • Could you give me an example?
              • Could you illustrate what you mean?

ACCURACY    The thinking is accurate when it describes the way things actually are.

            Example: “Most dogs weigh over 300 pounds.” This is certainly a clear statement
            but it is untrue.

            Questions that target accuracy include:
              • How could we check that?
              • How could we find out if that is true?
              • How could we verify or test that?

RELEVANCE   To say something is relevant is to say that it address the problem or question at

            Example: Students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course
            should be used in raising their grade. However, “effort” does not measure the
            quality of learning and, therefore, is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.

            Questions that target relevance include:
              • How does that relate to the problem/issue?
              • How does that bear on the question?
              • How does that help us with the issue?

PRECISION   Thinking is precise when it is as specific and detailed as needed in order to
            reason through a problem or issue.

            Example:        “Jack is overweight.” This is both clear and accurate, but not
            sufficiently precise. How much overweight is Jack? One pound or 500 pounds?

            Questions that target precision include:
              • Could you be more specific?
              • Could you give me more details?
              • Could you be more exact?

DEPTH          Thinking is deep enough when it looks below the surface of the problem or
               question at issue and when the complexities that underlie the problem or question
               are identified and taken into account.

               Example: “Just say no” has been used to discourage children and teens from
               using drugs. However, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex
               issue at a very superficial level.

               Questions that target depth include:
                 • What factors make this a difficult problem/issue?
                 • What are some of the complexities of this problem/issue?
                 • What are some of the difficulties we need to deal with?

BREADTH        Thinking is broad enough when other aspects, other perspectives, other parallel
               problems or questions are identified and taken into account.

               Example: “Wind power is the only source of energy worth pursuing.” Wind power
               is a source of energy worth pursuing but certainly not the only one.

               Questions that target breadth include:
                 • Do we need to look at this from another perspective?
                 • Do we need to consider another point of view?
                 • Do we need to look at this in other ways?



         Analysis of                Evaluation of                  Improvement
         thinking by                  thinking by                   of thinking
         focusing on                 focusing on                   by using what
        the elements                the standards                   was learned

                         THE RUBRICS

                   HOLISTIC SCORING RUBRIC

   Rating                       Characteristics of the Work
               Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
                 • Accurately identifies the most important purpose and key
                    question or problem
                 • Accurately interprets facts, data, evidence
  Superior       • Recognizes and demonstrates a clear understanding of
                    related theories, principles, ideas
                 • Draws reasonable and well thought-out conclusions
                 • Justifies results and procedures
                 • Explains assumptions and reasons
                 • Thoughtfully analyzes and evaluates major alternative points
                    of view
               Does most or many of the following:
                 • Identifies relevant purpose and key question or problem
                 • Accurately interprets facts, data, evidence
                 • Draws reasonable conclusions
 Acceptable      • Justifies some results or procedures
                 • Explains reasons
                 • Offers analyses and evaluations of obvious alternative points
                    of view
               Does most or many of the following:
                 • Fails to identify purpose and/or key question or problem
                 • Misinterprets facts, data, evidence
                 • Draws unjustified or illogical conclusions
  Marginal       • Justifies few results or procedures
                 • Seldom explains reasons
                 • Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of
                 • Regardless of the evidence or reasons, maintains or defends
                    views based on self-interest or preconceptions
               Consistently does all or almost all of the following:
                 • Fails to identify purpose and key question or problem
                 • Offers biased interpretations of facts, data, evidence
                 • Fails to draw conclusions
Unacceptable     • Does not justify results or procedures
                 • Does not explain reasons
                 • Ignores or superficially evaluates obvious alternative points of
                 • Regardless of the evidence or reasons, maintains or defends
                    views based on self-interest or preconceptions
                                           ANALYTICAL RUBRIC FOR THE ELEMENTS OF THOUGHT
                                Superior                            Acceptable                         Marginal                         Unacceptable
                    If applicable, consistently does    If applicable, consistently does   If applicable, consistently does   If applicable, consistently does
                   all or almost all of the following   most or many of the following       most or many of the following     all or almost all of the following
Purpose            Fully and clearly identifies the     Identifies the purpose             Misidentifies the purpose          Does not consider the purpose
Question at        Demonstrates a clear and full        Demonstrates an                    Demonstrates a partial             Does not demonstrate an
Issue              understanding of the primary         understanding of the primary       understanding of the issue/        understanding of the
                   issue/problem, the relevant          issue/ problem and the             problem                            issue/problem or identifies a
                   secondary aspects and                secondary aspects of the                                              different and inappropriate
                   addresses their relationships to     issue/problem                                                         issue/ problem
                   each other
Information        Accurately interprets the            Interprets competently some        Misinterprets the supporting       Merely repeats the supporting
                   supporting data (evidence,           primary supporting data            data (evidence, statements,        data (evidence, statements,
                   statements, facts, questions,        (evidence, statements, facts,      facts, questions, graphics,        facts, questions, graphics,
                   graphics, assertions,                questions, graphics,               assertions, descriptions, etc.)    assertions, descriptions, etc) or
                   descriptions, etc.)                  assertions, descriptions, etc.)                                       offers a biased interpretation of
                                                                                           Inconsistently examines the        the supporting data
                   Examines the source of the           Examines the source of the         source of the supporting data
                   supporting data                      supporting data                                                       Does not examine the source of
                                                                                           Does not question of the           the supporting data
                   Questions the accuracy,              Questions the accuracy of the      supporting data
                   relevance, and completeness of       supporting data                                                       Does not question the
                   the supporting data                                                                                        supporting data
Essential          Analyzes the issue/problem           Analyzes the issue/problem         Misinterprets theories,            Does not recognize related
Concepts           with a clear sense of related        with a sense of some related       principles, and ideas and their    theories, principles, and ideas.
                   theories, principles, and ideas      theories, principles, and ideas    relationship to the issue
Assumptions        Identifies, clearly explains, and    Identifies and explains            Identifies and explains few        Does not identify, explain, and
                   questions the validity of            assumptions                        assumptions at a superficial       question assumptions
                   assumptions                                                             level
Point of View      Identifies, analyzes, and            Identifies, analyzes, and          Deals only with a single point     Does not identify or hastily
                   evaluates relevant major points      evaluates obvious points of        of view and fails to discuss       dismisses relevant points of
                   of view                              view                               other possible perspectives        view
Interpretations    Uses inference to reason             Uses inference to reason           Uses inference to reason           Does not use or infrequently
and Inferences     carefully from stated ideas to       competently from stated ideas      inconsistently from clearly        uses inference to reason from
                   significant implications and         to significant implications and    stated ideas to implications       clearly stated ideas or
                   consequences                         consequences                       and consequences                   recognize implications and
Implications and   Identifies and discusses             Identifies and discusses           Identifies and discusses           Does not identify conclusions,
Consequences       conclusions, implications, and       obvious conclusions,               obvious conclusions,               implications, and
                   consequences of the                  implications, and                  implications, and                  consequences
                   issue/problem that are               consequences of the                consequences of the
                   consistently defensible              issue/problem that are             issue/problem that are
                                                        generally defensible               sometimes defensible


                                        Master Thinker
                                        (Good habits of thought have
                                        become second nature.)

                                 Advanced Thinker
                                 (We advance in keeping with
                                 our practice.)

                          Practicing Thinker
                          (We recognize the need
                          for regular practice.)

                   Beginning Thinker
                   (We try to improve but
                   without regular practice.)

             Challenged Thinker
             (We are faced with significant
             problems in our thinking.)

Unreflective Thinking
(We are unaware of significant
problems in our thinking.)

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