Identifying web-based tools for managing critical-thinking assessments

Julie Reynolds, Mellon Instructor in Writing & Biology, Arts & Sciences

Project Description

Julie Reynolds and her colleagues Paula Lemons and Ahrash Bissell are developing a methodology for designing valid and reliable, discipline-specific, critical-thinking questions and grading rubrics that simultaneously measure student’s content knowledge and specific critical-thinking skills (e.g., application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). Using this methodology, they are generating questions and grading rubrics, and beginning to use these questions to gather data on student learning of both content and critical-thinking skills.

To share their work and allow others to contribute, they are looking for a web-based tool that can manage this type of collaborative assessment design and modification. This grant funded an assistant to assess web sites that might be suitable for a critical thinking assignment repository. The ultimate goal is to find an appropriate on-line tool to build a scholarly community around critical thinking assignments and rubrics for grading. Criteria used to assess websites:

  1. free
  2. user friendly
  3. contains a downloadable database of critical-thinking assignments related to the teaching of biology
  4. allows for collaborative writing of critical thinking assignments
  5. claims to measure critical thinking in student responses
  6. actually can measure critical thinking in student responses

Of the 13 software or websites assessed, none met the criteria. Investigated software/websites included: CPR, FLAG CDT, LE3, InsightAssessment, CornellCT, 2Mpower, SmartPrim, Theseus, Trackstar, DevelopingCTSkills, Critical Thinking Co, Writeboard, and CLAQWA.

The assistant suggested designing a new system to meet the needs of the project.


Project Started: August 20, 2007
Funding: $2000