Intending to Teach Critical Thinking A Study of the Learning Impacts over One Semester of Embedded Critical Thinking Learning Objects

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Thomas Lilly
Pratima Darr
Matthew Schmolesky
Todd Lindley
Marieke Schilpzand
Patrick Ludolph
Rebecca Higgins
Young Shim
Aurelie Weinstein
Daniel Von Deutsch
Lior Burko


Numerous studies from recent years and going back decades suggest that post-secondary students are failing to sufficiently improve their critical thinking (CT) skills during their undergraduate years (Abrami et al., 2015; Arum & Roksa, 2011; Huber & Kuncel, 2016). Meanwhile, institutions have increasingly embraced CT as a core competency and educational outcome. Several studies have demonstrated measurable within-semester increases in CT, but most often without a meaningful control group for comparison (Cargas et al. 2017; Grant & Smith 2018; Styers et al. 2018). This study asks if an intervention of embedding content-driven critical thinking exercises within courses would cause a measurable impact on critical thinking outcomes within one semester. All participating courses were paired with an instructor teaching a control section alongside an experimental section. All sections were exposed to pre- and post-assessments, using the Critical Thinking Assessment test. Pre-post results indicated statistically significant gains for experimental groups compared with control groups.


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Lilly, T., Darr, P., Schmolesky, M., Lindley, T., Schilpzand, M., Ludolph, P., Higgins, R., Shim, Y., Weinstein, A., Von Deutsch, D., & Burko, L. (2022). Intending to Teach Critical Thinking: A Study of the Learning Impacts over One Semester of Embedded Critical Thinking Learning Objects. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 22(3).