“Critical thinkers” have the dispositions and abilities that lead them to think critically when appropriate.
The abilities can be identified directly; the dispositions indirectly, by considering what factors contribute to or impede exercise of the abilities.
Presenting ideas orally or in writing is crucial and is often the distinguishing feature between good results and average ones.
Rationale has essay and letter writing templates to build skills and confidence.
In the 1930s, many of the schools that participated in the Eight-Year Study of the Progressive Education Association (Aikin 1942) adopted critical thinking as an educational goal, for whose achievement the study’s Evaluation Staff developed tests (Smith, Tyler, & Evaluation Staff 1942).
Glaser (1941) showed experimentally that it was possible to improve the critical thinking of high school students.
Rationale’s reasoning maps encourage people to support their responses and to consider different opinions.
It uses colour conventions to display reasoning – green for reasons, red for objections and orange for rebuttals.
In 1987, the APA’s Committee on Pre-College Philosophy commissioned a consensus statement on critical thinking for purposes of educational assessment and instruction (Facione 1990a).
Researchers have developed standardized tests of critical thinking abilities and dispositions; for details, see the Supplement on Assessment.