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).
Educational jurisdictions around the world now include critical thinking in guidelines for curriculum and assessment.
Political and business leaders endorse its importance.
My mind went back to the subway express as quicker than the elevated; furthermore, I remembered that it went nearer than the elevated to the part of 124th Street I wished to reach, so that time would be saved at the end of the journey.
I concluded in favor of the subway, and reached my destination by one o’clock.” (Dewey 1910: 68-69; 1933: 91-92) : “Projecting nearly horizontally from the upper deck of the ferryboat on which I daily cross the river is a long white pole, having a gilded ball at its tip.
“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.For details on this history, see the Supplement on History.Before considering the definition of critical thinking, it will be helpful to have in mind some examples of critical thinking, as well as some examples of kinds of thinking that would apparently not count as critical thinking.Standardized tests have been developed to assess the degree to which a person possesses such dispositions and abilities.Educational intervention has been shown experimentally to improve them, particularly when it includes dialogue, anchored instruction, and mentoring.It suggested a flagpole when I first saw it; its color, shape, and gilded ball agreed with this idea, and these reasons seemed to justify me in this belief. The pole was nearly horizontal, an unusual position for a flagpole; in the next place, there was no pulley, ring, or cord by which to attach a flag; finally, there were elsewhere on the boat two vertical staffs from which flags were occasionally flown.It seemed probable that the pole was not there for flag-flying.Morevoer, the pilot being near the front of the boat, he would need some such guide as to its direction. This hypothesis was so much more probable than the others that I accepted it. It expands by increase of heat, or by decrease of pressure, or both.I formed the conclusion that the pole was set up for the purpose of showing the pilot the direction in which the boat pointed, to enable him to steer correctly.” (Dewey 1910: 69-70; 1933: 92-93) : “In washing tumblers in hot soapsuds and placing them mouth downward on a plate, bubbles appeared on the outside of the mouth of the tumblers and then went inside. The presence of bubbles suggests air, which I note must come from inside the tumbler. Could the air have become heated after the tumbler was taken from the hot suds?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.