Critical thinking test can be beneficial, says study

In an attempt to come up with new ways of accurately determining students' critical thinking skills, a new report claims that the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) test can be an effective way of evaluating student learning, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The study was commissioned by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), and examined the learning outcomes of around 7,500 students at 47 small liberal arts colleges between the fall of 2008 and spring of 2011. Colleges using the CLA said that some weaknesses in the curricula of their courses had been identified by using the test to see how well students were performing. Other schools used the results of the CLA to assess how they taught critical thinking and writing skills to students.

Supporters of the CLA claim that it can be an effective tool in teaching students how to apply critical thinking and problem-solving skills that could be useful to them after they graduate.

"Our [member] institutions are interested in getting it right, and they have embraced the use of data to diagnose what is and isn't working and then changing their practices," Richard Ekman, president of the CIC, told Inside Higher Ed.

Did you take the CLA? If so, what were your experiences? Would this put you off filling out a college application to one of these institutions?

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