top of page

This table assists instructors in evaluating critical thinking in students by breaking out the elements of each step.

Guide to Evaluating Critical Thinking

1. Description of the Issue or Problem

Briefly summarize the issue clearly and objectively. Describe the main ideas or aspects of the issue.

  • Without bias, describe the main ideas and events related to the issue.

  • What definitions help inform the issue?

  • What factors influence this issue?

What to look for:

  • Description – Main ideas, events

  • Description – Key Definitions

  • Description – Influences

2. Positions

Objectively examine multiple positions, perspectives and beliefs. Include positions held by professionals and experts.

  • How is this issue understood by different people?

  • What are common assumptions and beliefs about the issue?

  • What do experts say about the issue?

What to look for:

  • Positions – What are common positions from the media, or people in communities or organizations?

  • Positions – What do experts and professionals say?

  • Positions – Student position as informed by relevant experiences

3. Evaluating Evidence

Evaluate evidence to identify strengths and weaknesses in arguments and counter-arguments including bias, authority, validity and strength. Are these sources and evidence reliable and credible? Why?

  • How reliable and credible are the various arguments or positions presented? What information does or does not stand up to scrutiny?

What to look for:

  • Evidence – Evaluate credibility of arguments

  • Evidence – Evaluate relevance of information

  • Evidence – Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments

4. Comparing Positions

Without bias, compare and contrast positions, arguments and ideas.

  • What essential arguments, positions, ideas and evidence should be included in the final analysis?

  • What are the implications of the different positions?

What to look for:

  • Comparison – Compares essential arguments & positions

  • Comparison –What are implications of positions?

5. Personal Position

Connect facts, assumptions, evidence and perspectives to draw conclusions and develop arguments. Recognize and respond to counterarguments and weaknesses about the position you support.

  • What perspectives do you agree with and why?

  • Are you ready to formulate a position? If so, what is your position on the issue?

  • What evidence supports this position?

  • What arguments challenge your position?

What to look for:

  • Personal Position – Connects facts, evidence

  • Personal Position – Presents own position

  • Personal Position – Withholds judgement

  • Personal Position – Supports position and responds to counterarguments

  • Personal Position– Identifies potential implications

6. Further Questions ​

What further questions, sources or information would guide next steps in exploring this issue?

  • What resources or ideas might provide more insight into this issue?

  • What further questions should be asked?

What to look for:

  • Further Questions – What are future implications

  • Further Questions – What additional insights or questions should be considered?

Please reload

bottom of page