Assessing Thinking in Middle School Students

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia Cordiero


Steps are outlined describing how to diagnose specific thinking skills in middle school students within a testing context for the purpose of developing appropriate instruction and remediation. The need for instruction in critical thinking skills is represented to have a twofold application. First, the market place demands critical thinking skills. This is documented in the report by the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills. Second, learning both in school and for life also requires critical thinking skills. This is documented in a range of research literature referenced and in a number of educational interventions reviewed. An instrument has been designed to be administered to middle school students. It begins with a narrative prompt set in circumstances familiar to students and poses a combination of social, moral, and practical dilemmas. A series of eight questions prompts students to respond in essay form reflecting their skill with specific critical thinking skills in accordance with the taxonomy. In addition, a set of scoring rubrics is provided. Finally, there are some reflections based on informal trials and intuitions which focus on three areas: implications for instruction, implications for curriculum, and an application to staff development.


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