CRITICAL THINKING/PROBLEM SOLVING ABILITY

Key Concepts

Level 1

Knowledge, Self-Inventory, and Beginning Skills

Level 2

Application and Analysis

Level 3

Synthesis and Effective Use

1. Examines purposes, goals, and problems. Comprehends, identifies, and describes problems in controlled contexts.

Uses relevant questions for problem solving strategies.

Articulates purposes and goals in controlled contexts.

Analyzes problems in complex, open-ended contexts.

Devises relevant questions for problem solving strategies.

Articulates purposes and goals in complex, open-ended contexts.

Evaluates, formulates, and synthesizes various kinds of problems.

Evaluates, formulates, and synthe-sizes various problem solving strategies.

Evaluates, reformulates and synthesizes various kinds of problem solving goals and purposes.

2. Makes observations and examines facts, data, evidence, assumptions, opinions, and points of view with appropriate care. Makes accurate observations in controlled contexts.

Identifies, distinguishes, and defines facts, data, evidence, assumptions, opinions and points of view within controlled contexts.

Questions facts, data, evidence, assumptions, opinions, and points of view in a variety of complex, open-ended contexts.

Analyzes assumptions, facts, opinions, and points of view in a variety of complex, open-ended contexts.

Articulates assumptions, values, and points of view in various complex, open-ended contexts.

Evaluates and synthesizes facts, data, evidence, assumptions, values, and points of view for various kinds of problems.

Uses and evaluates the use of facts, data, evidence, assumptions, values, and points of view used to solve various kinds of problems.

3. Makes reasonable correlational and cause/effect relationships. Comprehends, identifies, and describes correlational and cause/effect relationships in controlled contexts. Questions, analyzes, uses correlational and cause/effect relationships within various complex, open-ended contexts. Evaluates, formulates, and synthe-sizes correlational and cause/effect relationships made in various contexts.

Implements and evaluates solutions to problems solved with correlational and cause/effect analysis.

4. Draws thoughtful inferences, theories, conclusions, hypotheses, and interpretations. Comprehends, identifies, and describes inferences in controlled contexts.

Forms theories, conclusions, hypotheses, models, and interpretations in controlled contexts.

Comprehends, identifies, and describes inferences in various complex, open-ended contexts.

Forms theories, conclusions, hypotheses, models, and interpretations within various complex, open-ended contexts.

Synthesizes, formulates, and evaluates reasonable inferences in various contexts.

Synthesizes and evaluates theories, conclusions, hypotheses, models and interpretations in various contexts.


The skills of critical thinking are not static within the levels described below; instead, they are dynamic in relation to the other skills and levels. For critical thinking to occur at any level, all skills need to function and engage. For purposes of assessment, at various stages, specific skills may dominate the performance assessment. This description should not exclude any skill from operating at any stage. Students practicing and demonstrating these critical thinking and problem solving skills need to recognize and meet standards of clarity, accuracy, completeness, precision, relevance, significance, reason, consistency, logic and fairness.


Direct questions, comments, concerns to
mailto:gsmith@clark.edu

Clark College 1999