Critical thinking: what is it, how can it be cultivated and assessed?

Year: 2013

Author: Stevens, Robert

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

 The Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority has identified a number of General capabilities as a key dimension of the Australian Curriculum. They encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with curriculum content in each learning area and the cross-curriculum priorities, will assist students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century. They play a significant role in realising the goals set out in the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, that all young people in Australia should be supported to become successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens. The Australian Curriculum includes seven general capabilities. These are:
Information and communication technology capability
Critical and creative thinking
Personal and social capability
Ethical understanding
Intercultural understanding.

These general capabilities can be understood as the "new basics" - a foundation for success in learning and in life. 
In this paper I will examine one of these capabilities - critical thinking. I will seek to answer the following questions.  What is critical thinking?  How might it be cultivated (learned or taught)?  How can critical thinking be assessed?  How does critical thinking relate to the other general capabilities?