Assessing Critical Thinking in Capstone Courses: A Roundtable Discussion Comparing Experiences & Setting Direction
Capstone courses often develop students’ skill not only in a particular content area but also in integrating learning from prior classes (e.g. marketing, finance, and economics within a business curriculum). While assessing students’ critical thinking skills within a single course is certainly challenging, assessing integrative critical thinking skills—the ability to draw upon prior course learning when exercising critical thought within the present course—is still more so. This roundtable discussion will afford interested parties the opportunity to share their experiences in assessing integrative critical thinking skills with the aim of developing more effective ways of assessing such skills in the future.
Most institutions of higher learning seek to advance critical thinking skills among their students. This can be pursued within a specific course—marketing, microbiology, mechanical physics—or in a more integrative fashion wherein the objective is for students to draw upon and synthesize learning across several courses. Capstone courses often develop students’ skill not only in a particular course but also in integrating learning from prior classes that span disciplines (e.g. marketing, finance, and economics within a business curriculum). While assessing students’ critical thinking skills within a discipline is certainly challenging, assessing integrative critical thinking skills—the ability to draw upon prior course learning when exercising critical thought within the present course— is still more so. It reflects a higher-order skill and one that is in great demand. As educators, it is incumbent upon us to improve our ability to develop such integrative critical thinking skills within our students. To do so, we need to identify how to best assess student mastery of these skills. This roundtable discussion seeks to provide a forum where interested parties may come together to share their experiences in assessing integrative critical thinking skills and to develop ways of more effectively assessing such skills in the future.
Let me confess to being a novice within the area of academic assessment. As such, I do not pretend to offer to others prescriptions or recipes for success in assessing integrative critical thinking skills. My credentials are quite humble. I recently coordinated assessment of the capstone strategy course within the Steven G Mihaylo College of Business and Economics at California State University, Fullerton. That’s it. However, I have learned by doing and will share my experience and insights as a means of launching the roundtable discussion. I invite other participants to then share their experiences as well. My brief investigation of this subject suggests that relatively little attention has as yet been given to assessing integrative critical thinking skills and how to develop these skills within students. As such, I am organizing this roundtable discussion to enable those of us teaching or administering capstone courses to collectively explore the notion of integrative critical thinking skills and to address how to assess them.
College and University faculty teaching or administering instruction of capstone courses who are interested in assessing students’ critical thinking skills that integrate learning from prior coursework.
Through joining in this roundtable discussion, participants should have:
learned how different disciplines and institutions assess capstone courses
clarified the role of integrative critical thinking within academic assessment
identified the distinction between critical thinking and integrative critical thinking for assessment
developed a network of contacts to draw upon when developing assessment materials for integrative critical thinking within capstone courses
reflected on how the results of integrative critical thinking assessments might be used to help faculty further develop pedagogical strategies across the wider curriculum of the institution
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experience in our roundtable discussion please contact
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