Conference of the International Test Commission edition:9 location:San Sebastian, Spain date:2-5 July 2014
The need to embed critical thinking (CT) instruction across academic disciplines in higher edu-cation has become an important focus of researchers and educators. There have been numerous efforts in designing and implementing instructional interventions that could promote acquisition of both domain-specific and domain-general CT skills. Standardized instruments for measuring domain-general CT skills are available. However, the emphasis given to the development of do-main-specific CT skills has not been matched by the development of standardized domain-specific CT measures. The absence of such standardized measures has made it difficult to deter-mine effectiveness of interventions in stimulating the development of domain-specific CT skills. This study aims at developing and validating a domain-specific CT measure targeting a freshmen introductory physics course. We focused on the five categories of CT identified in the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment (HCTA: Halpern, 2010): verbal reasoning, argument analysis, hy-pothesis testing, likelihood and uncertainty analysis, and decision making and problem solving. We initially examined the specific objectives of each item in the HCTA, and constructed a set of domain-specific items targeting each of the identified CT categories. We attempted to mirror the constructed-response items of the HCTA. As each item was constructed, frequent discussions were held among the authors and with other two subject-matter experts. This phase led to sub-stantial revision of the items in which 17 constructed-response and 2 forced-choice items were finally kept. The validation involved cognitive interviews with a small group of physics students, and large group paper-pencil administration. Analyses of the data are in progress. Evidence of the validity and reliability of the test, and its future worth in examining effectiveness of instructional interventions will be discussed. It is hoped that the study will be useful for researchers who would be interested to develop domain-specific CT tests in their major areas.