A Longitudinal Study of Critical Thinking and Postformal Reasoning:

Assessing Undergraduate Outcomes Within Disciplinary Contexts

Project Overview

Study details

The project is directed by Dr. Rachelle L. Brooks, Northwestern University, and funded by the Teagle Foundation. Two advisory boards of faculty, one for each discipline, have been tasked with collaborating to develop the critical thinking essay prompts and to assist with and advise the work of the project for its duration.

Participating Institutions (contacts in parentheses)

Protocol for participating faculty and students

Faculty at participating institutions will select one or more courses that have a majority of first- and second-year students enrolled and that are likely to produce some number of majors in classics, or political science, in two years. All of the students in a selected course will be asked to participate, rather than selected volunteers, and the total number of student participants should be approximately 40-50 per institution.

Students will receive $25 for their participation. They will be asked to respond to the questions on-line and outside of class time. Faculty are asked not to share the questions in advance nor "teach to the test" to avoid skewing the results.

In two years the same students will be asked to complete another assessment. All of the students will be informed in year 1 that they are committing to participating two years hence but we will not reveal the contents of the second assessment at this time (it might include one or both of the essay questions used in the first year). The students will receive appropriate compensation during the second assessment for their participation (amount TBD). Those students who will have graduated will not be solicited; all who are still enrolled, regardless of the major(s) they have selected, will be asked to participate again.

Students will be asked to indicate their major (with "undeclared" an option), the name(s) of their high school, demographic questions and a separate set of brief analytical questions.