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Critical Thinking Rubric

5. Master Thinker

  • Risks trying to answer intractable, perplexing, and complicated questions
  • Reinterprets the history of thought in the relevant area
  • Redefines the assumptions and premises from which all valid reasoning must proceed in the relevant area
  • Creates an original synthesis of diverse perspectives
  • Reaches conclusions that others acknowledge as foundational for all subsequent reasoning in the relevant area

4. Advanced Thinker

  • Tackles questions that arise from profound cognitive dissonance
  • Challenges conventional, received wisdom responsibly in search of new perspectives
  • Reaches original conclusions through creative and imaginative lines of reasoning; draws vital distinctions and creates new categories
  • Internalizes contrary positions; makes the arguments of opponents for them
  • Actively cooperates or collaborates with others to test and expand the universe of knowledge

3. Practicing Thinker

  • Seeks the most reasonable among the several reasonable answers possible
  • Delays judgment until all of the relevant information is known and assessed; admits ignorance when necessary
  • Constructs sound lines of reasoning based on a fair and accurate assessment of the evidence; examines his or her own presuppositions and assumptions
  • Concedes points to those with opposing positions
  • Believes all sides should recognize his or her attempt to be reasonable and fair

2. Beginning Thinker

  • Seeks to justify his or her position rationally
  • Accepts any information that supports his or her position, regardless of quality
  • Presupposes the truth of the conclusion to be reached; employs logical fallacies
  • Dismisses opposing points of view after only cursory examination
  • Believes that, given the same evidence, all reasonable people should arrive at the same conclusions; those who disagree are unreasonable or worse

Egocentric Thinker

  • Believes there is no single right answer to any question; each person must discover what’s right for him or her
  • Relies on limited facts and information
  • Offers personal opinions only; little or no evidence of reasoning
  • Ignores contrary points of view
  • Does not attempt to persuade others because all are entitled to their own opinion

Based, in part, on Paul & Elder (1999). Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking. Foundation for Critical Thinking.

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