This was sparked by a recent large-scale study – and later a book – using Collegiate Learning Assessment data in the US.
The book provoked widespread interest and media attention in the US, especially on the topic of universities’ failure to teach critical thinking.
Others include the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal and the Cornell Critical Thinking Tests. I suspect because universities would be justifiably worried about what the results might indicate.
In the margin — and tangentially — some (pessimistic) academics have countered that universities promote precisely the opposite of critical thinking; a culture of uncritical left-wing orthodoxy, an orthodoxy that takes the form of cultural attitude or milieu within the sector and which largely goes unchallenged.
Others have suggested that it comprises skills in argumentation, logic, and an awareness of psychology (cognitive biases).
But this does not help get a crisp and clear understanding.Employers have long been insisting on the importance of critical thinking skills.In 2006, a major report by a consortium of more than 400 US employers ranked “critical thinking” as the most desirable skill in new employees.It is hard to define things like critical thinking: the concept is far too abstract.Some have claimed that critical thinking is not a skill as much as an attitude, a “critical spirit” — whatever that might mean (of course it could be both).A 2015 report by the Foundation for Young Australians claims demand for critical thinking skills in new graduates has risen 158% in three years.This data was drawn from an analysis of 4.2 million online job postings from 6,000 different sources in the period 2012-2015.The report found employers can pay a premium for many enterprise skills.For example, evidence of problem solving and critical thinking skills resulted in a higher mean salary of A,745.Being a good critical thinker is a desirable trait for getting a job in today’s economy. What business or enterprise does not want a good critical thinker?Actually, none of this is really new – although the pace might have quickened of late.