Overview

USFSM’s Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking is a university-wide endeavor to enhance undergraduate students’ critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is one of USFSM’s six Pillars of Intellectual Engagement. After consulting with faculty, staff, students and others in the community, and analyzing student learning assessment data, critical thinking emerged as the topic with the greatest potential to support the institution’s mission to prepare its students to be “successful leaders and responsible citizens.”

USFSM chose critical thinking as its Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) topic for reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). For reaffirmation by SACSCOC, USFSM must develop a new QEP every ten years. A QEP’s purpose is to designate a strategy to increase students’ learning outcomes in an area deemed central to the university’s mission. Students were integrally involved in developing our QEP’s name—Incredi-Bull Critical Thinking (IBCT).

Definition of Critical Thinking:

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, . . . reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.
— From a statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987.

The Five Commitments that comprise IBCT outcomes:

  1. Formulate vital questions and problems clearly.
  2. Gather and assess relevant information.
  3. Identify relevant assumptions, alternatives, and implications.
  4. Develop well-reasoned conclusions and solutions.
  5. Communicate reasoning effectively.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2014). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools (7th ed.). Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.

The Intellectual Standards that define the quality of thinking:

Clear – Understandable; meaning can be grasped
Accurate – Free from errors or distortions; true
Precise – Exact to the necessary level of detail
Relevant – Relates to the matter at hand
Deep – Explains complexities and provides insight
Broad – Encompasses multiple viewpoints and is comprehensive
Logical – Parts of thinking make sense together; no contradictions
Significant – Focuses on the important; not trivial
Fair – Justifiable; not self-serving or one-sided

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2014). The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools (7th ed.). Tomales, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking.