Nelson Critical Thinking Test
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The Nelson Critical Thinking Test is designed to predict several possible outcomes for students, including their ultimate success in undergraduate and graduate study programs, progress in applying critical thinking skills, and degree of effectiveness in completing academic courses which require some degree of critical thinking. Administered through a 32-question exam, the test results were measured across multiple studies.
The evidence for reliability of the NCTT is relatively strong. As the test is administered via 32 multiple choice questions, the input data is clear-cut, and not open to interpretation, leading to a precise measurement of performance. However, the multiple choice element also leaves a gap in the reliability of the data which is obtained-it presents an element of randomness that may be better controlled through more open-ended questions. The evidence for the content of the NCTT is relatively high as well, though it is difficult to precisely determine without seeing the form and content of each individual question administered through the test. Regardless, the information was presented in clear language, and focused on no areas of intellect or knowledge other than critical thinking, and thus we must assume that the content is focused exclusively on measuring critical thinking.
Questions for Research on the NCTT
After you have read the Abbreviated Test Manual for the Nelson Critical Thinking Test (NCTT), answer the questions presented below. Your responses should include both a definition of the measurement concept reflected in the question (e.g., reliability, criterion-related validity) and reference to specific pieces of information contained in the manual.
What evidence is presented regarding the reliability of the NCTT? Evaluate the meaning and adequacy of this evidence.
- What evidence is presented regarding the content-related validity of the NCTT? Evaluate both the meaning and the adequacy of content-related evidence for the validity of the NCTT.
- What evidence is presented regarding the criterion-related validity of the NCTT? Evaluate the meaning and adequacy of this evidence.
- What evidence is presented regarding the construct-related validity of the NCTT? Evaluate the meaning and adequacy of this evidence.
- Describe one use of the NCTT that you believe is justified, given the information provided in the manual.
- Describe one use of the NCTT that you believe is not justified, given the information provided in the manual. In order for the NCTT to be used in this way (or for this purpose), what information would you like to see in the manual?
Below is a section of reading from the Abbreviated NCTT Manual © 2004, K. Nicolai
Critical thinking is an essential tool of inquiry. Although critical thinking has been conceptualized in various ways, virtually all scholars agree that this way of thinking involves cohesive and logical reasoning about assumptions, arguments, evidence, and conclusions.
The Nelson Critical Thinking Test (NCTT) was designed to assess students' critical thinking abilities. The NCTT's brevity, low cost, and ease of administration and scoring set it apart from other published measures of critical thinking. Potential uses of the NCTT include prediction of students' success in both undergraduate and graduate academic programs; assessment of students' progress in applying critical thinking skills, and evaluation of the effectiveness of academic courses designed to develop students' critical thinking skills.