In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Assessment of Thinking in Educational Settings

  • Introduction
  • Edited Volumes
  • Textbooks on the Study of Thinking Skills
  • Textbooks on Teaching Thinking
  • Reviews
  • Journals

Psychology Assessment of Thinking in Educational Settings
Gregory Schraw
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 August 2022
  • LAST MODIFIED: 29 November 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0062


The study of thinking and thinking skills is one of the most important topics in education. Experts agree that there are many different types of thinking, including core categories such as reasoning, argumentation, problem solving and critical thinking, and metacognition. Each of these four categories includes specific, essential component skills, such as induction, constructing argument rebuttals, weighing information, and online monitoring. Collectively, there is a wide variety of core components of thinking, with some authors describing ten or more distinct skills. Each of these skills can be assessed for different purposes, using a variety of assessment formats, such as multiple-choice items or essays. This article includes three main sections that focus on different types of thinking skills, five general categories of assessments, and major printed resources, such as textbooks and edited volumes. One section describes four broad types of thinking skills, including reasoning, argumentation, problem solving and critical thinking, and metacognition (see Types of Thinking Skills, Reasoning, Argumentation, Problem Solving and Critical Thinking, and Metacognition). The next section examines five general categories of thinking-skills assessments that focus on general aptitude and achievement, general thinking skills, content knowledge, procedural leaning, and attitudes and dispositions (see General Aptitude and Achievement, General Thinking Skills, Content Knowledge, Procedural Learning, and Attitudes and Dispositions).

Edited Volumes

A large number of edited volumes have been devoted to critical thinking, problem solving, and self-regulation. The works in this section are intended to sample the entire range, from scholarly entries to shorter chapters geared toward instruction and classroom-based assessment. Boekaerts, et al. 2000 discusses self-regulation and its relationship to problem solving and critical thinking. Davidson and Sternberg 2003 includes scholarly chapters that focus on problem solving. Dunn, et al. 2008 provides an outstanding set of edited articles appropriate for teaching and assessing thinking skills in psychology. Holyoak and Morrison 2005 includes scholarly chapters that focus on reviews of recent literature rather than classroom applications. Schraw and Robinson 2011 includes theory- and applications-oriented chapters that focus specifically on critical thinking skills. Sternberg, et al. 2007 considers a variety of ways to infuse critical thinking into the psychology class.

  • Boekaerts, Monique, Paul R. Pintrich, and Moshe Zeidner, eds. 2000. Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

    This volume includes twenty-three chapters under two general topics: general theories of self-regulation and domain-specific aspects of self-regulation. Although it is devoted to the study of self-regulation, most chapters discuss in detail the relationship between self-regulation and critical thinking skills, including instructional strategies to improve everyday thinking skills and problem solving.

  • Davidson, Janet E., and Robert J. Sternberg, eds. 2003. The psychology of problem solving. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    This volume includes a variety of chapters on planning, implementing, and assessing problem solving and critical thinking.

  • Dunn, Dana S., Jane S. Halonen, and Randolph A. Smith, eds. 2008. Teaching critical thinking in psychology: A handbook of best practices. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9781444305173

    This volume focuses on teaching critical-thinking skills in the context of college psychology classes. Chapters are short and extremely readable in most cases with an emphasis on teaching and assessing a concise set of thinking skills.

  • Holyoak, Keith J., and Robert G. Morrison, eds. 2005. The Cambridge handbook of thinking and reasoning. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    This volume includes longer, scholarly chapters that consider of a variety of reasoning skills, including problem solving, deduction, induction, scientific thinking, and argumentative reasoning. Several chapters focus on teaching and assessing problem solving and critical thinking.

  • Schraw, Gregory, and Daniel H. Robinson, eds. 2011. Assessment of higher order thinking skills. Charlotte, NC: Information Age.

    This volume includes thirteen chapters by cognitive psychologists and measurement experts on a variety of topics related to teaching and assessing critical-thinking skills. Several chapters compare the strengths and weaknesses of different assessment strategies for critical thinking.

  • Sternberg, Robert J., Henry L. Roediger III, and Diane F. Halpern, eds. 2007. Critical thinking in psychology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    This volume includes seventeen chapters that discuss ways to infuse critical-thinking skills into the psychology classroom. Most of the chapters focus on critical thinking when conducting or interpreting psychological research.

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