Evaluating methods of teaching and assessing critical thinking: A mixed methods study of faculty and students across Harvard University

Awardees: Margaret Hayes (HMS-BIDMC), Suzanne Cooper (HKS), Richard Schwartzstein (HMS), Amy Sullivan (HMS), and William Wisser (HGSE)

Summary: Awardees will conduct a mixed methods study analyzing the teaching and learning of critical thinking skills at Harvard—the differences in approaches across Schools, and faculty and student perceptions of critical thinking instruction and assessment.

Critical thinking skills—or the capacity to be deliberate about thinking and to use advanced cognitive skills—are essential not only for physicians, but any professional who makes important decisions on a daily basis. Dr. Margaret Hayes and her team will develop a mixed methods study in professional schools at Harvard University in an effort to curate, research, and assess essential practices for teaching and learning critical thinking skills.

Her research team includes experts in teaching and assessing critical thinking, in survey research, and in qualitative and quantitative analysis from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Harvard Medical School. Their mixed method approach includes:

  1. an online survey administered to faculty teaching courses in critical thinking across all schools to curate information on various models of teaching;
  2. the convening of focus groups with students to understand their perceptions of learning and being assessed on critical thinking skills in their respective academic environments; and
  3. aggregating qualitative and quantitative data by school to compare faculty and student perceptions on the extent of teaching and learning of critical thinking skills.