Mentoring Minds identified the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ to foster high-quality, disciplined thinking. Students can learn to become stronger thinkers and problem solvers as they use the traits to guide their thoughts, actions, and decisions. Each trait contributes to the development of skillful thinking in academics, in social interactions, and in everyday life.

To achieve at high levels, students need to develop thinking skills and the 9 traits rather than just acquire a body of knowledge. How will teachers and students know if they are showing progress in trait development? Each trait does not have to be assessed in the same way. Several opportunities can be used for trait assessment including questions, observations, interviews, journals, collection of student work, discussions, rubrics, and checklists. For this writing, let’s examine a sampling of questions that teachers might use to gain insight into student knowledge, understanding, and application of the 9 traits. These questions promote reflection on and evaluation of the traits in general.

  • How has the use of the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ improved the way you learn?
  • What evidence shows your effectiveness or productiveness in using the traits?
  • How has your use of the traits influenced classmates?
  • What effect have the traits had on your effectiveness in working in groups?
  • What examples have you observed that alert you that others are engaging in using the traits?
  • What are situations in life outside of school where the traits could be applied?
  • How have the traits influenced your decision-making and problem-solving skills?
  • Which of the traits might you work on for future growth and improvement? What might you do?
  • What commitment do you have for future use of the 9 traits?
  • How might you use the trait _______ differently?
  • How might you help others outside of school develop an understanding of the traits?
  • What do you envision a self-improvement plan for extended use of the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™ to look and sound like?

These questions, along with others you might create, drive home the realization that the 9 traits have value across many disciplines and throughout the lifetime of students. As educators, your goal is for students to learn to use the traits spontaneously without prompting. Certainly, it is intended that students recognize that when they use one trait, other traits might be related. Questioning shows the capacity of the students to be self-reflective and increases their alertness toward the trait application.  Hopefully, the use of questions also helps educators gain an understanding of where students are on their journey of growth toward internalization of the 9 Traits of Critical Thinking™. 

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