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Institutions Using Our Approach to Critical Thinking

Note: The Foundation for Critical Thinking now offers customized webinars and six-week customized online courses, all tailored to your institution's needs and goals!  Read More Here

The following institutions are making considerable efforts to foster critical thinking using our approach to critical thinking. This conception is based on the research of the Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking during the last 30 years and utilizes the work of Dr. Richard Paul, Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Gerald Nosich.  If your institution is not listed, but you think it should be added to this list, please let us know.  Email Ms. Lisa Sabend at

Institutions Using Our Approach

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  • Institutions using our approach

  • Winthrop University

    Rock Hill, South Carolina


    Placing Critical Thinking at the Heart of a Liberal Arts Education


    In 2003, Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, began a process of re-conceptualizing and restructuring its General Education core courses in order to provide students with a common set of intellectually rigorous courses intentionally focused on critical thinking, critical reading, and writing skills.  With sensitivity to the fact that employers increasingly note a lack of “soft skills,” including critical thinking, written communication and analytical reasoning, in recent college graduates, Winthrop faculty members decided to replace a required second-semester composition course with a new General Education course titled CRTW 201: Critical Reading, Thinking, and Writing.  This course was carefully designed to provide sustained, focused instruction in critical thinking as well as instruction in advanced composition, research methods, construction of arguments, and rhetorical analysis.    

    After careful research and assessment of many critical thinking models, Winthrop faculty members elected to teach the Paulian model of critical thinking developed by Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder and promoted and taught by Dr. Gerald Nosich and other scholars associated with the Foundation for Critical Thinking.  Not only is Dr. Paul an internationally recognized authority on critical thinking, with eight books and over 200 articles on the subject, but the Paulian approach to critical thinking is an internationally acclaimed and widely-referenced model of critical thinking; this practical, accessible, and well-researched model has enabled faculty members to provide Winthrop students with constructive, functional strategies to improve their thinking in multiple contexts and disciplines.

    Winthrop University’s CRTW 201:  Critical Reading, Thinking, and Writing is a rigorous, writing-intensive course that includes instruction in fundamental components of academic research and advanced composition and focuses on critical reading strategies and the close analysis of claims and evidence in non-fiction prose texts.  However, the primary focus of the course is on teaching and reinforcing the concepts and practices of critical thinking as taught and espoused by Dr. Paul.  Students are taught the Elements of Reasoning, the Intellectual Standards, the Impediments to Critical Thinking, the Universal Critical Thinking Character Traits, and the SEE-I strategy; and emphasis is placed on applying these critical thinking concepts and strategies in students’ academic disciplines.  All CRTW 201 students are required to read Gerald Nosich’s text Learning to Think Things Through:  A Guide to Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum.  In addition, instructors also assign texts by Richard Paul, Linda Elder, Carol Tavris, and other scholars and thinkers who integrate critical thinking into their academic disciplines.  Ongoing internal assessment processes have demonstrated that this deliberate focus on critical thinking produces measurable and significant gains in students’ analytical reasoning skills, and Winthrop alumni attest to the benefits of this critical thinking instruction in their professional careers.     

    Winthrop University has invested considerable resources in training faculty members in the Paulian approach to critical thinking: faculty members have both attended and presented at the Foundation’s annual International Conferences on Critical Thinking and Educational Reform; Dr. Gerald Nosich has provided intensive training to faculty members on campus; and CRTW 201 instructors participate in ongoing training workshops designed to reinforce critical thinking concepts developed by the Foundation for Critical Thinking.  Winthrop University’s Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) offers faculty training sessions focused on critical thinking topics such as Socratic questioning, active and engaged classroom activities, and the role of critical thinking skills in today’s workplace.  And Winthrop University’s 2014 Hornsby Lecturer, Dr. Carol Tavris, will spend several days speaking to students and faculty members about critical thinking and its broad application in the sciences, the media, and in popular culture. 

    In addition, faculty members and administrators have worked to promote and integrate critical thinking across the campus in intentional, sustained ways.  In 2009, Winthrop University’s designated Thompson Scholar focused on critical thinking and presented a series of lectures and talks throughout the academic year to both students and faculty members on the application of critical thinking in varied academic disciplines.  Starting in 2013, Dr. Paul’s critical thinking concepts and strategies were integrated into Winthrop’s ACAD 101:  Principles of the Learning Academy course, a required first-semester General Education course designed to equip students with the intellectual skills they will need to be successful in college.  And Dr. Paul’s critical thinking strategies, including textual analysis integrating The Elements of Reasoning, have been applied by many instructors in Winthrop’s required General Education course HMXP 102:  The Human Experience.  This continued integration of critical thinking instruction across the university and into an increasing number of courses attests to the belief on the part of Winthrop faculty members that these analytical skills are crucial to students’ success both in their academic endeavors and in their lives outside of the classroom.  

    Ultimately, Winthrop University’s decision to modify the required General Education   program to include a course devoted to the Paulian model of critical thinking has had pervasive, transformative effects on the university, creating an academic environment where every student is trained in the intellectual strategies of critical thinking and is encouraged to develop the intellectual habits and values of the strong-sense, Socratic critical thinker.  Winthrop University, one of few universities that require a General Education course focused on the Paulian approach to critical thinking, seeks to create an intellectual environment where critical thinking is embraced, taught, and cultivated across the campus and where students are equipped to become thoughtful, responsible, and fair-minded ethical citizens.

    Amanda Hiner

    Coordinator, Critical Reading, Thinking, and Writing

    Winthrop University

    September 18, 2014


    The University of Louisville Ideas to Action:

    Using Critical Thinking to Foster Student Learning and Community Engagement

    In 2007, the University of Louisville launched its quality enhancement plan (QEP) titled Ideas to Acton:   Using Critical Thinking to Foster Student Learning Community Engagement.   This ten-year initiative is centered upon the development and assessment of students’ critical thinking skills and the promotion of community engagement across the undergraduate curriculum. The Ideas to Action (i2a) program is part of UofL’s commitment to ongoing improvement as part of the regional reaccreditation process.   The Paul-Elder critical thinking model provides the framework for the teaching and learning innovations faculty and staff are creating as part of i2a at UofL. These innovations include the development of new or revised learning tools, assignments, assessments, programs and teaching and learning strategies.   The i2a staff and campus partners are promoting critical thinking infusion and “Paul-Elder integration” by facilitating new learning communities, developing workshops and small group sessions, offering individual consultations, creating resource materials and fostering cross-disciplinary conversations about critical thinking. To learn more about the i2a critical thinking work at University of Louisville, go to:

    The following link is to our video of University of Louisville faculty talking about their efforts at explicitly incorporating critical thinking instruction into their courses.  All the faculty were participants in a Faculty Learning Community on Critical Thinking here at UofL.  The list of questions that we asked are posted on our website as well.

    For more information, contact:
    Edna Ross, Ph.D.
    Ideas to Action Specialist for Critical Thinking
    Ideas to Action Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning
    University of Louisville (502) 852-5138

    Florida Memorial University

    The Florida Memorial University Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) is designed to enhance students’ critical thinking skills. Our focus is to improve the critical thinking skills of undergraduate students as we prepare them to function effectively in a highly competitive technological and global society. 

    Florida Memorial University will use the Paul-Elder Model of Critical Thinking as the approach to guide our efforts in developing and enhancing our critical thinking curriculum. The decision to select the Paul-Elder framework is based on the fact that it is comprehensive, applicable to all disciplines, defines specific cognitive skills, and offers high quality resources through the Foundation for Critical Thinking. 

    The QEP is centered on preparing our undergraduate students to succeed in college and in society by developing their critical thinking skills in five (5) freshman courses in our General Education Program, and reinforcing these skills throughout the undergraduate courses in the major areas of study. 

    The goal of the QEP is to improve and assess student performance in critical thinking.                                      

    Based on the QEP goal, the following Student Learning Outcomes have been identified:

    1.         Students will use concepts and theories to guide their reasoning.

    2.         Students will analyze major concepts and identify their basic components.

    3.         Students will synthesize ideas into more complex interpretations or relationships.

    4.         Students will evaluate the quality of information, and assess the soundness of conclusions.

    5.         Students will apply theories or concepts to practical problems or in new situations.

    6.         Students will communicate any or all of the above processes in written and oral form. 


    The QEP will be implemented in three coordinated phases:

    1.         Introductory Stage: Five (5) courses in the General Education Program will include a focus on teaching and developing of critical thinking skills.

    2.         Reinforcing Stage: These skills will be reinforced in the undergraduate courses in the major areas of study.

    3.             Mastery Stage: The knowledge and skills developed will be applied in a Mastery Level activity addressing pratical issues 

    Faculty development will be an integral and important part of the QEP. Therefore, our plan includes a sustained and substantial plan of faculty development throughout the phases of the QEP implementation.

    In order to assess the QEP, we have included in our plan specific measures for direct and indirect assessments of student learning and program goals using national instruments, and specifically developed instruments for tracking QEP-related activities. The budget will provide adequate resources for the implementation and assessment of the QEP. 

    QEP Contact:          

    Dr. Idriss Abdoulaye, QEP Director                                                                      



    Eastern Kentucky University:

    Developing Informed, Critical and Creative Thinkers Who Communicate Effectively

    Eastern Kentucky University is in its third full year of implementation its student learning Quality Enhancement Plan to “develop informed, critical and creative thinkers who communicate effectively” as a part of its accreditation. In that effort, EKU has embraced the work of The Foundation for Critical Thinking, promoting the work of Richard Paul, Linda Elder, and Gerald Nosich.  “Coaches” (faculty & staff trainers) continue to work with individuals, departments, and colleges to develop specific teaching and assessment strategies to help improve student critical/creative thinking.  Professional Learning Communities are being used to promote professional development to both faculty and professional staff to improve student critical/creative thinking and communication skills, in and out of the classroom.  Workshops, consultations, resource libraries, and brown bag sessions help promote this initiative.  The Foundation’s booklets, posters, and bookmarks are widely distributed and displayed across campus.  The new EKU five-year Strategic Plan is centered on student critical/creative thinking and communication and requires that each academic department develop student learning outcomes to address these specific goals. 

    You can find more information at this link:

    For information about the program, contact

    Kate Williams
    Director / Quality Enhancement Programs
    University Programs / Academic Affairs
    Eastern Kentucky University

    Surry Community College:

    Becoming a Learning College Built on Critical Thinking

    In the summer of 2003, Surry Community College in Dobson, North Carolina, began an initiative to improve and expand student learning with a focus on critical thinking. Our first decision was to adopt a shared model of critical thinking.

    A common model allows students to make connections between subjects and skill sets. If multiple models (different language, different definitions and frameworks) are used across campus, it is difficult for students to see those connections. In order for an institution to impact students' thinking abilities college-wide, faculty must construct courses and design instruction around a common conceptualization of critical thinking, one that is precise and comprehensive, not vague, incomplete or narrowly defined.

    After researching many conceptualizations of critical thinking, we chose the model originated by Richard Paul and developed by Paul, Linda Elder and Gerald Nosich. We believe that no other concept of critical thinking is as substantive or as accessible. At Surry Community College, we want to focus on education that moves people away from the past and facilitates new ways of learning that will prepare our students for the 21st century marketplace. We realize that critical thinking plays a vital role in facilitating that kind of authentic, active learning. As a college focused on improving learning, we want to raise our academic standards to intellectually challenge our students on a daily basis through classroom activities and assessments that go beyond traditional lecture and rote memorization. Learning at Surry Community College should not only be rigorous but also transferable. Since our goal is for students to be successful critical thinkers for life, they must be able to transfer these skills to other venues — to future coursework, to their careers, and to their personal lives. To help achieve these goals, Surry Community College faculty continuously work to understand critical thinking and to rethink their teaching strategies, assessment methods, and even the nature of their discipline as a mode of thinking.

    Using the approach developed by the Foundation for Critical Thinking, we recognize that all thinking consists of parts, or can be divided into elements: purpose, point of view, assumptions, implications and consequences, data and information, inferences and interpretations, concepts, question at issue. Paul and Elder explain in Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life, “Whenever you are reasoning you are trying to accomplish some purpose, within a point of view, using concepts or ideas. You are focused on some issue or question, issue, or problem, using information to come to conclusions, based on assumptions, all of which has implications.” Critical thinkers analyze their thinking--and that of others--by identifying these elements of reasoning.  All thinking can be measured against intellectual standards such as clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance, and fairness. Paul and Elder note, “These are not the only intellectual standards a person might use. They are simply among those that are the most fundamental. . . . Thinking critically requires command of [these] fundamental intellectual standards.” Critical thinkers assess their thinking--and that of others--by applying these standards of reasoning.  Paul and Elder also note, “As we are learning the basic intellectual skills that critical thinking entails, we can begin to use those skills in a selfish or a fair-minded way.” All thinkers should cultivate positive intellectual traits such as intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, intellectual integrity, intellectual courage, confidence in reason, intellectual empathy, etc.

    To assist our faculty and staff in the work of critical thinking, we developed a website that explains the Surry Community College critical thinking initiative; both the thinking that shaped and continues to shape it, and the many ways in which faculty and staff have contextualized the model. You are invited to visit the site at: Critical Thinking at Surry Community College

    You may also contact Connie Wolfe at

    In 2006, Surry Community College received an institutional award for excellence in critical thinking from the Foundation for Critical Thinking.

    Wilkes Community College


    Wilkes Community College (WCC) was reaffirmed by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in June 2006. As part of the reaffirmation, WCC developed a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) with the overall goal of increasing students' disposition to use critical thinking in their academic, professional, and personal lives. WCC selected the Foundation of Critical Thinking (Paul and Elder) Model of Critical Thinking to create a common language among WCC students, faculty, and staff. WCC chose to emphasize four elements of the model: information, questions, assumptions, and point of view. Students are introduced to the critical thinking model in one of the first courses they take at WCC, Success and Study Skills. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools by Paul and Elder is one of the two texts in the course.
    Wilkes Community College continues its critical thinking implementation efforts and the following are a few specific examples that may illustrate that the critical thinking focus is very much a part of the WCC culture. 
    1. ACA 115 is the student success course that students take within their first thirteen hours at WCC. In this course, students are introduced to the critical thinking model that they encounter in other courses and services. The language of the Paul and Elder model is used in this course and students focus on information, questions, assumptions, and point of view. Students purchase The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools by Paul and Elder along with an in-house text.   Martin Moore, ACA Lead Instructor, and Sheneele Wagoner, Lead Geography Instructor, teach the majority of the ACA 115 courses. This course was scheduled to be fully implemented during fall 2009 but we implemented it a year early due to instructor and staff expectations of students. Service learning and global education and cultural awareness are now part of the course.
    2. WCC instructors submitted critical thinking assignments and student work during fall semester 2008. Assessment of these assignments and student work will begin this semester by faculty members from the different divisions and the QEP Director.
    3. Learning Circles continue to be well attended at WCC. Three cycles of Learning Circles are offered each semester with approximately eight times to choose from. Faculty and staff members participate in one hour dialogue using The Thinker's Guide to The Art of Strategic Thinking Guide, published by the Foundation for Critical Thinking. Facilitators guide the Learning Circles and meet monthly to plan approaches. This is one comment that was made recently: “These sessions have kept me focused on the varying implications of the QEP model.”
    4. Learning Conversations is a new effort involving our Vice President of Instruction and Student Services, Dr. Dean Sprinkle, and a seasoned faculty member from each of the four divisions as well as a relatively new faculty member from each division. Dr. Dean Sprinkle serves as a facilitator and the conversations relate to higher education and our role in student learning.
    5. Two new online workshops have been developed that provide faculty and staff opportunities to work with the language of critical thinking as well as the four outcomes dealing with information, questions, assumptions, and point of view. Blackboard is the platform that participants use to access workshop material. Video clips are also included and a discussion board is available through Blackboard. These workshops were developed for adjunct faculty, new faculty, and new staff members. They also may be helpful for seasoned faculty and staff who are interested in reviewing concepts. Scheduling professional development activities is often difficult so these workshops will allow faculty and staff to participate at a time convenient to them.
    6. The QEP Open Line continues to be published monthly in electronic format and includes critical thinking news and strategies of interest to both faculty and staff.
    7. WCC faculty members have been involved in the development of student learning outcomes in their academic programs. A critical thinking learning outcome is expected in each program.
    8. WCC Advisory Board members assist WCC faculty in reviewing their academic programs. Advisory board members represent organizations and businesses connected to the programs and these members were asked in fall 2008: (a.) Our QEP focus is critical thinking or the skills associated with looking at one’s own thinking for the purpose of improving it. We sometimes use the phrase “reasoning through” a problem, issue, or topic. In your profession or field, what role does critical thinking play in effective performance? (b.) What suggestions do you have for us as we create experiences for students to “reason through” topics, ideas, or situations? How might we better prepare students for the thinking they will be expected to do in the workplace?
    9. The QEP Director recently spent two three hour sessions introducing the Paul and Elder critical thinking model to intermediate Emergency Medical Technology students through our continuing education division.


    You can learn more about the program at Wilkes Community College at this link

    You may also contact Jan Huggins at

    Angelina College:

    Critical Thinking Skills: A Key for Successful Student Learning Outcomes in All Disciplines
    Angelina College has identified three critical thinking learning outcomes consequent to the implementation of critical thinking skills in the curriculum:
    (1) Angelina College administration, faculty, and staff will have a common understanding of the tools and concepts of critical thinking 
    (2) All Divisions will execute tools for teaching critical thinking across the curricula
    (3Graduates of Angelina College will have the ability to adapt and apply critical thinking skills and strategies in their academic, professional and personal lives.

    To evaluate the implementation process and to assess student learning outcomes as they relate to critical thinking, six assessment tools will be utilized: the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), International Critical Thinking Basic Concepts and Understandings Test, Faculty Learning Community (FLC) Student Learning Survey, Student Perception of Critical Thinking in Instruction, Critical Thinking Rubrics, and the Student Learning Outcomes Assessment (SLOA). 

    Angelina College's plan included a Three Phase Implementation Cycle: 

    Phase I- (fall semester)- Professional Development Component
    In the spring, representatives (division facilitators) from each division will begin consulting with the QEP Coordinator.  In addition, these facilitators will attend the annual assessment conference that is held at Texas A&M University.
    Beginning in the fall, the facilitators will attend a planning retreat to initiate the FLC process and schedule critical thinking training sessions.
    The facilitators will be participating in several critical thinking training sessions.  These training sessions involve compiling information and discussing content based on the Paul/Elder model of critical thinking. The curriculum followed is based on information from the text Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Learning and Your Life, 2nd Edition (2006) by Richard Paul and Linda Elder.

    Phase II-(spring semester)- Course Development Component
    The facilitators will use the spring semester to plan for critical thinking implementation.  Each facilitator will select a course to implement formal strategies for teaching and measuring critical thinking based on the Paul/Elder model.  Course portfolios will be utilized for planning.  These portfolios will serve as lesson plans for the course.  Each will include information specific to the course, such as the syllabus, course materials, sample assignments, and how the teaching method and course materials will enhance learning outcomes. Critical thinking instruction and assessment will be delineated in these portfolios.  Upon completion of these course portfolios, the facilitator will have designed a critical thinking enhanced curriculum (CTEC) course.

    Phase III- (fall semester)- Implementation and Assessment Component
    At the beginning of the semester, students enrolled in CTEC courses will be administered the International Critical Thinking Basic Concepts and Understanding Test as a pre-test.  
    One week prior to final exams, the International Critical Thinking Basic Concepts and Understanding Test will be re-administered to assess the attainment of critical thinking skills. In addition, the assessment of teaching strategies and learning outcomes will be measured by utilizing the FLC Student Learning Survey for Faculty and the Student Perceptions of Critical Thinking in Instruction.
    The pre and post-test scores from the International Critical Thinking Basic Concepts and Understanding Test will be compared to baseline scores on the California Critical Thinking Skills Test that was collected in April 2007.
    The QEP Advisory Committee and the facilitators will review all collected data and determine the effectiveness of instruction.  The group will then use the compiled data to recommend additional strategies and any changes for continuous improvement for the teaching and learning of critical thinking skills.
    Angelina College plans to continue their implementation process beyond 2010. 
    You can read more about Angelina College's QEP Plan and Implementation of critical thinking in their curriculum on their website- 
    For more information about the program, please contact:
    Monica Y. Peters, Ph.D.
    Coordinator of Institutional Effectiveness and QEP 
    Angelina College
    Lufkin, TX
    (936) 633-5250

    For a more complete description, please download the file at the link below.

    Files available for download  »
  • Implementation Plan

  • Beacon College:

    Enhancing Critical Thinking for Students with Learning Disabilities 

    The goal of the Beacon College Quality Enhancement Plan is to improve student learning through the development of critical thinking skills by using the standards and elements of the Paul/Elder Model. The initial phase of the QEP is directed to implementing a comprehensive faculty professional development program. Professional development activities will focus on educating faculty in the use of the elements and standards of the Paul/Elder Model. 
    The mission of Beacon College is to provide educational opportunities for college-able students with learning disabilities and to assist them in achieving their academic potential. Engaging students in critical thinking and fostering concept development is vital in addressing the characteristics that many students with learning disabilities bring to the classroom environment.
    The student learning outcomes for the Beacon College QEP are to: 
    1. Improve student disposition toward critical thinking.
    2. Employ the elements of critical thinking to academic disciplines.
    3. Employ the standards of critical thinking to academic disciplines.
    4. Develop an understanding of the fundamental and powerful concepts of an academic discipline.
    Several benefits of implementation of the Beacon College QEP have already been realized. The College has strengthened as a community with a common goal and a shared language for improving the quality of the educational experiences of our students. Not only has the faculty embraced changes in which the Institution approaches instruction, but the participation of the all units and departments has helped the College emerge as a learning community. Beacon College has also established an Institute of Critical Thinking acting as a critical thinking resource center not only for the campus community, but also as a professional development resource for other institutions.
    It is anticipated that implementation of the QEP will result in increased student disposition for using critical thinking skills in every aspect of their lives. Outcomes of the QEP will not only increase the quality of education provided our students, but will also contribute to research in the field of learning disabilities. Opportunity exists for the College to conduct a longitudinal study investigating five-year outcomes, as measured by the California Critical Thinking Disposition Instrument (CCTDI), between students with learning disabilities and their non-learning disabled peers using the databank of colleges and universities that have completed the outcomes of their QEPs measuring disposition toward critical thinking.

    For more information about the development or implementation of the plan, please contact:
    Dr. Johnny Good, Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Accreditation Liaison.

    Please see this link for additional information: