Evaluation is closely associated with critical thinking. Some writers such as Beyer(1985), D’Angelo (1971), and Yinger (1980) seem to equate “critical thinking” with“evaluation.” Most theorists, however, describe critical thinking as including evaluation amongseveral other higher order thinking processes such as problem solving, decision making, andanalysis (Cromwell, 1992; Ennis, 1989; Paul & Elder, 2001). Another key relevant theory isBloom’s Taxonomy of cognitive skills, which places evaluation at the top (or most complex) of arange of thinking activity (Bloom, Engelhart, Furst, Hill, & Krathworhl, 1956). Because of theseties between evaluation and critical thinking, much theory and research about critical thinkinginforms an understanding of evaluation.Within the critical thinking paradigm, evaluation is defined as the making of judgmentsabout the value, for some purpose, of ideas, works, solutions, methods, etc. The target of evaluation can be an object, as in a piece of art, an idea, or a person. Most writers list componentprocesses such as finding inconsistencies, comparing and contrasting, and judging by criteria(Ennis, 1987). When information is the object of evaluation, a person typically studies it forreliability, quality, credibility, and personal usefulness. These qualities overlap in meaning, buttogether they describe what a person considers when judging information, leading to the idea of criteria discussed later.Bloom et al. (1956) also acknowledge a “link with the affective behaviors” (p. 185), dueto the inclusion of values. This affective link is richly born out in empirical literature, leadingoften to biases, to be discussed later.Within the world of education, it is vital to note that standardized tests provide onlyrudimentary measures of critical thinking and information literacy (Dunn, 2002; Partnership for21
Century Skills). This shortcoming is understandable when given the parameters of rapid,mass assessment. Unfortunately, standardized testing tends to drive curriculum. Therefore,difficult-to-assess skills like critical thinking and information literacy are often neglectedsystematically in schools.
Although the relationship between metacognition and evaluation may not be readilyapparent, effective evaluation may not be possible without at least some thinking about one’sSkills: Fitzgerald 3