Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, Form-S for Education Majors

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal-Form S was a reliable and valid instrument to measure critical thinking for students pursuing a teaching career. The participants were 137 students enrolled in Educational Psychology. The data showed that the alpha for the total WGCTA-FS was .76 and the split-half correlation was r = .44. The total WGCTA-FS score correlated significantly with course grades r = .32, p <. 01. Since the range of the course grades was large, further analyses were done to determine the differences between high-grade and low-grade achievers on the WGCTA-FS.


The importance of critical thinking and the teaching of such skills have been widely emphasized (Ennis, 1987; College Board, 1983; Task Forces on Education and Economic Growth of the Education Commission, 1983). The questions often asked are (a) what instrument(s) can best measure critical thinking and (b) whether critical thinking skills are related to academic course performances. In a survey, McMillan (1987) indicated that the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, WGCTA (Watson & Glaser, 1980) Forms A and B were the most frequently used inventory at the post-secondary level to measure critical thinking. However, many researchers felt that the WGCTA, Forms A and B (consisting of 80 items) were long and time-consuming inventories. As a result, subjects did not complete them.

In 1994a, Watson and Glaser prepared an abbreviated version, Form S, of the original Form A. Several researchers have used the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal, Form S (WGCTA-FS). Loo and Thorpe (1999) used the Form S in a study with a sample of management (n= 142) and nursing (n=123) undergraduates and evaluated its psychometric properties and facture structure. They indicated a limited support for the Form-S inventory due to (a) poor to moderate internal consistency reliabilities of scores on the subtests and (b) poor to moderate information on the confirmatory factor analysis underlying the critical thinking constructs. Williams (2001) used the Form S with three groups (total 428) of undergraduate Educational Psychology students and reported that the WGCTA-FS had the strongest overall prediction of test performance when compared to the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (Facione & Facione, 1994) and the Psychological Critical Thinking (Lawson, 1999). Williams (2001) also studied subgroups, e.g., high-grade students (those making As on multiple-choice tests) with low-grade students (those making Ds and Fs). The high-grade group scored significantly higher than the low-grade group on both the preand posttests on critical thinking measures. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the WGCTA-FS was a reliable and valid instrument to measure critical thinking for a small group of students pursuing the teaching career.


Subjects: The participants were 137 students enrolled in Educational Psychology classes (a foundation course in the teacher training program) at a state university. In this group, there were 28 men and 109 women, of which 27 were sophomores, 44 juniors, and 68 seniors.

Instrument: The scores on the WGCTA-FS and grades in Educational Psychology course were the data analyzed. The WGCTA-FS has 40 multiple-choice items, with item options ranging from 2 to 5. Respondents are provided five scenarios and asked to judge the potential conclusions to the presented data. These scenarios provide scores for five subtests ranging from 0 to 40. The description of the five subtests are: (1) Inference: discriminating among degrees of truth or falsity of inference drawn from given data. (2) Recognition of Assumptions: recognizing unstated assumptions or presuppositions in given statements or assertions. (3) Deductions: determining whether certain conclusions necessarily follow from information in given statements or premises. …