Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Evaluating the Level of Critical Thinking in Introductory Investments Courses

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Evaluating the Level of Critical Thinking in Introductory Investments Courses

Article excerpt


Holly Dolezalek (2003), referencing Roger Shank the chief education officer at Carnegie Mellon West, writes "education by lecture in a classroom was an idea from the Middle Ages, when not everyone could read and there weren't enough textbooks to go around anyway.--not only are the conditions that produced the lecture environment gone, cognitive research indicates that people don't retain information minutes after they hear it. He endorsed--small discussion groups and project work, but he believed--the usual undergraduate degree with emphasis on lectures, large classes, and multiple choice tests--was useless" (p. 60).

The learning process has to be more than just the sharing of knowledge. Students in finance classes often fail to "integrate knowledge, see the connections among textbook chapters, or apply course concepts to real world questions" (Robertson, Peterson, & Bean, 2004, p. 16). The development and implementation of teaching and/or learning strategies appropriate for the investment course curriculum is a critical factor for the success of finance students. Some areas of study in investments are more complex or advanced than others requiring materials to be presented at different learning levels depending on course objectives. Testing should cover all levels of material presented to determine what students have mastered. It appears that most testing activities focus on remembering and understanding definitions and concepts. Learning is limited to a shallow level and critical thinking is not emphasized or evaluated. Bloom's taxonomy is a useful tool that can assist the professor in testing and instructional evaluation.

The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it attempts to stimulate debate and thinking about the limitations of the traditional focus of testing on lower levels of learning related to investments and the value created for investments students by testing of higher level process dimensions. Second, it shows the application of the updated version of Bloom's (1956) taxonomy of the cognitive domain as presented by Anderson and Krathwohl (2001) in financial education in general and specifically in investments education testing. Anderson and Krathwohl's new version of Benjamin Bloom's (1956) taxonomy proposes six hierarchal and cumulative levels of testing to measure different levels of learning and is the latest revision to Bloom's taxonomy. This paper will review and provide example test questions for each of the levels of the new version of Bloom's taxonomy. The methodology for constructing the sample questions consists of constructing investments assessment questions and then classifying the questions according the highest possible level of the Anderson and Krathwohl update to Bloom's taxonomy. The examples provided will assist the investments instructor in developing tests to measure the level of student mastery of the subject. Through these assessment tools, professors will be better able to insure that students acquire the skills and competences required in today's financial markets.


Many university faculty believe that critical thinking should be a primary objective of a college education (Yuretich, 2004). Yet most faculty believe that critical thinking cannot be assessed or they have no method for doing so (Beyer, 1984; Cromwell, 1992; and Aviles, 1999). Consider a 1995 study from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing in California and the Center for Critical Thinking at Sonoma State University (Paul, Elder, & Bartell, 1997). These groups initiated a study of college and university faculty throughout California to assess current teaching practices and knowledge of critical thinking. They found that although 89 percent of the faculty surveyed claimed that critical thinking is a primary objective in their courses, only 19 percent could explain what critical thinking is, and only 9 percent of these faculty were teaching critical thinking in any apparent way (Paul et al. …

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