Assessing critical thinking in L2: An exploratory study

Article appearing in Shiken 25.1 (June 2021) pp. 8-21;
Issue DOI:

Sam Reid1 and Peter Chin2
1. Rikkyo University
2. Waseda University Academic Solutions Corporation
Article DOI:


Critical thinking (CT) is taking on an increasingly important role in Japanese tertiary education. Teachers tasked with developing CT in a second- language (L2) context may need a way of assessing students’ abilities. However, a number of difficulties face L2 students taking a test designed for first-language (L1) speakers. They may be disadvantaged by linguistic and perhaps cultural issues. This study describes an exploratory attempt to make a CT test that can be administered to learners of English and which allows them to display selected elements of CT, specifically analyzing arguments and judging or evaluating. A comparison of L1 and L2 performance in the test showed the results to be comparable. Analysis of two different question topics showed differences in CT skills displayed. Issues with rating accuracy are linked to the format of the test. We argue that this test format is suitable for many students in Japan and elsewhere who have intermediate levels of English.

Keywords: critical thinking, discourse, cognitive load

Download full article (PDF)

JALT Conference 2022