Students Evaluate Their Reasoning Using Universal Intellectual standards


                                        Image Obtained from Google images Safe Search

Paul-Elder framework (2001) has three components intellectual standards, elements of thought and intellectual traits. My personal interpretation for the figure above (University of LouiseVille, n.d.) is that the three components are placed in the form of a formula where the latter is the desired output obtained from the integration of the subsequent inputs. In other word, from an educator perspective, for students to develop their intellectual traits they should identify the elements of their thinking/reasoning, and universal intellectual standards that will enable them to evaluate  their reasoning elements using the appropriate standards. In this post I will focus on these two dimensions essential for developing intellectual traits, let’s start by a brief explanation to the nine universal intellectual standards:

  • Clarity: To what extent points given understood by myself and others
  • Precision: To what extent the information exact and specific to the necessary level
  • Accuracy: To what extent the information is correct and true
  • Relevance: To what extent what the information is relevant to the issue in hand
  • Depth: to what extent learners engaged the complexities of the topic
  • Breadth: to what the information is associated to contexts and other relationships
  • Logic: to what extent results are evident based and how logically and consistently it defends its position
  • Fairness: to what extent is the ability to avoid bias?
  • Significance: to what extent is the ability to focus on important aspects of the topic?

Now the question is how students can use those standards to evaluate the quality of their reasoning. As seen in the figure above, there are eight elements of thought/reasoning. In the following table I placed each of these eight elements with some of the appropriate standards that can this part in the form of questions.

Element of Thought/Reasoning Examples for appropriate standards 
 1- Has purpose/goal: Students can question the following questions to assess the purpose of their work:

  • Is the purpose/ goals clear?
  • Is the purpose significant or trivial or somewhere in between?
 2- Is an attempt to   solve some problem: Students can assess if their solutions were formulated correctly if they check

  • Did they follow the logical to reach this solution ?
  • Is the solution placed in a relevant way?
 3- Is based on assumptions: Students must articulate their assumptions and question

  • Are those assumptions stated clearly or unclearly, significant or superfluous, persistent or contradictory?
4- Is done from some point of view: When student articulate their point of view, they can question

  • Is the opinion provided fair ,clearly stated and consistently adhered to.
 5- Is based on data, information and evidence: When students gather evidence based data, the information should checked to be clear, fair, and accurate and they can question:

  •  is the data gathered relevant? is the data accurate or was twisted out to fit our own point of view?
 6- Is expressed through concepts and ideas: Students must identify their own level of  understanding of concepts and question

  • Are the concepts they use in their reasoning clear ones? Are their ideas relevant to the issue at hand
 7- Contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions: Students evaluate the inferences in their reasoning by checking:

  • Do they draw deep conclusions or do they stick to the trivial and superficial?
  • Are the conclusions they draw consistent?
8- Has implications and consequence: Students to come to evaluate implications in their reasoning by questioning :

  • Can they identify significant and realistic implications, or have they limited themselves to unimportant and unrealistic ones?
  • Have they stated the implications of their views clearly and precisely or not?


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