ceptions of critical thinking and problem solving and then with the issue of transferring skills from one domain to another.

Critical Thinking: Domain-Specific or Domain-General

It is well established, Kuncel stated, that foundational cognitive skills in math, reading, and writing are of central importance and that students need to be as proficient as possible in these areas. Foundational cognitive abilities, such as verbal comprehension and reasoning, mathematical knowledge and skill, and writing skills, are clearly important for success in learning in college as well as in many aspects of life. A recent study documents this. Kuncel and Hezlett (2007) examined the body of research on the relationships between traditional measures of verbal and quantitative skills and a variety of outcomes. The measures of verbal and quantitative skills included scores on six standardized tests—the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, GMAT, MAT, and PCAT.2 The outcomes included performance in graduate school settings ranging from Ph.D. programs to law school, medical school, business school, and pharmacy programs. Figure 2-1 shows the correlations between scores on the standardized tests and the various outcome measures, including (from bottom to top) first-year graduate GPA (1st GGPA), cumulative graduate GPA (GGPA), qualifying or comprehensive examination scores, completion of the degree, estimate of research productivity, research citation counts, faculty ratings, and performance on the licensing exam for the profession. For instance, the top bar shows a correlation between performance on the MCAT and performance on the licensing exam for physicians of roughly .65, the highest of the correlations reported in this figure. The next bar indicates the correlation between performance on the LSAT and performance on the licensing exam for lawyers is roughly .35. Of the 34 correlations shown in the figure, all but 11 are over .30. Kuncel characterized this information as demonstrating that verbal and quantitative skills are important predictors of success based on a variety of outcome measures, including performance on standardized tests, whether or not people finish their degree program, how their performance is evaluated by faculty, and their contribution to the field.

Kuncel has also studied the role that broader abilities have in predicting future outcomes. A more recent review (Kuncel and Hezlett, 2010) examined the body of research on the relationships between measures of general cognitive ability (historically referred to as IQ) and job outcomes,


2Respectively, the Graduate Record Exam, Medical College Admission Test, Law School Admission Test, Graduate Management Admission Test, Miller Analogies Test, and Pharmacy College Admission Test.

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