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Critical Thinking in Students' Ethical Reasoning: A Reflection on Some Examples from the Swedish National Test in Religious Education

Chapter in book
Authors Kristoffer Larsson
Published in Assessment in Ethics Education. A Case of National Tests in Religious Education.
Pages 51-67
ISBN 978-3-319-50768-2
Publisher Springer International Publishing AG
Place of publication Cham, Switzerland
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies
Pages 51-67
Language en
Keywords Critical Thinking, Ethics, Assessment
Subject categories


To reason about ethical issues in a thoughtful manner is often seen as a desirable human ability if one is to live a responsible life, both as an individual and as a member of society. Taking its point of departure in Professor of Ethics Daniel Lee’s non-confessional approach to ethics education and Professor of Education Robert Ennis’s definition of critical thinking, this chapter reflects on manifestations of critical thinking in 9th graders’ responses to two tasks concerning ethical issues in the Swedish national tests in religious education. The reflection tries to describe and discuss some critical-thinking skills that are manifested and how these vary among the analysed student responses. The reflection also considers how task design may affect opportunities for students to manifest critical thinking. Further, the reflection discusses whether critical thinking could be a feasible focus point when testing, measuring and assessing students’ ethical reasoning, in order to avoid mixing personal and societal ethical values into the processes of testing, measuring and assessing this kind of reasoning.

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