/ Boerigter Center for Calling and Career

Digital Badge Initiative

Critical Thinking Digital BadgeCritical Thinking Badge

Badge earners think critically to solve complex, ambiguous challenges.

Employers want candidates who can clearly exhibit critical thinking in their work. To adapt and thrive in a constantly changing global work environment, employees must think critically — but employers state that few college graduates have the critical thinking skills required by today's workforce.

To address this skills gap, Hope College's pilot program develops and assesses critical thinking skills through an innovative, rigorously vetted process. Students learn to think critically in any setting, and they actively engage in ongoing analysis, interpretation and evaluation.

Four modules

Each of these learning modules requires specific skills. 

Analyzing a specific problem from a co-curricular experience
  • Formulating questions
  • Gathering, organizing and analyzing information
  • Proposing a solution
Exercising sound reasoning in a current course
  • Gaining perspective on another person’s point of view or a theory in your field or major
  • Generating reasons for your point of view
  • Deciding what information to accept or reject
  • Explaining complicated ideas
  • Applying quality control as you think, thereby resisting unfounded claims
  • Concluding/making decisions
Using a research project to obtain, interpret and use information
  • Gathering pertinent information
  • Analyzing information
  • Using information to propose a solution to the problem
  • Summarizing a research project
Using an interview to demonstrate making a decision
  • Curiosity, inquisitiveness
  • Recognition that contexts are characterized by complexity rather than simplicity
  • Recognition that critical thinking needs to be practiced to be developed
  • Comparison of a problem being addressed to other problems
  • Decision making
  • Ability to articulate the learning experiences you have had

Faculty, staff and human resources personnel use a specific learning rubric to review each student's work in these modules. Reviewers assess whether the work is solution-focused and demonstrates clarity, rigorous consideration and synthesis.

Students need an average pass rate of 80% to earn their digital badge in critical thinking.

“Critical thinking is foundational to effective leadership in any organization. The ability to discern informative from peripheral information, synthesize key data and combine it with courage to make strategic decisions, is a distinguishing attribute of all successful leaders. This is particularly true in our current culture where the velocity of change is unprecedented thus making traditional paradigms unreliable. The liberal arts education is a great laboratory to develop and hone these skills. For those who do, the future is indeed bright!”

—Doug Peterson, VP, Human Resources, Shape Corporation