Harris (2011) reviewed the literature and identified 120 elements considered by researchers and educators as important for critical thinking. Like elements were grouped together. Two survey instruments were then developed based on the listing of 18 critical thinking skills and designed to identify those skills that would provide the highest training payoff. The first instrument was designed to collect data from a sample of 73 intelligence analysts at a software user’s national conference in Washington DC following a 60-minute presentation on critical thinking. The second instrument employed a similar, expanded approach to collect data from six instructors who conduct intelligence analysis training and 14 students who had just completed a two-week course on intelligence analysis. Analyses of these data identified 11 critical thinking skills that appeared to have the highest payoff for intelligence analysis and mapped these skills to four specific intelligence analysis functions:

  • assess and integrate information,
  • organize information into premises,
  • develop hypotheses, and
  • test hypotheses.
    He then developed specifications for the development of web-based training on these skills, and developed and installed on-line prototype demonstrations of a critical thinking strategies overview module and a module for one of the 11 specific skills—consider valuecost-risk tradeoffs in seeking additional information. The 11 critical thinking skills are listed and mapped to intelligence analysis functions in Figure 4. A description of each skill is provided below, related to the intelligence analysis function it serves.


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