Research on Critical Thinking Skills

The articles below include some of the most recent research on Critical Thinking, one of the Core Student Success Skills being promoted by the Strategies for Success program at Middlesex. We encourage faculty and staff to access full text copies of these articles through Middlenet.

Bailin, S., Case, R., Coombs, J., & Daniels, L. (1999). Common Misconceptions of Critical Thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 269-83. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT In this paper, the first of two, we analyse three widely-held conceptions of critical thinking, as one or more skills, as mental processes, and as sets of procedures. Each view is, we contend, wrongheaded, misleading or, at best, unhelpful. Some who write about critical thinking seem to muddle all three views in an unenlightening melange. Apart from the errors or inadequacies of the conceptions themselves, they promote or abet misconceived practices for teaching critical thinking. Together, they have led to the view that critical thinking is best taught by practising it. We offer alternative proposals for the teaching of critical thinking.

Celuch, K., & Slama, M. (1999). Teaching Critical Thinking Skills for the 21st Century: An Advertising Principles Case Study. Journal of Education for Business, 74(3), 134-39. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT A brief narrative description of the journal article, document, or resource. Describes how to teach business using critical thinking methods and how to assess elements of critical thinking including standards for judging it. Illustrates teaching methods, materials, and student activities for a course using a critical thinking approach to advertising principles.

Choy, S., & Cheah, P. (2009). Teacher Perceptions of Critical Thinking among Students and Its Influence on Higher Education. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 20(2), 198-206. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT The concept of critical thinking was featured in taxonomies a few decades ago. Critical thinking is a complex process that requires higher levels of cognitive skills in the processing of information. The teachers' perceptions of critical thinking among students influence their behaviors in the classroom. It has been found that teachers perceive they are teaching critical thinking to their students and believe that critical thinking will provide the intellectual stimuli that will facilitate critical thinking...Although teachers perceive that they are encouraging critical thinking in the classroom, they are merely focusing on the comprehension of the subject matter.

Gantt, V. (1996). The Case Method in Teaching Critical Thinking. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT The question of whether discussion is a crucial variable in teachers' learning from cases has not been tested empirically. This study investigated what teachers understood from just reading and writing about a case, compared to what they thought when also discussing it. The quality, form, and content of the thinking of 8 student teachers, 8 beginning teachers, and 8 experienced teachers was examined. Quantitative and qualitative analyses of participants' writing and oral discourse from the case discussions were undertaken. The work of Piaget and Vygotsky provide the theoretical basis for interpreting how discussion affected teachers' thinking about cases.

Hatcher, D. (2006). Stand-Alone versus Integrated Critical Thinking Courses. Journal of General Education, 55247-272. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT For well over 25 years, critical thinking has been declared an educational ideal. However, though institutions are committed to teaching "critical thinking" (CT), there are numerous important questions that need careful treatment if this goal is to be met. First, the faculties must arrive at a shared understanding of what they mean by the phrase "critical thinking." This is because one's conception of CT will determine what courses or materials are included in the attempt to enhance students' CT skills. This in turn will lead to questions of pedagogy. That is, just how is it that these skills are best taught? Although the first of these questions is important, this article will focus on the second. Given recent assessment data, what sort of general approach is most effective for teaching CT? This author suggests that, given more recent, as well as substantial, studies, the data indicate that an integrated approach to teaching CT yields greater pre- to post-test gains on a variety of standardized CT tests than a typical stand-alone CT/informal logic course. This essay also includes data from a lengthy longitudinal study of freshman to senior gains in critical thinking abilities. These data also support the position that an integrated approach is to be preferred. The article will end by proposing a series of hypotheses that may account for the success of the integrated programs relative to stand-alone courses

Pawlowski, D. (1997). Challenging Students to Think: Making Critical Thinking and Writing Central to the "Basic" Course. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT Many times, college students are exposed to the communication discipline solely through the basic public speaking course, allowing limited opportunity to experience critical thinking and writing within the discipline. This paper examines the importance of teaching critical thinking and writing skills in the basic course, encouraging educators to develop students' cognitive intellect through the application of these skills.

Robinson, S. (1996). Teaching Critical Thinking at the Community College. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT Teaching critical thinking is what employers ask of educators and what teachers expect from their students. This paper attempts to reestablish the importance of critical thinking and how Valencia Community College's (Florida) critical thinking competency can be developed using several teaching models. A discussion is provided on the background of critical thinking, specifically where critical thinking skills come from. These skills have to be learned and fine-tuned with the assistance and guidance of an external entity. Competency I of a Valencia Community College graduate states that each graduate should be able to "think critically and make reasoned choices by acquiring, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating knowledge." Nine Valencia sub-competencies that can be used in the process of assessing and measuring critical thinking, include: (1) know what to observe and systematically make accurate observations; (2) represent observations in an appropriate pattern to show relationships; (3) recognize problems that need to be and can be solved; (4) use sequential and holistic approaches to problem solving; and (5) analyze information and ideas to make decisions. Some models of teaching that fit easily into the critical thinking competency are concept attainment, scientific inquiry, inquiry training, simulation, role playing, thinking inductively, advanced organizer, and synetics. This paper concludes with some activities instructors can use to develop critical thinking in the classroom. (VWC)

van Gelder, T. (2005). Teaching Critical Thinking: Some Lessons from Cognitive Science. College Teaching, 53(1), 41. Retrieved from ERIC database.

ABSTRACT This article draws six key lessons from cognitive science for teachers of critical thinking. The lessons are: acquiring expertise in critical thinking is hard; practice in critical-thinking skills themselves enhances skills; the transfer of skills must be practiced; some theoretical knowledge is required; diagramming arguments ("argument mapping") promotes skill; and students are prone to belief preservation. The article provides some guidelines for teaching practice in light of these lessons.

Last Modified: 8/5/12