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The Long Term Efficacy of Critical Thinking and Questioning: A Student Perspective

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Jennifer Dorsey

on 9 April 2013

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Transcript of The Long Term Efficacy of Critical Thinking and Questioning: A Student Perspective

A Student Perspective The Long Term Efficacy of Critical Thinking & Questioning The global community today's students enter is one in which "yesterday's answers won't solve today's problems" and one in which they will be expected to confront the challenge of doing "things that haven't been done before" (Wagner, 2008, p.21).
Despite this fact, the value of critical thinking and questioning is overlooked in classrooms. Literature Review Problem Statement: International Baccalaureate Program Critical Thinking & Questioning Critical thinking and questioning skills are essential for students success in the new global economy, and "the heart of critical thinking and problem solving is the ability to ask the right questions" (Wagner, 2008, p. 21).
"People who've learned to ask great questions and have learned to be inquisitive are the ones who move the fastest in our environment because they solve the biggest problems in ways that havethe most impact on innovation" (Wagner, 2008, p. 22).
"Questions are the most essential material for supporting thinking process because activating thinking process are important for providing the person to learn effectively" (Acar & Kilic, 2008, 173). Student Voice Research into student voice initiatives has shown that "such efforts can actually improve teachers' classroom practices" (Mitra, 2008, p.20).
Not only can giving students a voice in the classroom lead to better instruction, it also can improve "student-teacher relationships and more empowered students" (p.21).
One key reason for this is that students see problems differently (Mitra, 2008).
"Young people have unique perspectives on learning, teaching, and schooling that their insights warrant not only our attention but also the responses of adults and that they should be afforded opportunities to actively shape their education" (Thiessen, 2006, p. 345).
Opportunities for students to shape their education creates a sense of shared authority (Thiessen, 2006). Theoretical Framework Constructionist epistemological view with a deep grain of social constructionism because culture "shapes the way in which we see things (even the way in which we feel things!) and gives us a quite definite view of the world" (Crotty, 1998, p. 58). Methods Research Design Data Collection Significance of the study: Few researchers are asking college students to reflect on the efficacy of their K-12 experience.
Therefore asking these students how they perceive the relationship between questioning and critical thinking and their current education could provide insight into how to better instill these skills in students as well as provide an understanding of whether or not they feel prepared to meet the needs of a global society. Research Purpose and Questions: As a lens to understand the relationship between critical thinking developed through discussion and questioning and educational success, I seek to understand how former IB English students now enrolled in college perceive the long term impact of critical thinking and questioning.
To understand this, my study asks:
How do college students perceive the questioning and thinking strategies taught through oral presentations and discussions as affecting their current learning?
How do these students perceive the role of critical questioning an learning?
What are their perceptions of the connections between oral and written critical thinking?
How do these students engage in their learning environment? Created in 1968, the IB Programme "is a demanding course of study that includes rigorous evaluations for students and both support and professional development for teachers" (Pace & Standiford, 2003, 57).
IB Students take a class in critical thinking called TOK that "examines the nature of learning and process of knowledge acquisition" (Karnes & Nugent, 2002).
In English, the evaluations include "oral expression" and "personal response" that require students to "speak eloquently and responsibly about a work of literature" in student designed presentations(Pace & Standiford, 2003, 58). Epistemological Stance Theoretical Perspectives We need to be critical of the forces shaping our understanding and how the forces work to shape and "supports particular power structures, resists moves towards greater equity, and harbours oppression (p. 59-60).
This understanding currently exists in a postmodern framework that rejects clear cut distinctions (194).
Foucault believes culture is a construct of powers that act to shape people, even operating "behind our backs" (Kamberlis & Dimitriadis, 2005, p. 46).
This notion works well with Freire's critical inquiry and praxis since Freire is concerned with language's power to shape society as well as people's ability to critically engage in the world (Crotty, 1998, p. 152).
Why??? Social change can happen in a postmodern framework, but we need to be aware of the powers shaping us in order to work to reshape them. Connection to Research Ideally I hope to understand critical thinking because it helps students critique their own understandings and make meaning for themselves. These tools will empower them to shape their lives and futures.
Currently, I am exploring their perception of critically thinking, but ultimately I would also like to explore their perceptions of the power structures as well. Case study: The bounded system is that all the potential participants were all enrolled in the same IB English class in high school, and they are now all currently enrolled in college. Sampling Criterion sampling--all participants must have taken IB English for two years and be in college Participant An eighteen-year-old, Korean, male freshman who attends a prominent Texas university. Site Description & Role Both the observation and interview were conducted via Skype. The participant skyped from his dorm room.
For the observation, I was a privileged observer.
The interview was semi-structured. Archival Data James Paul Gee's "Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses, Critical Perspectives on Literacy and Education.
IB Rubric for Oral Discussion
Standardized Socratic Seminar Rubric Data Analysis Because my observation was conducted as a "think aloud", I analyzed the data for both the observation and interview similarly using inductive reasoning (LeCompte & Preissle, 1993).
Observation: expanded field notes, coded, looked for emerging categories.
Interview: transcribed the interview, organized based on research questions, coded, and themes. Preliminary Findings Observation Oral response patterns parallel written response as taught in IB showing a connection between how he sees the two processes.
Oral responses included key features of a thorough written: stating stance, textual support, interpretation
In relation to engaging in his learning environment, the participant discussed how he "analyzed the structure" of the text to understand the material. Interview Related to the idea of connections between oral thinking and learning, NowEat stated, “I definitely convey my ideas way better than I did before joining IB English. Um, verbally…IB English really teaches you, like I said previously, to elaborate more and think on a higher level, but it also.... just teaches you, the oral aspect teaches you. Know what your talking about. Make sure you are clear in what you say. And think on a higher level and that is what the oral aspect taught me in IB English.” This statement reveals an assumed connection by the participant between higher level, or critical thinking skills, and the oral skills taught in IB. Also conveyed is the idea that discussions taught him to elaborate on ideas and clearly state them.
When asked about the importance of writing in IB English, NowEat revealed “one of the things about the socratic seminars and the discussion groups is we always had to have textual evidence and that was a really big basis of our essays and papers in IB English, so that kind of translates to the writing styles” showing an assumed connection between the need to use textual evidence in both oral and written arguments. Strengths & Weaknesses already established rapport and a fixed reference point for prior educational experiences.
As a researcher, I have been trained in not asking leading questions.
Since I am IB trained I have a thorough background in the program. potential credibility issue since I was the teacher, so I have a firm perspective on the past experience. Will need to member check and carefully triangulate.
Transferability also may be an issue since all the potential participants share a common high school background and so the findings may not transfer. Strengths Weaknesses Future Direction This will become my thesis project, so I will be expanding the study to include more participants. I hope to interview approximately 15 students to get a more thorough understanding of how students perceive the issues.
Eventually in future studies I would like to explore how students perceive school power structures as affecting their ability to develop critical thinking, with a particular focus on standardized testing as well.
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