Title

Explicit Integration of Critical Thinking into Content Area Instruction

Date of Completion

8-31-1991

Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Abstract

Educators have acknowledged the need for the development of critical thinking skills in students. While most students are able to complete basic curriculum, requirements, teachers have found that many of them are unable to transfer skills to other content areas or beyond the academic environment. Consequently, the last decade has witnessed the rise of carefully planned programs designed to instill strong critical thinking skills in students. Many of these programs are narrow in their focus, while others use a more comprehensive and practical approach, namely integrating critical thinking skills into content area instruction. The Curriculum Development Project presented in his thesis endorses the latter approach and is written for middle and high school age students. The supporting foundation for this thesis is based primarily on Costa's Theory of Metacognition, Sternberg's Triarchic Theory of Intelligence and Perkins' Thinking Frames. The thesis centers around three model lessons which contain the elements essential to a successfully critical thinking program. Explicit statements of skill and content area objectives are established and a thinking motivator introduces each lesson. A metacognitive component of planning, monitoring and evaluating progress is designed to enable students to assume responsibility and accountability for their progress. The teaching process is clearly described in the model lessons. Emphasis is placed on attitudes and dispositions which the teacher must demonstrate in order to create a non-judgmental atmosphere in which critical thinking is fostered. Various methodologies such as group work, collaborative learning and class discussions are described, as are the evaluative methods used to assess student learning. The critical element of transfer of skills to other contexts and life situations is emphasized. Appendices which follow the lessons offer cohesive definitions of the relevant terminology. This thesis acknowledges that teachers must re-evaluate their roles in the classroom, so that they shift the emphasis from being lecturers to facilitators or mediators, using their knowledge and expertise as resource people who model the kind of thinking behavior that they desire from students. In so doing they enable students to become independent, reflective thinkers, with a sense of empowerment over their present and future lives.

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