Critical Thinking Considerations for an Elementary Science Magnet School

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Carol Smith


As an African-American and a veteran Boston school teacher, I feel that there is great cause for concern about the future of urban African-American youth. Existing instructional programs fail to meet the needs of many of these children. The model science magnet school developed in this thesis will provide an educational alternative for African-American youth entering the twenty-first century. The school's program will combine the teaching of critical and creative thinking skills, with science education, and efficacy training to address the academic and personal development of the total child. Chapter I of the thesis looks at some existing programs in elementary science education and assesses the need for more intensive, innovative programs which will deal with the affective as well as the cognitive growth of students. Chapter II explores some of the literature concerning the complexity of Black self-concept in White America. It links self-esteem with academic success. Here I give a personal commentary on the self-esteem literature as well as examine several efficacy approaches. The chapter concludes with reflections on the relationship between efficacy training and critical and creative thinking. It talks about the importance of metacognition in enabling children to take control of their own learning. Chapter III discusses the need for a science magnet-exploring the scientific process skills as a way of developing thinking skills. The chapter includes a review of the current status and recommendations for teaching science in elementary schools and goes on to examine teaching for conceptual change, elements of a supportive learning environment, techniques for promoting critical and creative thinking, and a framework for curriculum design.Chapter IV gives an overview of the entire magnet school program, delineating how I plan to combine the science focus with affective goals. Teacher training, parent involvement, and assessment are also discussed. Chapter V. the last chapter, focuses on ways of bringing together these diverse strands within the proposed curriculum and presents some sample lesson plans which include objectives in the area of social/emotional development, cooperative learning, and efficacy as well as conceptual change and behavioral objectives.


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