April 6, 2008
The end of the semester is coming, I have learned a lot from building the blog.
I have learned how to use blog. I can communicate with my dear doctor and friends on internet. It’s so wonderful. I enjoy this kind of communication. It is convenient and fast. I don’t have to make a date in advance , I can post my views anytime, and my friends can see them and comment on them when they are free.
I think I will continue use blog in my future learning process.
March 31, 2008
BLOOM’S revised taxonomy includes:
Creating confuse me. E.g. someone use a new idea to teach students, and I use this idea. Is it still a creative idea??
These days I’m very busy. Sometimes I thought Why we must use Critical Thinking when we teach students? Why not just use the traditional way to teach.?
I have being trained to study in a traditional way, teacher just reads the book, tell me what is right, and gives me many assignments. I review these after class. I received knowledge in this way. Now I have grown up. I think everything is OK. Because it’s very difficult to go to the public university in China. And the private collages can not being approbated. There’s no time to do activities, use creative teaching method. Every teacher has to catch up the plan. Students have to have lessons in weekend, holiday or even during the Spring festvial. When I came to malaysia, I think here is students’ heaven. I often see secondary school’s students go to the emporium after class. They’re so relax. I really can’t understand. Maybe different country has different culture.
We are supposed to have a prepractium this year. It’s a good chance to observe how do malaysia teachers teach students. And how do they make students so relax.
March 17, 2008
This week we have learned COGNITIVE and META-COGNITIVE SKILLS.
We have already learned something about cognitive and meta-cognitive skills in Teaching Strategies course last semester. But I almost forgot the two definitions. It’s my fault…
It’s a good chance for me to review the former knowledge.
Cognitive Skills are any mental skills that are used in the process of acquiring knowledge; these skills include reasoning, perception, and intuition.
Cognitive Skills involve:
Meta-cognitive Skills are essential skills for learning. It makes the learner to be able to think about their own thought process, identify the learning strategies that work best for them and consciously manage how they learn.
Meta-cognitive Skills involve:
- Attention, Memory
- Concentration, Association
- Sequential Logic
I want to be a teacher after I graduate. I think Cognitive and Meta-cognitive Skills can be used in my daily life and teaching process. So my teaching result will be promoted. So my students can also benefit from these skills.
Dr Kamisah asked our group to present last week. The topic is THREE APPROACHES IN THE THINKING SUBJECT MATTER.
We have five people in our group. Before presenting, we have already discussed together many times. The three approaches includes Direct Teaching of Thinking, Infusion and Immersion.
At first, we can not distinguish Infusion from Immersion. So It’s difficult for us to give examples of the two approaches. After reading the material, we understand Infusion as “deep, thoughtful” instruction in subject-matter content in which the general principles of thinking are made explicit. And Immersion is thought-provoking subject-matter instruction in which the principles of complex thinking are not made explicit.
We watched other groups’ presentation. I think next time we should add more pictures and diagrams in our presentation. In this way the complex concept will be more visual, and our presentation will be more interesting.
I think Critical Thinking Skill plays an very important role in teaching process.
As a teacher, if you just teacher students in traditional ways, the efficiency would be low.Oppositely, if you tarin the students to be criticak thinkers, they will learn how to manage their study plans, they do not just depend on teachers. If you give them a problem , they will know how to analyse, evaluate and slove it.
So whether you are a teacher or a learner, it’s significant for you to master critical thinking skills. You will benifit from it.
January 27, 2008
Findings emerging from the thinking skills research reviewed in preparation for this report include:
- Providing students instruction in thinking skills is important for several reasons:
- These skills are necessary for people to have in our rapidly changing, technologically oriented world.
- Students, in general, do not have well-developed thinking skills.
- Although many people once believed that we are born either with or without creative and critical thinking abilities, research has shown that these skills are teachable and learn-able.
- Instruction in thinking skills promotes intellectual growth and fosters academic achievement gains.
- Research supports providing instruction in a variety of specific creative and critical thinking skills, study techniques, and metacognitive skills.
- Instructional approaches found to promote thinking skill development include redirection, probing, and reinforcement; asking higher-order questions during classroom discussions, and lengthening wait-time during classroom questioning.
- Computer-assisted instruction is positively related to intellectual growth and achievement gains.
- Many commercially available thinking skills instructional programs have been shown to bring about improvements in students’ performance on intelligence and achievement tests.
- Training teachers to teach thinking skills is associated with student achievement gains.
- In addition to program content, classroom practices, and teacher training, the success of thinking skills instruction is also dependent upon other factors, such as administrative support and appropriate match between the students and the instructional approach selected.
- Neither infused thinking skills instruction nor separate curricula is inherently superior to the other; both can lead to improved student performance, and elements of both are often used together, with beneficial results.
- Student performance has been shown to improve as a result of both direct teaching and inferential learning of thinking skills. Again, some programs have successfully combined these approaches.
- Because thinking skills instruction requires large amounts of time in order to be effective, administrative support and schoolwide commitment are necessary for program success.
- It is especially important to establish and maintain a positive, stimulating, encouraging classroom climate for thinking skills instruction, so that students will feel free to experiment with new ideas and approaches.
In both school settings and in the world outside of school, it is crucial for people to have “skills in questioning, analyzing, comparing, contrasting, and evaluating so that [they] will not become addicted to being told what to think and do” (Freseman 1990, p. 26). Putting into practice the findings from the thinking skills research can help schools to teach these skills and students to gain and use them.
THE CONTROVERSIES IN THINKING SKILLS INSTRUCTION
Is it better to teach thinking skills to students via infused programs or separate curricula? Is it better to teach these skills directly or to create situations whereby students learn them inferentially through being placed in circumstances which call for them to apply these skills? How much classroom time is required in order for thinking skills instruction to be effective, i.e., for students to master higher-order skills and be able to transfer them to other learning contexts? Is successful thinking skills instruction partly a matter of establishing a certain classroom climate, one that is open and conducive to “thinking for oneself”?
Differences of opinion—sometimes profound ones—have been expressed by theorists, developers, and classroom teachers in response to these questions. What does the research say?
INFUSED VERSUS SEPARATE PROGRAMS. Of the demonstrably effective programs itemized above, about half are of the infused variety, and the other half are taught separately from the regular curriculum. In addition, while several documents in the thinking skills literature (e.g., Bransford, et al. 1984; Baum 1990; and Gough 1991) offer support for infusion of thinking skills activities into subjects in the regular curriculum, others (Freseman 1990; Matthews 1989; Pogrow 1988; and Baum 1990) provide support for separate thinking skills instruction. The strong support that exists for both approaches (in the research, not to mention in the views of warring experts) indicates that either approach can be effective. Freseman represents what is perhaps a means of reconciling these differences when he writes, at the conclusion of his 1990 study:
…thinking skills need to be taught directly before they are applied to the content areas….[I] considered the concept of teaching thinking skills directly to be of value especially when there followed immediate application to the content area…(p. 48).
In a similar vein, Bransford (1986) says:
“Blind” instruction [in which students are not helped to focus on general processes or strategies nor to understand how new concepts and strategies can function as tools for problem solving] does not usually lead to transfer to new tasks….as the instruction focuses on helping students become problem solvers who learn to recognize and monitor their approaches to particular tasks, transfer is more likely to occur (p. 69-70).
DIRECT VERSUS INFERENTIAL LEARNING. Approaches such as inquiry development and the techniques used in the HOTS program involve guiding students through the process of figuring out what strategies to apply and where those strategies can lead them. Some researchers and developers (e.g., Hansler 1985; Orr and Klein 1991; Pogrow 1988) offer evidence that this approach enables students to learn thinking skills, rather than merely learning ABOUT them. HOTS Program developer Stanley Pogrow calls the process “controlled floundering”— “floundering” because students must feel their way (along a line of reasoning, for example), but “controlled” because teachers stay with them and assist them to work through the steps of their tasks.
Others favor direct instruction in the steps of whatever thinking process the teacher wants the students to learn. Teachers using this approach typically demonstrate the process using events and ideas which are familiar to the students and then applying the same generic process to unfamiliar material, usually new content from the school curriculum. Proponents claim that many students, particularly those whose out-of-school lives have offered little exposure to higher-order thinking, cannot be expected to develop these skills inferentially and must be taught them directly. The efficacy of direct instruction in a variety of thinking skills is demonstrated in the work of Freseman (1990); Herrnstein, et al. (1986); Pearson (1982); and Wong (1985), among others.
Again, it would appear that either approach can be effective, and a blend of the two may well be most effective. Pearson, for example, favors both direct instruction and guided practice:
…I think the justification exists for placing more emphasis on direct explicit teaching, interactive discussions, substantive feedback, and control and self-monitoring strategies (p. 26).
TIME REQUIREMENTS FOR THINKING SKILLS INSTRUCTION. This topic is not so much the subject of controversy as of uncertainty; even the experts seem uncertain as to how much time should be devoted to thinking skills activities in order for students to learn those skills well. Of course, time requirements will be different for different students, and experience shows that some students become adept thinkers with no explicit instruction at all.
The research can only address the time question obliquely, since most researchers don’t design studies in which different groups of students are exposed to different amounts of instruction. What the research does show is that those commercial or locally developed programs which have made substantial differences in students’ academic performance are quite time intensive.
Instrumental Enrichment requires three to five hours of instruction per week over approximately two years. Philosophy for Children, a K-12 curriculum, calls for three 40-minute periods weekly. Odyssey is made up of 100 45-minute lessons. Programs such as HOTS, which are designed especially for at-risk students who have limited experience in understanding and applying higher-order strategies, require even more time. Pogrow (1987) says:
It takes an extensive amount of time to produce results—at least 35 minutes a day, four days a week, for several months, for true thinking skills development to occur (p. 12).
Given these kinds of time demands, conducting meaningful thinking skills instruction clearly requires a high level of staff commitment and administrative support.
CLASSROOM CLIMATE. Research shows that positive classroom climates characterized by high expectations, teacher warmth and encouragement, pleasant physical surroundings, and so on, enhance all kinds of learning. In the thinking skills literature, there is an especially strong emphasis on the importance of climate. Orr and Klein (1991) go so far as to say that:
Teachers and administrators should systematically evaluate the general culture of their classrooms and schools and should estimate how this culture affects their ability to promote critical reasoning habits among students (p. 131).
The point made by these writers and many others is that moving beyond one’s mental habits and experimenting with new ways of looking at things—the very stuff of thinking skills instruction—involve risk. In order for students to be willing to participate in such activities, they:
…need to feel free to explore and express opinions, to examine alternative positions on controversial topics, and to justify beliefs about what is true and good, while participating in an orderly classroom discourse (Jerry Thacker, as quoted in Gough 1991, p. 5).
Here again, research can provide illumination only indirectly; however, it is the case that the validated programs in the research base include both teacher training components and classroom activities which emphasize establishing open, stimulating, supportive climates.
How might this be accomplished? Thacker lists twelve recommended teacher behaviors, all of which will be familiar to good teachers, for fostering a climate conducive to the development of thinking skills:
- Setting ground rules well in advance
- Providing well-planned activities
- Showing respect for each student
- Providing nonthreatening activities
- Being flexible
- Accepting individual differences
- Exhibiting a positive attitude
- Modeling thinking skills
- Acknowledging every response
- Allowing students to be active participants
- Creating experiences that will ensure success at least part of the time for each student
- Using a wide variety of teaching modalities (p. 5).
EFFECTS ON STUDENT OUTCOMES
THINKING SKILLS INSTRUCTION ENHANCES ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT. A broad, general finding from the research base is that nearly all of the thinking skills programs and practices investigated were found to make a positive difference in the achievement levels of participating students. Studies which looked at achievement over time found that thinking skills instruction accelerated the learning gains of participants, and those with true or quasi-experimental designs generally found that experimental students outperformed controls to a significant degree. Reports with such findings include: Barba and Merchant 1990; Bass and Perkins 1984; Bransford, et al. 1986; Crump, Schlichter, and Palk 1988; Freseman 1990; Haller, Child, and Walberg 1988; Hansler 1985, Horton and Ryba 1986; Hudgins and Edelman 1986; Kagan 1988; Marshall 1987; Matthews 1989; MCREL 1985; Nickerson 1984; Pearson 1982; Pogrow 1988; Ristow 1988; Riding and Powell 1985, 1987; Robinson 1987; Sadowski 1984-85; Snapp and Glover 1990; Sternberg and Bhana 1986; Tenenbaum 1986; Whimbey 1985; Wong 1985; and Worsham and Austin 1983.
RESEARCH SUPPORTS INSTRUCTION IN MANY SPECIFIC SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES. Gains on learning and intelligence measures were noted in response to providing instruction in a variety of specific techniques, including:
- STUDY SKILLS, such as paraphrasing, outlining, developing cognitive maps and using advance organizers (Barba and Merchant 1990; Snapp and Glover 1990; Tierney, et al. 1989).
- CREATIVE AND CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS, such as decision making, problem solving, fluency, observation, exploration, classification, generating hypotheses (Crump, Schlichter, and Palk 1988; Herrnstein, et al. 1986; Horton and Ryba 1986; Kagan 1988; Matthews 1989; MCREL 1985; Ristow 1988; Robinson 1987; Tenenbaum 1986).
- METACOGNITION, including awareness, self-monitoring, and self-regulating (Bransford, et al. 1986; Freseman 1990; Haller, Child, and Walberg 1988; Pearson 1982; Pogrow 1988; Robinson 1987; Wong 1985).
- INQUIRY TRAINING, in which students are given a “discrepant event” and practice information-gathering skills to resolve the discrepancy (Baum 1990; Hansler 1985; Pogrow 1988).
VARIOUS INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES ENHANCE THINKING SKILLS. In addition to instruction in specific mental operations, research also supports the use of several teaching practices as effective in fostering the development of thinking skills, including:
- REDIRECTION/PROBING/REINFORCEMENT. Known to increase students’ content knowledge, these techniques also enhance the development of critical and creative thinking skills (Cotton 1988; Pearson 1982; Robinson 1987; Tenenbaum 1986).
- ASKING HIGHER-ORDER QUESTIONS (Baum 1990; Cotton 1988; Herrnstein, et al. 1986; Matthews 1989; Robinson 1987; Sternberg and Bhana 1986).
- LENGTHENING WAIT-TIME, i.e., the amount of time the teacher is willing to wait for a student to respond after posing a question (Cotton 1988; Hudgins and Edelman 1986; Pogrow 1988).
These practices are also associated with increases in student engaged time/level of participation (Cotton 1988; MCREL 1985; Freseman 1990).
COMPUTER-ASSISTED INSTRUCTION HELPS TO DEVELOP THINKING SKILLS. Although the approach taken differed across the various kinds of instructional software studied, all of the CAI programs designed to improve students’ thinking skills were effective. The programs focused on skill building in areas such as verbal analogies, logical reasoning, and inductive/deductive thinking. Supportive research includes Bass and Perkins (1984); Horton and Ryba (1986); Riding and Powell (1985, 1987); and Sadowski (1984-85). The computer-oriented HOTS Program originally developed for Chapter 1 elementary students also shows positive results; however, developer Stanley Pogrow (1988) notes that the heart of the program is the teacher-student interaction called for by HOTS activities.
RESEARCH SUPPORTS THE USE OF SEVERAL SPECIFIC THINKING SKILLS PROGRAMS. The research consulted in preparation for this report is not all-inclusive, and no doubt there are studies and evaluations supporting the effectiveness of programs other than those identified here. The following programs are cited here because they are widely known and used, are representative of the kinds of thinking skills programs in current use in schools, and have been studied by researchers. Programs found to be effective include:
- COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL MATHEMATICS PROGRAM (CSMP). This is an elementary-level math curriculum that focuses on classification, elementary logic, and number theory. Children use computers, calculators and geometry models to pose problems, explore concepts, develop skills, and define new ideas (Baum 1990).
- CORT (COGNITIVE RESEARCH TRUST). Intended for use by students of any age/grade level, the program develops critical, creative, and constructive thinking skills over a three-year period (Baum 1990).
- HOTS (HIGHER-ORDER THINKING SKILLS). HOTS is a computer laboratory program for Chapter 1 and other elementary students. It uses readily available computer software in concert with specific teaching practices to enhance skills in metacognition, inferencing, and decontextualization, i.e., taking something learned in one setting and applying it to another (Pogrow 1988; Baum 1990).
- INSTITUTE FOR CREATIVE EDUCATION (ICE). ICE is a creative problem-solving process for students in grades K-12. It develops students’ ability to apply the creative thinking qualities of fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration to problem-solving activities (Baum 1990).
- INSTRUMENTAL ENRICHMENT (IE). Upper elementary and secondary students engage in clusters of problemsolving tasks and exercises that are designed to make students “active learners” and enhance their general learning ability (Baum 1990; Sternberg and Bhana 1986).
- KIDS INTEREST DISCOVERY STUDY (KIDS) KITS. Elementary schools conduct surveys of students’ interests and, based on results, students engage in active, self-directed learning and higher-level thinking around selected topics (Baum 1990).
- ODYSSEY. For use by upper elementary or secondary students, this program focuses on six aspects of cognitive functioning—the foundations of reasoning, understanding language, verbal reasoning, problem solving, decision making, and investive thinking (Sternberg and Bhana 1986).
- PHILOSOPHY FOR CHILDREN. Designed to develop thinking and reasoning skills through classroom discussion of philosophical topics, the program is organized around six novels in which children apply philosophical thinking to their daily lives. The curriculum spans the entire K-12 range (Baum 1990; Sternberg and Bhana 1986).
- PROBLEM SOLVING AND COMPREHENSION. This program concentrates on four problem-solving components— decoding skills, vocabulary, basic arithmetic operations, and precise thinking. Students work in problem solver-listener pairs. The program is frequently used in conjunction with other thinking skills programs (Sternberg and Bhana 1986).
- SAGE. Sage is designed for gifted elementary students and extends the regular curriculum through incorporating thinking skills development activities, mini-study units, and independent study (Baum 1990).
- SOI. Based on Guilford’s structure-of-intellect theory, the program is organized around the development of 120 intellectual skills from foundation level to higher order and emphasizes reasoning as the key component of successful learning (Baum 1990; Sternberg and Bhana 1986).
- TALENTS UNLIMITED (TU). TU is designed for elementary students and helps participants develop multiple thinking skills (called “talents” in the program). Teachers receive training to instruct their students in productive thinking, decision making, planning, forecasting, communication, and knowledge base development (Crump, Schlichter, and Palk 1988; Baum 1990).
- THINK. Secondary students engage in problem-solving activities in which they are encouraged to discuss the rationales leading to their conclusions, consider other points of view, and analyze various reasoning processes (Worsham and Austin 1983).
TRAINING TEACHERS TO TEACH THINKING SKILLS LEADS TO STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT GAINS. Developers and researchers of most of the effective programs cited above claim that teacher training is a key factor in the programs’ success. The majority of these programs have a strong teacher training component, and developers consider this training to be as important as the program content in bringing about the learning gains noted. In addition to the key role of staff development in the programs cited by reviewers Sternberg and Bhana (1986) and Baum (1990), a positive relationship between teacher training and student achievement was also identified in studies conducted by Crump, Schlichter, and Palk (1988); Hudgins and Edelman (1986); MCREL (1985); and Robinson (1987).
PROGRAMS, STRATEGIES, AND TRAINING ARE IMPORTANT, BUT… In drawing conclusions about the effectiveness of particular thinking skills instructional strategies, whole programs, or staff development approaches, several researchers also offer a caveat to those who might make curriculum decisions based on this information. Essentially, they say, yes, these programs, practices and training activities CAN BE effective, but their effectiveness is partially dependent on factors other than the methodologies themselves. In a typical expression of reservation, Sternberg and Bhana, at the conclusion of their 1986 review of several thinking skills programs, write:
…the success of a given program depends on a large number of implementation-specific factors, such as quality of teaching, administrative support, appropriateness of the program for the student population, and the extent to which the program is implemented in the intended manner” (p. 67).
Sternberg and Bhana’s observation about the match between program and student population also serves to remind us of another truism: just as there is no one certifiably “best” approach to teaching many other things, there is no one best way to teaching thinking skills. At the end of a study comparing different approaches to teaching critical thinking, Bass and Perkins write, “Like so much educational research, our final results were not supportive of just one instructional technique” (p. 96).