Critical Thinking : Its Role in Managing the Further Education Curriculum

by Stephen John

This study is an on going personal search to develop my practice as a teacher. It is grounded in the belief that no matter how long a teacher has been qualified, there is always room for developing praxis. The study is therefore a live, ongoing study. This first part records the search for information on critical and creative thinking and some tentative use of techniques in my own practice.

This work is copyright. Any comments will be welcome at sljohn@cwgsy.net

 

1. Introduction

This study has its origins in a critical incident. About ten years ago I was working on a computer in the Guernsey College of Further Education. I became aware of a student coming to print out a document o the next computer. The document was pretty. It had a colourful front page being printed on a laser printer. As a presentation the document seemed superb. I asked the student what the subject was. He said it was something that I might be interested in - motivation. I now become actively interested. I asked, "What do you think motivation is?" The reply was that it was something to do with work. I asked a few more questions and it soon became clear the student did not have any understanding of what motivation was or did. The student was open about the lack of knowledge of the subject matter and volunteered the fact that the work was copied from a book - "But it was a good book".

Some weeks later I saw the student again. I asked what grade was awarded for the motivation assignment. The answer was "a distinction".

This caused me to reflect on my own practice. Did I allow students to lose learning opportunities through similar behaviour? Why on courses that were intended to develop thinking did we permit superficial learning? How could I encourage students to learn how to think for themselves rather than just copy from a book? I became interested in examining why students behaved in such manner and why their teachers allowed such non learning. I became interested in developing a closer working relationship with the student during the preparing of challenging assignments. I was faced with a large number of questions about learning but with little real knowledge to deal with the predicaments that faced me. This led to reading of critical thinking and applying some of the techniques to my managing of the curriculum. How could I use the techniques of critical thinking to improve the process of the curriculum I gave to my students? This process led to some reflection on action (Schon 1983) from which a cycle of personal learning (Kolb 1984) could develop.

The process of identifying personal learning needs continued. In order to reflect I needed to update my knowledge on curriculum practice as well as an understanding of learning styles and shallow and deep learning approaches. The application of this knowledge led to further examination of my own practice as well as discussing learning with colleagues and students. I was engaging in cycles of action research

Writing the dissertation provided the discipline for me to reflect, to explore the literature, to carry out some action research and generally further develop my own practice. I sought to develop the management of my educational practice to discover :

...improvement in three areas : firstly the improvement on practice; secondly, the improvement of the understanding of the practice by its practitioners, and thirdly, the improvement of the situation in which the practice took place. (Carr and Kemmis 1986 p 165)

1.1 The Island of Guernsey and its educational traditions

Guernsey is an island some 20 miles off the coast of France. It is British from a constitutional point of view in that it has a unique relationship with the British crown. The education system is distinctly British, with two public schools, one grammar school and four secondary schools providing the basic education after students take the eleven plus examination.

Further and higher education is provided by the Guernsey College of Further Education which was set up in the mid 1960s to train apprentices. The role of the Guernsey College changed from a being primarily a provider of craft training to being a provider of a wide range of further and higher educational facilities to the offshore financial centre that evolved in the Channel Islands in the 1980s.

The island has a population of around 60,000. Education is an important feature of Guernsey. It is part of the culture of the island. It is rooted in the history of the two public schools, one of which goes back to the sixteenth century and still provides what would be termed a classical education.

A large number of Guernsey people have obtained higher education qualifications through private study. Many whose family roots were in agriculture and horticulture, both substantially smaller than they were prior to 1980; have sought academic or professional qualifications that would break their dependence on the fast receding basic industries.

Whilst education has a high value in Guernsey, it is accompanied by a tradition of the independence of 'doing it yourself' and accords to the strong feelings of independence which are characteristic of islanders. Sometimes this independence is seen in managers of organisations who have worked on their own to attain professional qualifications being reluctant to allow staff time to attend courses during work time. Another aspect of the Guernsey culture is that the traditional Guernsey industry, as well as the modern financial industry; are grounded in service to the client.

The provision of business and management courses has seen substantial growth during the mid 1980s, although by the early 1990s this growth had slowed substantially.


 

2. Literature Review

This literature review covers the topic critical thinking and aspects of that lead to the managing of critical thinking such as curriculum theory , motivation, and reflection on practice.

2.1 Critical thinking

There is a substantial literature base on critical thinking. There are also many differing definitions of what we mean by the term critical thinking.

2.1.1 Defining Critical Thinking

Definitions of critical thinking vary in breadth or inclusiveness. Usually definitions equate critical thinking with the cognitive processes and strategies involved in decision making, problem solving, or inquiry. According to Ennis, "Critical thinking is reflective and reasonable thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do." (Ennis 1985, 1987 in Patrick 1986 p 3)

The originality in the nature of critical thinking is seen in :

Critical thinking, ... implies curiosity, scepticism, reflection, and rationality. Critical thinkers have a propensity to raise and explore questions about beliefs, claims, evidence, definitions, conclusions, and actions. (Patrick 1986 p 3)

Whilst Elder and Paul stress the need for the student to take charge of their own thinking :

"Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality." (Elder and Paul 1994 pp 34 - 35)

Beyth-Marom, et al. (1987) characterises thinking skills as means to making good choices, whilst Beyer sess critical thining as a process that determines the accuracy and value of information.(Beyer 1985 p. 276). For Beyer critical thinking has two important dimensions. "It is both a frame of mind and a number of specific mental operations" (Beyer 1985 p. 271). Ristow makes the observation that such capabilities have often been regarded as:

a fluke of nature, a genetic predisposition, qualities are either possessed or not possessed by their owner and that education can do very little to develop these qualities (Ristow 1988 p. 44).

Kuhn (1991, 1993) regards critical thinking as having the "abilities : a) to differentiate opinions (or, as she calls them, 'theories') from evidence, b) to support opinions with non spurious evidence c) to propose opinions alternative to one's own and to know what evidence would support these and d) to provide evidence that simultaneously supports one's own opinions while rebutting the alternatives and e) to take an epistemological stance which involves weighing the pros and cons of what is known" (in Anderson et al 1997 p 1)

For Diane Halpern the term critical thinking is the use of those cognitive skills or strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome. It is purposeful, reasoned and goal-directed. It is the kind of thinking involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and  making decisions.

Halpern provides us with a summative working definition that embraces all of the ideas in this paper.

More recently writers on critical thinking have gone out of their way to stress that the term critical is not to be seen in the negative sense of always being negative.  Critical in critical thinking means involving making judgment or evaluating that contributes to the developing quality of the thinking process. This one reason why metacognition (thinking about thinking) has had a revival in popularity and as we will see later plays an important part in the “doing” of critical thinking..

2.1.2 Why teach or learn critical thinking when we already think?

The simple answer is that we don’t do thinking well.  All too often we see thinking that merely satisfices, when we adopt the first solution that meets our needs rather than search for better solutions. We also allow our “belief preservation” to dominate our thinking. This is where we seek evidence which supports what we already believe. We find ourselves regarding evidence as good or bad according to whether it accords with our beliefs. “Belief preservation is so strong that it makes us stick to our beliefs even when we are faces with overwhelming contrary evidence. All this occurs because human beings tend to from a mental framework of, say , an article early on.  Our early framework leads us to thinking we know what the article is all about, causing us to miss information that does not fit with this thought framework.

Diane Halpern in a paper  “Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking : Lessons From Cognitive Psychology” given to a US Army workshop on Critical Thinking in 2000  stresses that the fast changing and ever more complex world makes critical thinking an essential part of everyone’s learning.

2.1.3 Approaches to Critical thinking

The process of critical thinking is sometimes broken down into component parts by educational researchers such as Costa (1985) into (1) content knowledge (knowledge of the discipline), (2) procedural knowledge (knowledge of thinking skills), (3) ability to monitor, use and control thinking skills (metacognition), and (4) an attitude to use thinking skills and knowledge. (Howe and Warren 1989 p 1)

The role of metacognition and cognitive skills in the development of critical thinking is stressed by Blakey and Spence as being :

...thinking about thinking, knowing "what we know" and "what we don't know". Just as an executive's job is management of an organization, a thinker's job is management of thinking. The basic metacognitive strategies are :

            1. Connecting new information to former knowledge

2 Selecting thinking strategies deliberately

3 Planning, monitoring and evaluating thinking processes (Blakey and Spence 1990 p 1 after Dirkes 1985)

Amongst the broad principles and learning methods that can be adopted by the teacher to develop metacognitive skills are those stated in Kerka These include :

1 Helping students organise their knowledge

2 Building on what students already know

3 Facilitating Information Processing, including problem solving, strategy selection, and response to mistakes

4 Facilitating deep thinking through elaboration, through use of paired problem solving, observing and modifying of own processes

5 Making thinking processes explicit. (Kerka 1992 p 2).

This approach of Kerka is similar to the five logically distinct steps in the process of thinking as stated by Dewey (1909 p 72) being :

1) a felt difficulty

2) its location and definition

3) suggestion of possible solution

4) development by reasoning of the bearings of the suggestion and

5) further observation or experiment leading to its acceptance or rejection; that is the conclusion of belief or disbelief.

I would add to the list the need to help relational thinking of the type required in the Biggs and Collis SOLO taxonomy as well as the higher order levels of thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Bonnett reminds us that Dewey states that central to thinking is that "the mind should be sensitive to problems and skilled in methods of attack and solution" (Dewey 1909 p 72 in Bonnett 1995 p 297) Bonnet speculates whether Dewey was attempting to present a way of generating ideas or a process of justification? In other words was Dewey presenting a description of thinking, or a model for thinking, or was he just describing tendencies?.

Whatever Dewey intended, his objective was to "develop an increased awareness of the process of their own thinking in comparison with that of accomplished thinkers" (Bonnett 1995 p 298)

Kerka makes clear that developing higher-level cognitive capacities goes beyond giving a lesson or two on thinking skills. Applying cognitive development principles in vocational curriculum and instruction builds on the strengths of vocational education to develop higher order skills needed in the spheres of work, family, community, and society. (Kerka 1992 p 4).

Thinking in words and vision has occupied the attention of many writers including Koestler who is quoted as saying that verbal language can become a screen, which stands between the thinker and reality. Tolman (1930) suggested that rats put into a maze probably constructed a form of mental map or picture of the maze in order to navigate through the complex maze. Saarinen (1987) makes the interesting observation that students who were asked to draw a map of the world almost always enlarged the area they came from or which was well known to them. (Whetton 1996 p 322) The mental picture approach and its part in developing thinking will be examined in more detail later.

Facione sees interpretation, analysis and evaluation as skills that are essential in critical thinking (Facione et al 1995 p 1) Interpretation is "to comprehend and express the meaning or significance of a wide variety of experiences, situations, data, events, judgements, conventions, beliefs, rules, procedures, or criteria."

Analysis is "to identify the intended and actual inferential relationships among statements, questions, concepts, descriptions, or other forms of representation intended to express belief, judgment, experiences, reasons, information, or opinions."

Evaluation means "to assess the credibility of statements or other representations which are accounts or descriptions of a person's perception, experience, situation, judgment, belief, or opinion; and to assess the logical strength of the actual or intended inferential relationships among statements, descriptions, questions or other forms of representation." (Facione et al 1995 pp 4 - 6)

Beyond being able to interpret, analyse, evaluate and infer, good critical thinkers can do two more things. They can explain what they think and how they arrived at that judgment. And, they can apply their powers of critical thinking to themselves and improve on their previous opinions. These two skills are called "explanation" and "self-regulation." (Facione et al 1995 pp 4 - 6)

Tama (1989 pp 2 - 3) explains the need for students to be adequately prepared for changes in teacher expectations as a result of the introduction of a critical thinking programme. Even a simple method such as pausing between question and answer needs careful implementation. A practical example of managing the learning of critical thinking is provided when Tama refers to the work of Tobin (1987) who suggests that a teaching strategy of asking a question and then waiting for a response and warns that "wait time in and in itself does not insure critical thinking." (Tama 1989 p 2).

Another strategy for teaching critical thinking includes :

* Promoting interaction among students as they learn - Learning in a group setting often helps each member achieve more.

* Asking open-ended questions that do not assume the "one right answer" - Critical thinking is often exemplified best when the problems are inherently ill-defined and do not have a "right" answer. Open-ended questions also encourage students to think and respond creatively, without fear of giving the "wrong" answer.

* Allowing sufficient time for students to reflect on the questions asked or problems posed - Critical thinking seldom involves snap judgements; therefore, posing questions and allowing adequate time before soliciting responses helps students understand that they are expected to deliberate and to ponder, and that the immediate response is not always the best response.

* Teaching for transfer - The skills for critical thinking should "travelwell." They generally will do so only if teachers provide opportunities for students to see how a newly acquired skill can apply to other situations and to the student's own experience. (Potts 1994 p1 -2)

In teaching critical thinking we are frequently urged to remember that learning is not automatically transferred to new settings, that context is critical to understanding and that higher order learning is not a change in behaviour but the construction of meaning from experience. (Johnson and Thomas 1992 in Kerka 1992 p 2).

Noreen Facione has described the use of critical thinking in nursing studies courses in California and speaks of the consensus definition of critical thinking as it applies to nursing courses :

Any construct definition of CT that hopes to frame a consensus will now have to encompass problem solving where the problems are complex, novel, time-pressured, high stakes, and widely diverse in context. No wonder that many military science educators have come to share nursing's description of CT as a desired student and professional practice   outcome. (Facione N 1996 p 4)

The diversity of definitions of critical thnking is stated by Beyer makes the point that "Although there are some quite diverse definitions of critical thinking, nearly all emphasize the ability and tendency to gather, evaluate, and use information effectively" (Beyer, 1985 in Potts 1994 p 1).

Patrick provides an effective, broad approach summing up to the approach to teaching critical thinking in stating that :

There is a strong relationship between an open, supportive, and structured classroom climate, where opinions on issues may be explored and expressed in a free and disciplined manner, and development of critical thinking and attitudes supportive of it. Effective teachers challenge students to examine alternative positions on controversial topics or public issues, require justification for beliefs about what is true or good, and insist on orderly classroom discourse. In this manner, they provide powerful lessons on responsible scholarship and citizenship in a free society. (Patrick 1986 p 4)

In the Further Education context Anderson et al (1997) suggest a programme for teaching critical thinking which involves :

1 Explicit descriptions (models) of what is involved in thinking effectively, that should encourage students to dialogue.

2 Through systematic practice in applying targeted skills to complex tasks. With this approach feedback to students is through critiquing.

3 Embedding instruction in critical thinking in teaching programme.

2.1.4 Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

Many of the definitions of critical thinking state, directly or imply; that problem solving is an important part of critical thinking. It will help if we were to subject problem solving to a more detailed examination. .

Whetton sets out the model of the rational approach to problem solving as :

1 Define problem

2 Generate alternative solutions

3 Evaluate and select an alternative

4 Implement and follow up on the solution.

The contribution of Whetton is furthered by the establishing of ground rules which are set out in Conditions for good problem solving :

- that factual information is differentiated from opinion or speculation

- that constraints within which the solution needs to be considered are recorded but put aside for possible 'brainstorming activity.

- that everyone involved in the problem is consulted

- that comparison is made on a like for like basis

- that problem definition indicates whose problem it is (i.e. elderly people in homes)

- that the definition of the problem is not simply a disguised solution (i.e. problem is we need to fire Henry because he is slow).(Whetton 1996 pp 12 - 13)

Whetton suggests certain rules that should be considered in evaluations. These include postponing evaluation of alternatives until all alternatives have been identified, adopting a positive approach, learning from everyone who has something to say.

Stages in Critical Thinking

Whetton considers critical thinking to be essential to good problem solving. According to Whetton, critical thinking needs to be preceded by the :

1 Destruction of the set pattern in our thoughts

2 An uncomfortable stage of insecurity while we establish new patterns

3 Re establishment of new patterns. This is a version of the unfreezing refreezing approach more commonly associated with Kurt Lewin.

Whetton believes that in order to avoid or minimise discomfort we put up barriers which are termed conceptual blocks Whetton defined a conceptual block as "mental obstacles that constrain the way the problem is defined and limit the number of alternative solutions thought to be relevant" (Whetton 1996 p 23)

Whetton justifies this conclusion with the frightening comment that :

...the more formal education individuals have, the more experience they have in a job, the less able they are to solve problems in creative ways. It has been estimated that most adults over 40 display less that 2 per cent of the creative problem solving ability of a child under the age of  5. That's because formal education is about teaching how to group information.. ..Individuals lose the ability to experiment, improvise or make mental detours. (Whetton 1996 p 23)

It this claim is correct, then it has significant consequences for the involvement of the teacher in the managing and relearning of problem solving. It places the teacher as educational manager at the centre of the critical thinking process.

A story showing the limitation of creative thinking and the constraints in the problem solving process is that of Spence Silver at 3 M's. Silver found that the new adhesive substance he had made did not fit 3 M's conventional test for adhesives. The 3 M mission statement said that it was to make adhesives that adhered more tightly. What Silver had created was an adhesive in the 'now it works, now it doesn't work' mode. Silver had created a type of glue which preferred its own molecules to the molecules of other substances. It took years and the visual experience of Art Fry to develop the Post it Note that we take for granted less than 20 years later.

Theoretically we can see four types of conceptual blocks :

Consistency

Vertical thinking and one thinking language

Commitment

Stereotyping based on past experience - present problems are only variations on past problems

Compression

Artificial restraints from poor definition of problem. Failure to filter out irrelevant information or not finding needed information

Complacency

Not asking questions

Whilst the work of Whetton is important in its own right it also serves as strong warning of the barriers that exist to critical and creative thinking. These warnings need to be taken into account by those charged with the task of managing the development of critical thinking.

2.1.4.1 Creative and Critical thinking sources and material.

 

http://www.lgc.peachnet.edu/academic/educatn/Blooms/critical_thinking.htm

 

This site has a collection of basic ideas concerning critical thinking. Note on page 3 the view that critical thinking tools utilise the higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy and that critical thinking is enhanced  when combined with relevance. This personal meaning encourages deeper thinking.

 

http://www.dartmouth.edu/~compose/faculty/pedagogies/thinking.html

 

The sections on Bloom’s taxonomy and the elements of critical thinking are a sound foundation for critical thinking.

 

http://www.ericae.net/pare/getvn.asp?v=7&n=7

 

One of the excellent ERIC series. This document gives both informed material on critical thinking as well as valuable advise as to how we can get the most out of using critical thinking to develop Internet searches.

 

www.cia.gov/csi/books/19104

 

You may wonder what a CIA document has to do with creative and critical thinking. Well, it has a great deal to do with developing our thinking, analysis and evaluation skills.

 

The first chapter of The Psychology of Intelligence deals with “Thinking about thinking.

One key to successful learning is motivation

Herbert Simon first advanced the concept of "bounded" or limited rationality. Because of limits in human mental capacity, he argued, the mind cannot cope directly with the complexity of the world. Rather, we construct a simplified mental model of reality and then work with this model. We behave rationally within the confines of our mental model, but this model is not always well adapted to the requirements of the real world. The concept of bounded rationality has come to be recognized widely, though not universally, both as an accurate portrayal of human judgment and choice and as a sensible adjustment to the limitations inherent in how the human mind functions.

Much psychological research on perception, memory, attention span, and reasoning capacity documents the limitations in our "mental machinery" identified by Simon.

A central focus of this book is to illuminate the role of the observer in determining what is observed and how it is interpreted. People construct their own version of "reality" on the basis of information provided by the senses, but this sensory input is mediated by complex mental processes that determine which information is attended to, how it is organized, and the meaning attributed to it. What people perceive, how readily they perceive it, and how they process this information after receiving it are all strongly influenced by past experience, education, cultural values, role requirements, and organizational norms, as well as by the specifics of the information received.

The disadvantage of a mind-set is that it can colour and control our perception to the extent that an experienced specialist may be among the last to see what is really happening when events take a new and unexpected turn.

A generation ago, few intelligence analysts were self-conscious and introspective about the process by which they did analysis. The accepted wisdom was the "common sense" theory of knowledge--that to perceive events accurately it was necessary only to open one's eyes, look at the facts, and purge oneself of all preconceptions and prejudices in order to make an objective judgment.

Chapter 3 deals with memory. It is well worth reading as it gives us a good insight into how memory works and ways in which we can develop the competence of our memory.

What is commonly called memory is not a single, simple function. It is an extraordinarily complex system of diverse components and processes. There are at least three, and very likely more, distinct memory processes. The most important from the standpoint of this discussion and best documented by scientific research are sensory information storage (SIS), short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM)

Short-Term Memory

Information passes from SIS into short-term memory, where again it is held for only a short period of time--a few seconds or minutes. Whereas SIS holds the complete image, STM stores only the interpretation of the image. If a sentence is spoken, SIS retains the sounds, while STM holds the words formed by these sounds.

Like SIS, short-term memory holds information temporarily, pending further processing. This processing includes judgments concerning meaning, relevance, and significance, as well as the mental actions necessary to integrate selected portions of the information into long-term memory. When a person forgets immediately the name of someone to whom he or she has just been introduced, it is because the name was not transferred from short-term to long-term memory.

A central characteristic of STM is the severe limitation on its capacity. A person who is asked to listen to and repeat a series of 10 or 20 names or numbers normally retains only five or six items. Commonly it is the last five or six. If one focuses instead on the first items, STM becomes saturated by this effort, and the person cannot concentrate on and recall the last items. People make a choice where to focus their attention.

Retrieval of information from STM is direct and immediate because the information has never left the conscious mind.

Long-Term Memory

Some information retained in STM is processed into long-term memory. This information on past experiences is filed away in the recesses of the mind and must be retrieved before it can be used. In contrast to the immediate recall of current experience from STM, retrieval of information from LTM is indirect and sometimes laborious.

Loss of detail as sensory stimuli are interpreted and passed from SIS into STM and then into LTM is the basis for the phenomenon of selective perception discussed in the previous chapter. It imposes limits on subsequent stages of analysis, inasmuch as the lost data can never be retrieved. People can never take their mind back to what was actually there in sensory information storage or short-term memory. They can only retrieve their interpretation of what they thought was there as stored in LTM.

There are no practical limits to the amount of information that may be stored in LTM. The limitations of LTM are the difficulty of processing information into it and retrieving information from it. These subjects are discussed below.

Organization of Information in Long-Term Memory.

Physically, the brain consists of roughly 10 billion neurons, each analogous to a computer chip capable of storing information. Each neuron has octopus-like arms called axons and dendrites. Electrical impulses flow through these arms and are ferried by neurotransmitting chemicals across what is called the synaptic gap between neurons. Memories are stored as patterns of connections between neurons. When two neurons are activated, the connections or "synapses" between them are strengthened.

As you read this, the experience actually causes physical changes in your brain. "In a matter of seconds, new circuits are formed that can change forever the way you think about the world."

Memory records a lifetime of experience and thoughts. Such a massive data retrieval mechanism, like a library or computer system, must have an organizational structure; otherwise information that enters the system could never be retrieved. Imagine the Library of Congress if there were no indexing system.

Retrievability is influenced by the number of locations in which information is stored and the number and strength of pathways from this information to other concepts that might be activated by incoming information. The more frequently a path is followed, the stronger that path becomes and the more readily available the information located along that path. If one has not thought of a subject for some time, it may be difficult to recall details. After thinking our way back into the appropriate context and finding the general location in our memory, the interconnections become more readily available. We begin to remember names, places, and events that had seemed to be forgotten.

Once people have started thinking about a problem one way, the same mental circuits or pathways get activated and strengthened each time they think about it. This facilitates the retrieval of information.

One useful concept of memory organization is what some cognitive psychologists call a "schema." A schema is any pattern of relationships among data stored in memory. It is any set of nodes and links between them in the spider web of memory that hang together so strongly that they can be retrieved and used more or less as a single unit.

Any given point in memory may be connected to many different overlapping schemata. This system is highly complex and not well understood.

Getting Information Into and Out of Long-Term Memory.

The key factor in transferring information from short-term to long-term memory is the development of associations between the new information and schemata already available in memory. This, in turn, depends upon two variables: the extent to which the information to be learned relates to an already existing schema, and the level of processing given to the new information.

Take one minute to try to memorize the following items from a shopping list: bread, eggs, butter, salami, corn, lettuce, soap, jelly, chicken, and coffee. Chances are, you will try to burn the words into your mind by repeating them over and over. Such repetition, or maintenance rehearsal, is effective for maintaining the information in STM, but is an inefficient and often ineffective means of transferring it to LTM. The list is difficult to memorize because it does not correspond with any schema already in memory.

The words are familiar, but you do not have available in memory a schema that connects the words in this particular group to each other. If the list were changed to juice, cereal, milk, sugar, bacon, eggs, toast, butter, jelly, and coffee, the task would be much easier because the data would then correspond with an existing schema--items commonly eaten for breakfast. Depth of processing is the second important variable in determining how well information is retained. Depth of processing refers to the amount of effort and cognitive capacity employed to process information, and the number and strength of associations that are thereby forged between the data to be learned and knowledge already in memory.

There are three ways in which information may be learned or committed to memory: by rote, assimilation, or use of a mnemonic device. Each of these procedures is discussed below.

Practical Illustration   In November 2002 I was going over some previous weeks work with students and asking various questions. One student who had been in the previous class but the next day had gone on holiday for a few days, was able to answer questions relating to classes before the previous week but had lost the short term memory content of the previous week. It was a good opportunity for me to stress the need for regular study and the quick reinforcement of the short term memory information and its transference to long term memory.

This is just a sample of the superb material covered in Psychology of Intelligence

www.virtualsalt.com/crebook2.htm

This material on creative thinking techniques is excellent. The advise on brainstorming is well worth reading if only to provide a sound revision of such material.

The power of questions and the journalistic six, what, why, who, where, when and how all contain a range of questions that help develop creative thinking.,

How to deal with idea generating bocks contains sound practical advise, both for tutors crafting the skills of creative and critical thinking as well as students.

2.1.4.2 Block Busting Techniques

Uses For. This is a simple technique that can be used for mental stimulation or practical application, depending on what you have in mind at the time. It is an excellent tool for breaking you out of a functionally fixated mindset. To use this technique, think of an item or object, usually a common one like a brick, toothpick, pencil, or bucket, and set the task of thinking of all the possible uses for that object, without regard to what the object is normally used for, what it is named, or how it is usually thought of.

Sometimes a time limit, like three to five minutes, is given. Other times a quantity limit, like 25 to 100 is given. All the techniques of idea generation are used, from checklist to attribute analysis to random stimulation.

For example: What are the possible uses for a brick?

 Ideas: doorstop, boat anchor, build a wall, build a walk, ballast, sanding block, powder and make dye, put on white background and make a sign (red letters), nut cracker, shoes, straightedge, red chalk, stop signal (use something green like a cucumber for go), heat reservoir, leaf press, paper weight, step stool, target for shooting, children's toys, scale weight standard, distance standard, definition of red, water holder (soaked), tamper, pattern maker (in soft material), pendulum weight, bell clapper, roofing material (crushed)

Another example: What are the possible uses for a steak knife?

 Ideas: hot pad, planter stick or prop, hole digger, popsicle stick, bubble wand (through hole in handle), flipping tool or spring, hammer, gun sight, fishing weight/float, compass (magnetize the steel), plumb bob, drill, can opener, carving tool, electrical (knife) switch or other electrical conductor use, awl, measuring device (two knives long and three knives wide), shim, design maker in wet plaster (serrated edge), writing instrument (dip in ink), all cutting and chopping uses, guitar pick, branding or soldering device (get red hot first), ice climbing aid (hook or glue to boots with part of blade down into ground)

2.1.4.3 What-Iffing. A major block to creativity for many of us is the mind's fierce grasp on reality. This very factor that keeps us sane also keeps us from thinking beyond what we know to be true. What-iffing is a tool for releasing the mind, for delivering us from being blocked by reality.

In its simplest form, what-iffing involves describing an imagined action or solution and then examining the probable associated facts, consequences, or events. Instead of quickly saying, "That sounds dumb," or "That would never work," and leaving our criticism vague, we trace as exactly as our reasonable minds can generate the specific implications or consequences of the newly imagined fact.

For example, what if automobiles were all owned by the government and everybody had a key and could use any car that was handy? Consequences: Parking lot size could be reduced. There would probably be more car pooling with strangers. If cars were maintained by the government, too, some would be in better shape than now, but others would be in worse shape--no pride in personal ownership. On sunny days cars would be plentiful, but on rainy days, you might get stuck at the shopping centre. Cars that broke down would be abandoned. You couldn't lock things in your car. You'd never know if the car you drove to a location (like the movie theatre at night) would be there when you got out.

Another example might be to ask, "What if we do nothing about the problem?" Then seek as accurately as possible the consequences.

On another level, “what-iffing” allows us to create a completely new reality, to establish a new chain of being or relationships, to change the unchangeable in hope of generating a new perspective on a problem or a new idea.

For example: What if rocks were soft? We could put big ones in our houses like pillows to lean on in the living room. We could use them like "medicine balls" to toss to each other for exercise. We could line roads with piles of rocks to keep cars from damage when control was lost on dangerous corners. We could jump off high buildings onto rock piles. Crushed rock pits could be used to jump into by athletes. On the other hand, rock grinding wheels wouldn't work anymore. Concrete, made of rock, would be soft. A cinderblock cell would be a padded cell

2.1.4.4. Reversal. The reversal method for examining a problem or generating new ideas takes a situation as it is and turns it around, inside out, backwards, or upside down. A given situation can be "reversed" in several ways; there is no one formulaic way.

For example, the situation, "a teacher instructing students" could be reversed as

Example problem: a motorist came up behind a flock of sheep in the middle of the road and told the shepherd to move the sheep to the side so that he could drive through. The shepherd knew that on such a narrow roadside, he could not easily keep all his sheep off the road at once. Reversal: Instead of "drive around the sheep," drive the sheep around the car: have the car stop and drive the sheep around and in back of it.

Example: going on vacation: bring vacation home, stay on vacation most of year and then "go on work" for two weeks, make work into a vacation, send someone on vacation for you to bring back photos and souvenirs, etc.

Example: how can management improve the store?

2.1.4.5 Analogy and Metaphor. Whether you are teaching someone else something new or trying to learn something yourself or trying to solve a problem, one of the best ways for doing that is to compare the unfamiliar, unknown, or problematic with something familiar and understandable. This is the method of analogy, to find a familiar thing or process that seems somewhat like the idea or problem to be clarified.

In creative thinking, analogies are used for their suggestive qualities, to see what ideas they can break loose, and especially for helping to examine the problem better. By searching for several points of similarity between the analogy and the problem, new aspects of the problem are revealed and new approaches arise.

Example problem: Devise a better way to find your way driving through the fog

Analogy: This is like a nearsighted person finding his way around. How does he do that? feels with his hands, looks at the ground, uses glasses, waves a cane, asks directions.

 Ideas: feel around--a radar system or fog lights or other feelers, uses glasses--develop a vision enhancing device, such as night light amplification, looks at ground--develop system for car to follow a track on the ground.

Another analogy for the same problem: This is like a traveller in a strange country trying to find his way to a particular location. Use direction signs, radio stations with tourist broadcasts. The traveller goes slow, asks directions, uses guidebook and perhaps foreign language dictionary. What is similar in the problem?

Ideas: direction signs--put signs or lights along the side of fog shrouded roads, asks directions--an electronic query system in the car?

A metaphor is a comparison between two unlike things, in which one thing is identified with the other. In problem solving, the use of metaphor helps to break out of a stereotyped or obvious view. Again, similarities between these two essentially unlike things are looked for.

http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/docs/policy/cels/el4.html

Some excellent material on creative and critical thinking on this Canadian site.

Creative thinking is generally considered to be involved with the creation or generation of ideas, processes, experiences or objects; critical thinking is concerned with their evaluation.

The importance of having students develop good critical and creative thinking abilities has to do with the foundations needed for a democracy and with the tools needed for independent and life-long learning

2.1.4.6 Teachers as models

Discussion of the teacher's role in fostering critical and creative thinking must begin from a recognition of the teacher as a person whose unique character, interests and desires can not be separated out from the idea of the teacher's role. Good teachers are doing more when they teach than acting according to prescribed roles. Their desire to nurture a love for learning, to help students recognize and act upon their capabilities, and to establish a classroom climate which is based upon mutual regard and respect gives their teaching purpose and meaning beyond any technical description of the teacher's role. What is required is that teachers be authentic individuals who are striving to improve their practice through the use of critical and creative thought. Acting upon their belief in the importance of critical and creative reflection, teachers would attempt to:5

2.1.5 Developing a climate conducive to critical and creative reflection.

An integral part of teaching methodologies designed to foster critical and creative reflection is the type of classroom environment which the teacher helps to create. The type of climate which appears to be most desirable (Klenz, 1987; Marzano et al., 1988; and Paul, 1985) is one which fosters psychological safety and intellectual freedom within a structure where individuals respect one another as persons of unconditional worth

Teachers can foster critical and creative thinking within the various school subjects by  

Daine Halpern in “Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking : Lessons From Cognitive Psychology” given to a US Army workshop on Critical Thinking in 2000 says that a critical thinker can:

·   Recognize that a problem exists

·   Develop an orderly planful approach so that tasks are prioritized and problems are recognized as differing with regard to how serious and urgent they are

·   Use the metacognitive knowledge that allows novices to monitor their own performance and to decide when additional help is needed

·   Develop an openness to a variety of solutions even novel ones

·   Generate a reasoned method for selecting among several possible courses of actions

·   Give reasons for choices as well as varying the style and amount of detail in explanations depending on who is receiving the information

·   Recall relevant information when it is needed

·   Use skills for learning new techniques efficiently and relating new knowledge to information that was previously learned

·   Use numerical information, including the ability to think probabilistically and express thoughts numerically

·   Understand basic research principles

·   Demonstrate an advanced ability to read and write complex prose

·   Present a coherent and persuasive argument on a controversial, contemporary topic

·   Provide complex instructions in language that is appropriate for the audience

·   Use matrices and other diagrams for communication

·   Synthesize information from a variety of sources

·   Determine credibility and use this information in formulating and communicating decisions.

 

2.1.5.1 Types of Critical Questions

  1. Questions of clarification:

Examples

—Could you give me an example?
—Is your basic point ___or___ ?

  1. Questions that probe assumptions:

Examples

—You seem to be assuming ___
—How would you justify taking this for granted?
—Is this always the case?

  1. Questions that probe reasons and evidence:

Examples

—How could we go about finding out whether that is true?
—Is there reason to doubt that evidence?

  1. Questions about viewpoints or perspectives:

Examples

—How would other groups or types of people respond? Why? What would influence them?
—How would people who disagree with this viewpoint argue their case?

  1. Questions that probe implications and consequences:

Examples

—What effect would that have?
—If this and this are the case, then what else must also be true?

  1. Questions about the question:

Examples

—To answer this question, what questions would we have to answer first?
—Is this the same issue as

Diane Halpern suggests some questions that will help develop critical thinking

Draw a diagram or other graphic display that organizes the information

What additional information would you want before answering the question?

Explain why you selected a particular multiple choice alternative? Which is second best? Why?

State the problem in at least two ways

Which information is most important?  Which information is least important?  Why?

Categorize the findings in a meaningful way

List two solutions for the problem

What is wrong with an assertion that was made in the question'?

Present two reasons that support the conclusion and two reasons that do not support the conclusion

Identify the type of persuasive technique being used

What two actions would you take to improve the design of the study that was described?

 

Other ways the teacher can help encourage and develop the use of critical thinking skill include exercises to overcome “belief preservation” 

 

     Consider the following extract from a newspaper in New York and state what you believe happens next.

“They met in a bar. He offered her a lift home. He took her down unfamiliar streets. He said it was a shortcut.”

 

The answer is a that she got home so fast she caught the late evening news on television.

 

Why is the answer surprising? Because of our  belief preservation. We will have made our minds up of the danger and that would have excluded other alternatives. It reflects our mind set of the expected outcome of the ride home.

 

What this exercise does is to require us to be mindful of the ways in which we can overcome belief preservation.

 

The making of memory maps (discussed in more detail later) are also useful tools to help develop critical thinking understanding.

 

Questions such as did man really walk on the moon can be interesting and fascinating critical thinking exercises for students. The exercise is even more beneficial when the student explains how they were thinking as they progressed the exercise.

Summary

In summarizing the teacher's role in developing critical and creative thought processes, teachers need to:

understand the purposes underlying this goal;

believe in its potential benefits to students; and

become increasingly reflective about their own practice in order to build the values, skills, knowledge and processes of critical and creative thinking into the subjects which they teach.

www.virtualsalt.com/think/Semat1.htm

This part of the excellent and comprehensive Virtualsalt site hosts a course on semantics. It shows with copious examples how our use of words affect the meaning of the word or phrase. For instance if I refer to a flower as a weed it gives to the reader / listener a very different meaning than if I referred to it as a flower.

Semantics teaches the student to think and write with exact ideas. Apart from the interesting examples the site is worth looking at as it might inspire both tutor and student to more creative and real ideas.

After reading about semantics words we use all the time show how difficult it is to give one sentence definitions and meanings ;

            What is motivation?

What is love?

            What is truth?

 

The politician who changes allegiance and joins another political party is seen one day as an enemy but when he or she joins our party they become  our friend. Yet, they are the same person in both scenarios.

 

Wording is critical when we conduct a survey. As most surveys are on controversial topics the words we choose and their meanings will be of importance.

 

When Americans were asked if aid should be given in Nicaragua to help prevent communist influence spreading it received from 58 per cent of Americans. When the wording was changed to as if we should assist the people of Nicaragua to overthrow their government the level of support fell to 34 Per cent.

 

On the issue of abortion when asked to support the prohibiting of abortion 24 per cent gave support. When the wording was changed to should we protect the life of the unborn the level of support rose to 50 per cent.

 

As mentioned earlier our attitudes and perceptions change depending on the word or phrase we use to describe

 

            Flower                                    weed

            Half full glass                       half empty glass

            Incentive                                bribe

 

In 1711 on the completion of the building of St Paul’s Cathedral, King George 1 described it to Christopher Wren as “awful and artificial” 

 

It is only when we look at the meaning of words in the 18th century that we appreciate that awful in those days meant “full of awe” and artificial meant “full of art”. This is why the King James version of the Bible refers to an awful God.

 

The importance of words and their meaning is brought home when we appreciate that the 500 most used words in the English language have about 14,000 meanings.

 

In the second part of the Semantics course we are reminded that words have tow kinds of meanings

 

            Word                          Denotation                            Connotation

 

            New                            recent origin                          better, improved

            Adequate                   good enough                        not very good.

 

Denotation is the literal meaning

Connotation is the suggested meaning

 

If someone asks you if you like your job you may reply “adequate”. What would you understand by adequate?

 

Lets take the word bug.

 

“I hate bugs” is a negative connotation

As snug as a bug in a rug” is a positive connotation

“Grubs are bugs” is a neutral connotation

I received a letter from a Guernsey advocate that told me “You may seek independent advice” What he really meant was “You may wish to seek independent advice” Totally different meaning, even if I excuse the fact that I had not asked his advice.

 

The power of words is an important tool to the creative and critical thinker.

 

We need also to be aware of the use of euphemisms.

 

Die has a number of euphemisms such as pass ay, croak it, departed, passed on etc

 

The more uncomfortable we are with a word the more euphemisms there are for the word. Think of the word urinate.

 

This short review of critical and creative thinking material show the wealth of information that is available on the Internet.

 

2.1.6 Approaches of some leading critical thinking institutes

2.1.6.1 Sonoma State University

The Center for Critical Thinking at Sonoma State University in California approaches instructional design from two perspectives - structure - the "what" we going to teach, and tactics - the "how" dealing with matters of how we teach the course.

Richard Paul at Sonoma, sets out a strategy for developing critical thinking. When the course plan is prepared it will contain direction of the way we will teach critical skills. Paul suggests that we divide tactics into complex and simple tactics:

Socratic instruction, teaching students how to read critically, devising an oral test format, developing tactics for student self-assessment :These are all complex tactics. As the complex ones have multiple parts and often require an extended period of time to be carried out, they are generally harder to master. On the other hand, most simple tactics, like calling on students who don't have their hands up, asking that students summarize what other students have said, requiring students to state the purpose of an assignment or to express the question on the floor - are rather easy to learn and can take up much less time. (Paul 1996a p 2)

For Paul and the Sonoma school, critical thinking comes through questions. Socratic questions play a major part in the Sonoma approach to critical thinking.

"One of the reasons that instructors tend to overemphasise "coverage" over "engaged thinking" is that they assume that answers can be taught separate from questions" (Paul 1996b p 1)

Paul claims that questions, not answers drive critical thinking. There would not be physics or biology if people had not asked questions as to what was going on about them.

Deep questions drive our thought underneath the surface of things, force us to deal with complexity" Questions of purpose force us to define our task, Questions of information force us to look at our sources ...as well as quality of information, Questions of interpretation force us to examine how we are organizing or giving meaning to information. Questions of assumption force us to examine what we are taking for granted. Questions of implication force us to follow out where our thinking is going. Questions of point of view force us to examine our point of view and to consider other relevant points of view. Questions of relevance force us to discriminate what does and what does not bear on a question. Questions of accuracy force us to evaluate and test for truth and correctness. Questions of precision force us to give details and be specific. Questions of consistency force us to consider how we are putting the whole of our thought together..." (Paul 1996b pp 1 - 2)

The use of questions in developing classroom learning is dealt with in greater detail in the Analysis part of this dissertation.

2.1.6.2 Longview Community College

Longview Community College is another source for information on critical thinking. Their approach is to develop critical thinking by developing the quality of student logic. Miller and Connelly see logic as the activity of drawing conclusions from a body of information "In an informal logic or critical thinking course...at Longview, the focus is on the application of logical concepts to the analysis of everyday reasoning and problem solving" (Miller and Connelly 1997 p 1) The Longview teachers are at pain to stress that the course is not a traditional logic course but "an informal logic that begins with the perception that people don't actually reason all that well, but jumps from there to the matter of doing something about it." (Miller and Connelly 1997 p 1)

The main areas covered in the Longview critical thinking course are :

1 The vocabulary of logic and arguments - the basic concepts

2 The logical form (structure) of good and bad arguments

3 The types of (informal) incorrect reasoning (fallacies)

4 New ways to look at language as proposing new theories of how words are to be used.

5 The usual sources of our information and the most common ways we are led astray by them. (Miller and Connelly 1997 p 2)

2.1.7 Conclusion on critical thinking and approaches to teaching critical thinking.

Many of today’s definitions (October 2003) are summative definitions and or refinements of some of the early definitions. What is emerging is the rich range of ideas, approaches and opportunities that are available for the teacher who wishes to manage the development of critical thinking in students. There is no one way of developing critical thinking but a range that allows the teacher to develop a pedagogy that is rich in student learning experiences. Together with creative use of curriculum theory, the teacher can create an environment that encourages and stimulates critical thinking in the student.

What is very clear in 2003 is that the original stance taken in this paper that critical thinking should be an inclusive part of learning is now in general acceptance by writers on the subject.  Roy Eichhorn in a US Army paper www.belvoir.army.mil/roy.html when he says:

Based on our experience, we teach critical thinking in two major phases. The first phase is teaching students what critical thinking is and what the major components are. The second phase includes modelling critical thinking, fostering it, evaluating the student’s thinking, and coaching them. Of the two sets of activities , the latter is infinitely more difficult.” (Eichhorn  p 7)

The richness of what constitutes critical thinking is seen from the following words and phrases relating to critical thinking in the texts mentioned earlier.

Curiosity, scepticism, reflection, rationality
Desire to explore
Reflective /reasonable thinking - what to believe or do
Taking charge of own thinking
Making good choices
Determining the accuracy and value of information
Frame of mind 
Ability to differentiate opinion from evidence
Support opinions with non spurious evidence
Propose alternatives
Weighing pros and cons of what is known
Thinking about thinking
Connecting new information to former knowledge
Problem solving
Interpretation, analysis, evaluation
Developing higher order skills
Explain what they think and how they arrive at solutions
Socratic questioning
Teacher creating environment for creative thinking
Building on what they know 
Encouraging sensitivity to problems
On going instruction in thinking skills
Creating mental picture (memory maps)
Preparing students for change in teacher expectations
Encouraging group learning
Asking open ended questions
Giving students time to create answers to questions
Strong supportative, structured classroom
The range of techniques means that all teachers would be able to provide students with a repertoire of skills and techniques that will foster critical thinking.
 
What strategies can teachers use while teaching their regular subject matter, but in a way that will facilitate student thinking processes? The staff at the Benchmark School in Media Pennsylvania wanted to help their students improve skills in both knowledge acquisition and knowledge production. They chose strategies for processing information at both cognitive and metacognitive levels.
 
The teachers taught explicit achieving meaning and improving memory strategies that included:
(a) surveying
(b)accessing background knowledge
(c)predicting, hypothesising, setting purposes
(d)evaluating ideas
(e)comparing
(f)creating mental images
(g)making inferences
(h)generating questions
(i)asking for clarification
(j)selecting important ideas and text elements
(k)elaborating by thinking of examples, non-examples, analogies
(1)paraphrasing and summarising
(m)monitoring progress
(n)classifying information
(o)identifying relationships and patterns
(p)organising key ideas through visuals, outlines, lists
(q)transferring and applying concepts to new situations
(r)rehearsing and applying study skills
(Gaskins and Thorne 1991)
 
2.2 Teacher Knowledge for Managing the Teaching of Critical Thinking

The approaches to critical thinking need to be seen within a teaching structure that requires and understanding of teaching and learning theory. Only then can we begin to consider the process of teaching critical thinking within the curriculum.

2.2.1 Curriculum Theory

One of the current problems facing teachers and lecturers is the perceived lack of time to innovate due to the increasing stress on course outcomes and not the process of such courses. This requires an examination of aspects of curriculum theory in order to explore whether process can still be a major part of the modern educational system.

Stenhouse wrote that the curriculum :

...expresses in the form of teaching materials and criteria for teaching a view of knowledge and the conception of the process of education. It provides a framework in which the teacher can develop new skills and relate them as he does so to conceptions of knowledge and learning.  (Stenhouse 1980 p 68)

The words "process...and develop new skills and relate them..." are fundamental. They are the existing and new skills I see as applying to myself as a teacher. I see the curriculum as a constantly changing process that is :

...like the recipe for a dish, is first imagined as a possibility, then as the subject of experiment...Similarly, a curriculum should be grounded in practice. It is an attempt so to describe the work observed in classrooms, that it is adequately communicated to teachers and others. Finally, within limits, a recipe can be varied according to taste. So can a curriculum. (Stenhouse 1975 pp 4-5)

This early vision of the reflective practitioner who sees curriculum as a recipe to be varied according to taste requires me to adopt what Stenhouse (1980 p 86) referred to as fine tuning and constantly adjusting the curriculum. The constant reassessment and readjustment of the curriculum is a necessity for the teacher who strives to be a teacher who genuinely recognises the student as partner in the learning process. This approach is grounded in the theory of the teacher making learning possible as described in Ramsden (1992 pp 114 - 116)

Like Stenhouse I see the function of the curriculum as :

...an attempt to communicate the essential principles and features of an educational proposal in such a form that it is open to critical scrutiny and capable of effective translation in practice (Stenhouse 1975 p 4)

This, in turn, leads to the requirement of teachers to test practice through reflection and analysis. The perceptions that help form the constructs of the teacher who aspires to follow the path suggested by Stenhouse come from a number of sources, including the views of the students. The view of Entwistle on what constitutes good teaching assumes good feedback. :

In surveys of students, a clear relationship was established linking 'freedom in learning' and 'good teaching' with deep approaches. In departments where students felt they were given opportunities to choose what and how they learned, a higher proportion of them adopted a 'deep approach'. 'good teaching' in lectures was described in terms of 'level', 'pace', 'structure', and 'rapport'. But above all in interviews, students stressed how striking explanations and enthusiasm affected their learning. (Entwistle 1987 p 92)

An important observation, and one often repeated is that "Teachers have tended to overemphasise content to the exclusion of process" (Entwistle 1987 p 112) This is particularly interesting as Entwistle was speaking of pre national curriculum times. It suggests that the need to consider context is more necessary that even with the advent of the national curriculum.

The concept of process is well brought out in an FEU report that stresses the need for :

Enthusiasm for the subject and a caring attitude towards students were expected and valued, and any lapse from this perceived professionalism was harshly criticised...

It appears...that communication with students in order to explain what they are doing, and why, is an important factor in the working with this new clientele in FE. (FEU 1990 p 25)

Further changes in the role of the teacher involves the shift of the teacher from being a transmitter of knowledge to the recognition of the teacher as a creator of learning opportunities :

...the teacher's role changes from knowing everything and explaining everything to showing where the information can be found and how to obtain it : he is no longer the sole linguistic model; he is the guide to different types of discourse...the teacher is no longer the sole informant, he is one amongst many. (Gremmo and Abe 1985 p 200)

An examination of curriculum theory provides the teacher with a solid basis for the developing of the teachers own disposition towards managing of learning. It also involves the teacher in reflecting on professional practice.

2.2.4 Learning Styles and Critical Thinking

Many writers on critical thinking make it clear that student disposition or attitude is necessary in any development of the skills. It follows from this that we need to relate the process of critical thinking to learning style in order to elicit an understanding of how student learning styles might influence their critical thinking, and the management by the teacher in facilitating such learning. This makes our existing classroom environment and the managing of critical thinking even more complex.

Learning styles are the preferences students have for thinking, relating to others, and particular types of classroom environments and experiences.

2.2.4.1 Mumford and Honey

This approach suggests that there are four categories of learners :

Theorist : seeks to understand concepts and takes the intellectual approach. Finds learning difficult if teacher has different style to them.

Reflector : observes phenomena, thinks, chooses fairly slow, often non participative

Activist : enjoys practical, active problems - not much patience with theory. Inclined to take risks, easily bored.

Pragmatist : likes to study when able to see a direct link with practical problems. Usually business like and realistic (Honey and Mumford 1986)

Usually one or two learning styles predominate. When this occurs we should consciously seek to develop the weaker styles.

2.2.4.2 Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle

There are four phases to the experiential learning cycle : 1 Experience 2 Reflect 3 Develop 4 Apply, then 1 through 4 again until we are happy with the outcome. This disciplined approach formalises what many practitioners actually do. What it does is to confirm that the process is one that should occur and one we can learn from. (Kolb 1984, 1985)

In an ideal classroom the student's learning cycle could begin with the involvement through personal experience with a particular problem. Next, the student will reflect on the experience. When the student understands the meaning of the experience through reflection, she is able to apply the learning to more personal experiences and so the cycle begins once again. It is a cyclical learning experience through reflection and experimentation.

One of the contributions of Kolb's work, together with that of Schon has been the development of professional reflective practice. What is clear is that this reflective practice is not automatic, but something that needs constant development, as well as the will to carry out the reflection. When properly done reflection can aid critical and creative thinking.

2.2.4.3 Grasha-Riechmann Student Learning Style

One of the popular approaches to learning style analysis in the USA is the Grasha-Riechmann Student Learning Style Scales (GRSLSS). (Grasha 1990) Questions are based upon the classroom experiences of the student and include items such as, "I like to study for tests with other students," "I seldom get excited about material covered in class," .

The approach is to analyse the personality types such as competitive, collaborative, aviodant, participant, dependent and independent. For each personality style there are characteristics and learning preferences.

Teachers using the GRSLSS obtain a numerical profile showing where individual students and the class as a group fall on each dimension. The mean scores for one such testing of an American history class is indicative of the process and analysis of the data : Competitive (3.7), Collaborative (2.6), Independent (2.2), Dependent (3.9), Participant (4.1), Avoidant (1.8). The rating scale ranged from 1 to 5, with 1 indicating a low score on a particular learning style and 5, a high score. The test was administered during the first week of class. Relative to norms for the test, the scores revealed that students were somewhat low on the collaborative and independent dimensions, a little higher than average on dependency, and somewhat competitive and willing to participate in classroom activities.

Based on this information, the instructor decided to modify certain aspects of the course. The instructor decided to employ techniques that would enhance their independent and collaborative learning styles. Learning styles are the preferences students have for thinking, relating to others, and particular types of classroom environments and experiences.

Grasha (1990) examines what are termed the traditional personality type approaches to learning preferences with the naturalistic approach that uses observation, interviews and the like. The conclusion is that both approaches can produce useful information.

In the final analysis, both traditional and naturalistic approaches are useful. What counts is that people use them in the spirit of learning more about their teaching and how to better meet the needs of the learners they serve. (Grasha 1990 p 38)

2.2.4.4 Learning and Psychological Type

2.2.4.4.1 Campbell and Davis

A somewhat different approach is taken by Campbell and Davis who attempt to relate critical thinking to psychological type.

We believe that learning, and the shift toward thinking critically, might be enhanced if learners' individual preferences are diagnostically evaluated through an analysis of psychological type. Once individual learning preferences are identified, these preferences could be integrated with appropriate teaching methods to improve higher order thinking skills. Campbell and Davis (1990 p 2)

Campbell and Davis suggest that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can form a useful way to understanding learning preferences and thereby help the development of critical thinking within a context where skills in perception and judgement lead to problem solving through analysing, synthesising and evaluating .

Learning Preferences Associated With the MBTI
Extroversion                   Introversion
Talking and discussion         Reading/verbal reasoning
Psychomotor activity           Time for internal processing
Group activities               Individual work
Sensing                        Intuition
Tasks calling for carefulness  Tasks calling for quickness of insight
thoroughness, and sound        and seeing relationships
understanding                  Global, finding new ways
Linear processing of routine   Concepts Specifics
Thinking                       Feeling
Objective material             Personal relationships
Logical organization of 
Teacher                        Personal rapport with teacher
Rules, laws, and procedures    Harmony, empathy, and balance
Judgment                       Perception
Structure and order             Flexible and adaptive
Formal instruction methods     Informal problem solving
Directed                       Autonomous
(Campbell and Davis 1990 p 4)

 

2.2.4.4.2 Huitt

Huitt in a comprehensive analysis of the application of the Myers Briggs test to learning styles quotes McCaulley (1987) who describes the problem-solving characteristics of two of the 16 MBTI types, ISTJ (Introversion, Sensing, Thinking, and Judging) and ENFP (Extrovert, Intuition, Feeling and Perceiving)

In problem solving, ISTJ will want a clear idea of the problem (I) and attack it by looking for the facts (S) and by relying on a logical, impersonal (T), step-by-step approach in reaching conclusions. In contrast, ENFP will throw out all sorts of possibilities (N), seeking feedback from the environment to clarify the problem (E). Brainstorming (NP) will be enjoyed. The human aspects of the problem (F) are likely to be emphasized over impersonal, technical issues (T). To the ISTJ, the ENFP approach is likely to seem irrational or scattered. To the ENFP, the ISTJ approach is likely to seem slow and unimaginative. (pp. 43-44) (Huitt 1992 p 4).

These are just two of the numerous examples of attempts to relate learning styles to psychological type. This type of analysis is more frequent in the United States and is relatively little used in the United Kingdom. What the psychological analysis of learning types stresses is the range of learning styles that exist. and the possibility that students with certain psychological preferences in learning styles may suffer if these styles are not recognised, either by the teacher or those who prescribe the form of public examinations.

2.2.5 Theories of learning

Now that we have an understanding of, and the importance of learning styles, we need a knowledge of learning theories. Learning theories can help us further our understanding of learning styles and can help us in the creating of the curriculum in a way that best meets the needs of the student.

There is a wide range of learning theories. Some of the more popular are behaviourism, social learning theories and constructive theories. Behaviourism tends to emphasise the outcomes of learning. In this very broad sense behaviourism is not particularly helpful to the teacher concerned with managing the process of learning. Social learning theory, associated with Bandura which states that learning comes from observing and imitating models, such as the teacher. This theory has relevance to teaching critical skills especially when related to personnel managers who often seek to discover what they believe to be "best practice".

When we seek to discover "best practice" we engage in constructivism. Constructive theories of learning are a valuable source for the manager of the curriculum. Our personal constructs were recognised by Kelly (1955) who emphasised the role of future behaviour and how our personal construct allows us to cope with future problems. The coping with such problems allow us to develop and revise our personal constructs.

One of the leading writers on constructive theory is Piaget. Of especial interest to this study is the view of Piaget that after the age of about 12 years the student becomes capable of logical and abstract thinking. Through assimilation, the process of using existing information to come to logical conclusions, we can accommodate new information resulting in knowledge development as we understand the significance of the new information. When we come across new information that does not link with our existing (assimilated knowledge) we encounter dissonance. This uncertainty creates a knowledge void, but acts as a stimulant to learning and the resolve of problems. The knowledge acquired in solving such problems increases our stock of knowledge and fosters development.

For Piaget, growth of knowledge comes through the our own construction of knowledge through our experiences. These experiences are our own active experiences and our attempts to create sense from these experiences. Other writers have stressed that constructive theory needs outside assistance in its development.

Ausubel provides the student with outside help in the construction of knowledge in the form of personal organiser. This might be in the form of a memory map that serves as a link between something already masters and a problem we are about to tackle. Bruner makes a similar approach with the spirals of learning, where in subjects such as law we might use an initial shallow approach and then a spiral of deeper learning to build on previous knowledge (the shallow learning)

Vygotsky adopts a more social rather than the individual approach of Piaget to constructive theory. Of especial value to the manager of critical thinking in further education are the concepts of scaffolding - the support in the learning of knowledge that can be taken away when the knowledge, has in Piaget's terms; been assimilated. The Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) of Vygotsky refers to the

...gap between what a given child can achieve alone, their 'potential development as determined by independent problem solving' and what they can achieve 'through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers. (Wood and Wood 1996 p 5)

It is the role of the teacher to determine the nature of help and guidance and the process of collaboration. The critical feature of this approach is the interaction of the student and teacher in the learning process and the critical role of feedback from both teacher and student in the process. The intent is a gradual shift of learning responsibility from teacher to student (fading)

Effective helping of task competence involves say Wood and Wood (1996 p 6 - 7) the circumstances in which the student finds the work difficult and the judging of what minimal help is needed to ensure the student is moving towards a successful outcome that itself ensures that both teacher and student are satisfied with the outcome. In this approach scaffolding and fading both have critical parts to play in the development of the thinking process.

Jarvela (1995 p 239) stresses that recent research shows the complexity of social interactions involved in learning and that

...learning is a complex social interaction containing multiple actors, each with....own intentions and interpretations...{that} influence one another's knowledge, opinions, and values and which interact to produce shared cognitive products (Leinhardt and Greeno 1986, Levine et al 1993 Pintrich, Marx and Boyle 1993)

The teacher cannot and need not know all the theories relating to learning, be it theories of learning, styles of learning and the curriculum. What is important is to know that such information exists, where one can discover , and to be able to utilise the information in the development of the curriculum.

Tribe (1996) explores the process of student learning by stating that "university students who fail in one university do on to perform satisfactorily in another" (Tribe 1996 p 5) Tribe is willing to explore both teacher and student reason for this phenomenon.

Tribe states that Ausubel provides the most common model used in Higher Education where learning is explicitly related to previously acquired knowledge, learners must see the 'meaning' of new material and that there must be a positive disposition from the student.

The recognition of the problem of the learner, in the manner propounded by Dewey; suggested the value of dissonance as a means of promoting a strong motivational force in order to learn in order to resolve a learning conflict.

All of this means that the teacher ought to provide questions that encourage meaningful intellectual activity.

Ausubel also requires the use of " appropriately clear and inclusive introductory materials that operate as 'advanced organisers" for the learning that is to follow". (Tribe 1996 p 9) The organiser of Ausubel is not an overview of the subject but sets the matter in an explanatory context that "can provide the basis for the retention and incorporation of the more detailed and differentiated subject matter that is to follow" (Tribe 1996 p 9)

2.2.6 Surface and Deep Learning

Entwistle (1987 pp 56 - 64) describes learning from the pupil's perspective. Characteristics of deep, surface and strategic approaches (Entwistle p 60 Table 3.1) are set out in some detail along with student descriptions of how they approached their work (Entwistle 1987 p 59) These theoretical aspects and their use in practice will play a vital part in teacher examination of the process of teaching critical thinking skills in the classroom.

2.2.7 Gardner and theory of Multiple Intelligence's

In 1985 Howard Gardner stated that it was wrong to assume that IQ is a single fixed entity that can be measured by a IQ test.

As human beings we all have a repertoire of skills for solving different kinds of problems. For Gardner it's how we use these skills that indicates intelligence. And he defines intelligence this way: An Intelligence is an ability to understand something or to solve a problem in the context in which the problem or situation arises. If we are lost and only one of our party knows how to use the emergency radio that person is, in that context, demonstrating intelligence.

Gardner in conversation with Checkley states :

The standard view of intelligence is that intelligence is something you are born with; you have only a certain amount of it; you cannot do much about how much of that intelligence you have; and tests exist that can tell you how smart you are. The theory of multiple intelligences challenges that view. It asks, instead, "Given what we know about the brain, evolution, and the differences in cultures, what are the sets of human abilities we all share?" (Checkley 1997 p 2)

The consequence says Gardner is that :

Teachers have to help students use their combination of intelligences to be successful in school, to help them learn whatever it is they want to learn, as well as what the teachers and society believe they have to learn...The point is to realize that any topic of importance, from any discipline, can be taught in more than one way. (Checkley 1997 p3)

The categories of intelligence identified by Gardner are :

Linguistic Intelligence. The ability to read, write, and communicate with words.          

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence. The ability to reason and calculate, to think things through in a logical, systematic manner.

Visual-Spatial Intelligence. The ability to think in pictures, to visualise a future situation.

Musical Intelligence. The ability to make or compose music, to understand and appreciate music. Most of us have a basic musical intelligence that can be developed in order to be able to hear patterns, recognize them, remember them, and perhaps manipulate them.

Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence. The ability to use your body skilfully to solve problems, create products, or present ideas and emotions.

Interpersonal (Social) Intelligence. The ability to work effectively with others.

Intrapersonal Intelligence. The ability for self-analysis and reflection.

Naturalist Intelligence. This category was added in 1996 and is the ability to recognize flora and fauna, to make other consequential distinctions in the natural world

Gardner's idea and use of multiple intelligence is seen in a reply to a question from Checkley :

What I argue against is the notion that there's only one way to learn how to read, only one way to learn how to compute, only one way to learn about biology. I think that such contentions are nonsense.

It's equally nonsensical to say that everything should be taught seven or eight ways. That's not the point of the MI theory. The point is to realize that any topic of importance, from any discipline, can be taught in more than one way. There are things people need to know, and educators have to be extraordinarily imaginative and persistent in helping students understand things better. (Checkley 1997 p 6)

In my own practice I have started to give students (studying professional examinations in Law) notes on how to think about the subject and to engage in more effective and efficient learning. I have drawn on the work of Gardner as well as using techniques from my own practice. What I have done is to appreciate that need to put the material in a form that allows the student (and myself) to see a framework based on theory and practice that itself becomes theory in the sense described by McCutcheon :

[They] are the set of constructs. beliefs and principles on which practitioners base decisions and actions. Practitioners develop these theories through their experiences and reflections, and to a lessor extent through reading or hearing about generic theory. Such theories illuminate and guide practitioners' work because they comprise interrelated sets of interpretations about what shouldbe taught and learned, how to improve and evaluate teaching and learning, and how to deal with daily tasks of managing curriculum development, classes, and work (McCutcheon 1985 pp. 47-48).   

It is easily apparent that linguistic skills are important to a subject such as law where we have to deal with words and their frequently complex meanings. What is not so obvious is the need for those students of law to develop skills such as visual, logical-mathematical and interpersonal skills.

Visual skills are important because we tend to think in terms of pictures and then the mind translates the picture into words. It is based on the view of people like Arthur Koestler who stated that true creativity (thinking) begins where verbal language ends and visual appreciation takes place. The key word technique is an important application. A superb example of verbal / visual transference is the story of the Post it Note. We will return to the use of visual skills when we consider the use of key words and memory maps in the study of law.

Context / Memory maps Because we see words in the form of pictures we can utilise this to develop our thinking skills as well as in developing a useful way of storing and recalling information. I use such techniques to teach law relating to Sale of Goods. My notes are the visual picture I have of the memory map. The preparation of the memory map helps develop thinking ability. In personnel studies, topics such as HRM, may be better appreciated through memory maps.

Key words Some subjects lend themselves to key word analysis, which derives from computer database search techniques and the belief that we see things in terms of pictures.

Law students find learning cases a problem. I encourage them to take a piece of paper with three headings

Topic                                        Name of case                         Key words

One case we use in contract law is Calill v Carbolic Smokeball Company Ltd 1893 (I bet those of you who have studied law smiled when you saw the case name) The first two columns are easily dealt with. The key word column is more difficult. As the student learns the case the key word could be a sentence or even a paragraph. Eventually the student will end with something like this :

Topic                                        Name of case                                                                       Key words       

Contract                                    Calill v Carbolic Smokeball Company                    Influenza cure failed

Offer Certainty

It may not be immediately apparent how logical-mathematical intelligence can develop the learning of law. Perhaps we are too influenced by the word mathematics and tend to ignore what Gardner really meant. The logical-mathematical approach is an enquiring approach. Basically it encourages questions, seeking of answers to questions such as what, why, when.

Interpersonal and intrapersonal skills such as communication, listening, empathy are also considerable assets to the student of law. However, there is a need to take these skills further and to engage in meaningful construction and reconstruction of the material that is being learned. This process of interpersonal and intrapersonal skills allows us to both to develop and further our learning and understand the subject matter and to communicate that understanding to an examiner. (John1998)

What was becoming clear was the importance of disposition of both teacher and student towards critical and creative thinking. The study undertaken by Anderson et al (1997) acted both as catalyst to learning and a means of triangulating my developing theories.

The SSFE study found that :

FE lecturers and accrediting bodies are somewhat confused regarding exactly what kind of thinking skills they are trying to promote in learners (Anderson et al 1997 p 9)

An area worthy of scrutiny is the view that the "material which the students were producing was being considered against the authorising bodies yardstick (real or apparent)" (Anderson et al 1997 p 3). This requires a depth examination of the dispositions of both student and teacher towards thinking skills and whether teacher, student and assessment bodies have developed a form of coping strategy towards assessment of GNVQs.

The multiple intelligence approach of Gardner is significant for the SSFE research of Anderson et al as it identifies intelligence's needed to develop those skills found to be missing from the colleges subject to that study. The skills were showing justification, unique answers, intrinsic value, alternative approaches, critical appraisal and abstract ideas, and feedback. These are the very same skills Kuhn found missing (page 3 above and Anderson et al 1997 p1)

GNVQ type courses provide opportunities for the student and teacher to use multiple intelligence's as skills for developing the higher taxonomies of learning (Bloom et al 1956 Biggs and Collis 1982).

If the constructivist approach to learning based on concepts such as modelling and scaffolding is accepted than the question of student and teacher disposition appears in order to attempt to discover why such well conceived courses of study have not been the success expected of them. Could the answer lie in coping strategies that adopt behaviourist approaches such as those that led to Anderson suggesting that "tutor SCOTVEC speak" contributed to an absence of specific goals and no recognition of opportunities for the critical appraisal of data that project design allows. (Anderson et al 1997 p 4)

2.2.8 Reflective Professional Practice

McCutcheon (1985 pp 47-48) stresses that teacher development of pedagogic theory comes from an understanding of our tacit knowledge that only becomes clear through reflection on and in our practice.

The view of the teacher as guide or coach interested Schon (1987) who felt that professional education was in crisis because it concentrated on the high ground of the technical rational approach to problems rather than concentrating on explaining the real life complexity of professional practice in what Schon refers to as the 'swamp'. Schon felt that textbooks were inadequate in the dealing of these problems.

   The problems of the real world do not present themselves to practitioners as well formed structures...they tend to present themselves...as messy, indeterminate solutions. (Schon 1987 p 4)

Schon felt that the competent professional uses a combination of knowledge, intuition and action to resolve professional problems. The professional uses the accumulated repertoire of experience to help deal with the messy problem. Improvisation occurs, such as that of the jazz musician.

The solving of the messy problem has a theoretical framework. The intuitive response of the professional is termed knowing in action. This is an automatic response by the professional, drawing on and improvising a range of known strategies for dealing with such issues.

In order to deal with the unpredictable problem, Schon states that we must bring our knowing in action process to the surface and subject it to reflection. Reflection can be of two kinds, reflection in action, which occurs as we tackle the problem and reflection on action, where we reflect on the process of resolving the problem.

Schon saw the study of professional practice as a valid learning experience. This learning occurs through the reflective analysis and evaluation of how we dealt with the problem.

The student professional reflector is taught by a coach, who guides the learner through the process of reasoning and decision making that prompted the solution to the problem.

What is important about reflection is that it is part of a deliberate thinking process and is not a substitute for problem solving, analysing or decision making. (Jones 1996 p 303) Jones reminds us of Eraut's claim of reflection as being a performance period. Thus, reflection in action is a form of metacognition whilst reflection on action is seen as deliberation (Jones 1996 p 302)

Reflective practice can be classified in a number of ways. (Day et al 1993 p 13 in Lofthouse 1994 p 133) shows a five level model that moves, in reflection in action from instinctive reaction to the more developmental "repair", where time is given to thought in practice. When we look at reflection on action, Day sees review as a time out to re assess our action as a basic form of reflection whilst the advanced form of reflection on action would be research which is the systematic, sharply focused reflection over a long period. Finally Day refers to reflection about action which is the re theorising of the research part of reflection in action. Another approach is :

1 descriptive reports, without reflection

2 descriptive reflection where the reflection can be of the most basic form.

3 dialogic reflection which sees the author of the report stepping back from the subject matter and engaging with a discourse with oneself. Such reflective reports might show terms such as " what I planned to do with the class was ...This did not seem to work because..." It is this movement beyond because that makes descriptive reflection change to dialogic reflection.

4 critical reflection, where there is a link with socio- political action. (Smith and Hatton 1993 p 16)

This classification of forms of reflective practice of Smith and Hatton is warning against the temptation to indulge in superficial reflection. It is easy for the teacher to come out of a class and ask oneself the question "Was that class adequate?" Reflection comes from second order questions such as "Why was the class adequate" " How could I have improved the class". The Smith and Hatton approach together with the approach of Day et al will provide the basics of a rigorous reflection process. It is then up to the practitioner to ensure that the discipline of reflection is maintained.

This does not mean that reflection is part of the everyday accoutrements of the teacher. Smith and Hatton have analysed the problems reflection has had in becoming accepted in teacher education and practice :

These include : the perception that reflection is not normally associated with teaching (Elbaz 1988) and therefore alienating and useless to teachers and student teacher (Zeichner 1990) a lack of time (Noffke and Brennan 1988) to develop the metacognitive skills necessary (McNamara 1990) feelings of vulnerability by student teachers and therefore reluctance to engage in reflective activity (Wildman and Niles 1987) and, very important, the fact that traditional ideologies of teacher education programs do not provide conditions or attitudes conducive to effective reflection (Zeichner 1990, Calderhead 1989) (Smith and Hatton 1993 p 17)

Reflection is important for the thinking student. The words of Hatton and Smith make clear that they may have to be encouraged to become a fledgling reflector by a being given a simple introduction to reflection and its value. In personnel courses this is relatively easy as students can be encouraged (it helps that they see a practical value to their reflection) to reflect on their own practice. As adults, they want to learn, therefore the environment is favourable. What is not so obvious to the student is the need for a disciplined approach to reflection. A few examples of superficial reflection and deeper applications of reflections can usually convince the student of the value of "proper" reflection on and in practice. With younger students following behavioural driven courses such as GNVQ there is more difficulty in persuading students of the intrinsic value of reflection when they may not be convinced of its extrinsic value.

Chen sees several elements that can be identified in reflective teaching :

a time element - when does reflection occur, level and style of reference - why and how does reflection occur, and orientation - what is the foci of reflection - a problematic or a fixed curriculum, a practical versus a moral and ethical commitment, and by a narrow versus broad context of reference. Framing the categories are three dimensions of reflection : cognition, social and moral. (Chen 1993 p 48)

2.2.8.1 Reflection in practice

The theory of reflection as espoused through Schon and others portrays a neat orderly process that, if followed; will lead to an improvement in professional practice. However, teaching is a living, changing and unpredictable experience. Green describes the social interaction of the classroom well in stating that :

As members of a classroom interact over time, they define roles and relationships, norms and expectations, and rights and obligations of daily life. From this social constructionist perspective, classroom life is not a given, but is viewed as constituted through the dynamic networks composed of diverse individuals who actively engage in the negotiation of who, does what, to and with whom, for what purpose(s), under what condition(s), when and where, with what outcome(s) (Zaharlick and Green,1991 in Green 1993 p Check page in Education Research and Perspectives Vol 20 No 1 June 1993).

Whilst Day (1993) states that we know little of how teachers make decisions on reflection and how reflection leads to change in teacher practice. This process of understanding reflection is assisted claims Smyth (1991 p 106) through the processes of describing, informing, confronting and reconstructing our practice.

Eisner (1995) refers to reflection as educational connoisseurship where we seek to develop the art of appreciating our practice through describing, interpreting and evaluation that practice.

Moses (1991) stresses that reflection requires teachers in higher education to be a model for students to appreciate a commitment to professional and personal growth through critical reflection and self evaluation.

2.2.9 Ramsden

The work of Paul Ramsden has been a major influence on my reflection on practice and developing the desire of students to learn. Ramsden sees three theories of teaching in higher education :

        Teaching as telling or transmission
               Teaching as organising student activity
               Teaching as making learning possible. (Ramsden 1992 pp 111 -116)

Teaching as making learning possible is the centre of Ramsden's philosophy of teaching :

In this conception, teaching, students, and the subject content to be learnt are linked together by an overarching framework or system. Teaching is comprehended as a process of working co-operatively with learners to help them change their understanding. It is making student learning possible. Teaching involves finding out about students' misunderstandings, intervening to change them, and creating a context of learning which encourages students actively to engage with the subject matter. A teacher who uses this theory will recognise and focus especially on the key issues that seem to represent critical barriers to student learning. (Ramsden 1992 p 114)

Much of Ramsden's work involves comments and analysis of comments of teachers and students in a range of subjects. Not surprisingly, Ramsden stresses that students are more likely to be enthusiastic if they see the teacher as being stimulating. (Ramsden 1992 p 73)

Whilst stimulating teaching is important, Ramsden warns of the danger of confusing colourful teaching with good teaching. "A good performance is not necessarily good teaching" (Ramsden 1992 p 74) . Learning, claims Ramsden comes from :

Teaching which is perceived to combine certain human qualities with explanatory skills is the most likely to encourage deep approaches. (Ramsden 1992 p75)

An art student quoted by Ramsden, provides an interesting student perspective of the interpersonal qualities of the teacher and its effect on a particular student :

The staff weren't concerned to push a particular view; they were just very concerned to help you to come to a personal understanding, to get to know your own viewpoints through art. (Ramsden 1992 p 76)

In like manner a history student says :

Luckily I'm doing some courses with good tutors on them. They can make the books come alive because they can direct you to a chapter or a passage, and that's important. If you get a guideline from a tutor, then it's a godsend. (Ramsden 1992 p 77)

The importance of the student knowing exactly what the teacher need from her is demonstrated when Ramsden (1992 p 141) quotes from (Eizenberg 1988 p 187) an example of anatomy students learning the subject in the form of mass of facts that have to be committed to memory instead of treating it as a highly structured and interconnected subject. In the revised course discussed by Eizenberg the importance of the student comprehending the structural aspects of anatomy is made known to the students. Only then can the student appreciate that anatomy should be learnt (and taught) through the understanding of key related concepts and not by memorising details.

It is interesting to note the warning of Eizenberg (Ramsden 1992 p 245) that many of the educational advantages of his anatomy course were diminished by excessive work loads in other parts of the programme.

I have tried, within my own practice, not always with success, to apply the examples given by Ramsden to developing my own practice and in improving the quality of learning experienced by my students. Where failure has occurred it has usually been as a result of my failure to properly manage the learning experience. I need to remember at all times :

A less effective course will focus primarily on content (with the main emphasis on the teacher's knowledge). In contrast, a soundly structured course will focus on the aims for student learning (with the emphasis on the relation between students and the content to be learned. (Ramsden 1992 p 139)

2.2.10 Wood

In an American text Wood discusses the legislated excellence movement in the United States and warns that its preoccupation with content ignores the context of classroom instruction. (Wood 1992 p 127) Wood's contribution is in the examples of teacher management of the curriculum such at Central Park East school where illustrations are given of students constructing their own instrument for tackling a complex mathematics problem. The importance and impact of communication by the teacher in the process of change is aptly stated by Wood :

The way they organize instruction provides the time to talk with, not to the students, to push each student to reach new insights in his / her work, to just listen to very young person in the room (Wood 1993 p 95)

2.3 Motivation

Student disposition to critical thinking is encouraged through motivation. Motivation is a term we use daily but is one which most of us have surface knowledge and not much specific knowledge of its application. Most of can say that motivation is perhaps about encouraging people, some of us might even describe the works of Maslow (1954) and Herzberg.(1964). Very few will be able to relate the theories of motivation and describe how they can be put to practical help in the classroom.

There are numerous theories of motivation starting with the basic diet of Maslow and Herzberg through to elaborate combinations of theories of motivation. Whilst Maslow and Herzberg can provide us with some basic ideas of motivation, we need to look at other alternatives such as task characteristics theory of Hackman and Oldham (1980) expectancy theory, especially as it can be applied in education (Robbins (1993) Goal setting (Locke (1968) equity theory (Stacey Adams 1965) reinforcement theory (Skinner 1972), attribution theory (Rogers 1982) and achievement motivation theory (McClelland 1961).

All these theories can help the teacher motivate the student. Although Skinner's theory is often associated with classroom management it has much to commend it as a motivator to performance. Peters and Waterman were surprised at the amount of positive reinforcement they saw in companies and state that :

The systems in excellent companies are not only designed to produce lots of winners; they were constructed to celebrate the winning once it occurs. (Peters and Waterman 1982 p 58)

What interested Peters and Waterman was that the excellent companies not only knew about positive reinforcement, but more importantly knew how to manage it. They are adept at creating a positive environment :

As Skinner notes, the way the reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount. First it ought to be specific...second the reinforcement should have immediacy...third, the system of feedback mechanisms should take account of achieveability...and we must note the fourth characteristic of the feedback comes in a form of an intangible but ever so meaningful attention from top management. (Peters and Waterman 1982 p 70 -71)

These comments are as applicable to teaching as to industry.

Rogers (1982) showed how attribution theory could be applied to schools. Amongst the points made by were :

   a) Success is accepted as being due to our own effort whilst failure is frequently ascribed to factors outside one's control (i.e. being unfair)

   b) The unusual is ascribed to fortune, good or bad - the poor student will see a good performance as being due to good luck - the bad student will see a bad performance as due to bad luck.

c) Rogers felt that teachers reinforce the luck theory of the individual student

d) Students use coping strategies to mark ability (i.e. I didn't try)

   (Rogers 1982 in Handy 1985 p 267)

The objective of motivation to Peters and Waterman was to make everyone a winner. The work of Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968) and subsequent works have shown the capability for the making the "everyone a winner " philosophy of motivation reality in practice. The scaffolding and fading associated with the constructivist approach to teaching can be utilised to make everyone a winner through careful use of motivational and educational theories.

The use of goal theory and its combination with feedback that makes for potent and rewarding motivation. Greenberg and Baron provide examples of research by Pritchard et al (1988) on the combination of goal setting and feedback as powerful motivating forces in the US Air Force. (Greenberg and Baron 1993 pp 121 - 127) Latham and Locke (1979) provides advice on how to avoid depressing students by setting goals that are too difficult. The example of the IBM salesperson and achievable targets is an illustration of the importance of setting achievable goals. Landy and Becker (1987) examined the appropriateness of various theories in certain situations. The value of this study is that it allows us to determine the most appropriate motivational technique to suit our need and it suggests that we can one more than one technique in dealing with a particular motivational situation. I have adapted the work to show just two requirements, increased productivity and personal satisfaction.

Theory                         Objective (increased) 
                                              Productivity Satisfaction 
Need                                          3              2
(such as Maslow)
Task
Characteristic                                3              4
(such as Hackman and Oldham)
Goal setting                                  5
(such as Locke)
Reinforcement                                 3
(such as Skinner)
Equity                                        3               2
(such as Stacy Adams)
Expectancy                                    4
(such as Robbins)

This literature list is indicative of the value of adopting a management of education approach to a subject such as motivation. It involves the examination of a number of sometimes conflicting, yet sometimes collaborative strategies that require careful study and analysis before we can develop appropriate strategies to a particular problem. This involves both management and leadership skills of the teacher and motivating of the student.

2.3.1 Feedback and motivation

The importance of feedback and reinforcement in the motivational process is seen in the work of Ilgen and Knowlton (1980) In their study students acted as supervisors : one worker in each group being a deliberate under or over performer.

On feedback it was noted that :

* ratings were higher when the supervisor was aware that feedback was direct with worker

* where performance was due to lack of motivation : feedback accurate

* where performance was due to lack of ability : feedback not accurate

The outcome of Ilgen and Knowlton's research is best seen in an example. One of my students on a GNVQ course had presented little work all year. Well into the last term of the course the student received a final warning from the course tutor about his lack of application. A few days later I received an assignment from the student. It was of good quality. A few days later another assignment appeared of even better quality. I told the student that the work could have been amongst the best if the student had put an effort into completing the work earlier in the course. I explained that the student had missed the opportunity of getting a higher grade etc. The point is I would not have been so open in my criticism of the student if the work had been inferior due to lack of ability.

In further studies Ilgen et al (1981) stated that feedback should be regular, not annual and that supervisors should improve their knowledge of subordinates' perceptions. Feedback works if it is understood and regarded formally by the recipient. Feedback is needed even if the feedback is negative. The work of Illgen and colleagues can just as easily be applied to the educational experience especially if we equate motivation with encouragement, interest in the student and a caring environment.

2.3.2 Motivation Strategies in the classroom

Brophy (1987) provides a range of activities that help develop student motivation. What Brophy stresses is the need for teachers to make students aware of their learning processes and for these to be discussed openly and explicitly with students. Brophy's list of motivating practices are :

General Strategies

1 Stress value and relevance of school work to everyday life

2 Show that you expect pupils to enjoy learning

3 Treat tests as ways of checking personal progress

Specific Strategies

4 Explain why you find a topic or ideas interesting

5 Introduce topics or tasks in ways that arouse interest

6 Create suspense or stimulate curiosity

7 Make abstract content more personal, concrete or familiar

8 Present paradoxes or incongruities for discussion

9 Encourage pupils to relate topics to their own interests

10 Explain course objectives and help pupils set their own goals and targets

11 Provide full and informative feedback on performance

12 Teach problem-solving by personal example

13 Encourage metacognitive awareness learning processes (provide and discuss memory aids, and lead group discussions on alternative learning strategies).

(Brophy 1987 in Entwistle 1987 p 113)

This taxonomy of strategies leads to the developing of higher level metacognitive skills through the holistic role of interpersonal skills. Fullan as an example, states that :

The abilities to communicate, listen, motivate, gain trust, and the like are all critical interpersonal skills necessary for effective leadership for change. (Fullan 1989 in Moon p 195)

Whilst Lawn also refers to interpersonal skills required to meet the needs of the curriculum :

Teaching skills are no longer defined in terms of pedagogy or curriculum       but now include required managerial features - pleasantness, teamwork          skills etc. (Lawn 1989 p 155)

2.4 Conclusion

Both teacher and student will benefit from a positive disposition to learning. The teacher must be prepared to move away from the comfort zone of the norm and to be prepared to innovate. In this respect, curriculum theory, learning theory, reflection and the use of motivation techniques can provide the initiative to interrogate and develop practice and our, and student critical and creative thinking.


 3 Methodology

3.1 Philosophic Basis for study

Habermas provides a good philosophic support for the qualitative type of research I proposed and for the outline of what I acceept as a tentative theory of knowledge. I would have embraced the work, practical / technical and emancipatory approaches considered by Habermas in the 1972 book on Knowledge and Human Interests.

The technical approach is associated with the positivist / scientific type work such as physics.

For me, the practical approach that stresses human and communicative interaction is a safe philosophic haven, although aspects of the emancipatory approach to knowledge and its link with self reflection has a particular interest. In this I feel that I am willing to be a personal revolutionary but not an institutional revolutionary whose ideas could be lost in political ideology. The transformation aspects is appealing.

Whilst I see the general approach of Habermas as a main focus of my own philosophical views, these views tend to wander and even embrace what are seen as competing philosophic approaches such as those associated with Gadamer etc.

The purpose of discussing the basics of Habermas is to position the reader (reviewer) so that they are aware of my philosophic approach and background. I find in reading research papers is that the critical bit is missing - where are they coming from and their personal constructs. In a qualitative piece of research I would regard this as almost essential information for an informed reading.

What Habermas provides is the warning that I should not be over reliant on the outcome of the pure, if it can be called pure, approach to interpretive studies. The problem is that in dealing with interpretive views we are dealing with subjective environmental factors that so often are not stated. The emancipatory approach of Habermas makes clear to me the need to remember that the basic information I gather is itself subjective and may well be of questionable validity. It is the lack of rigour in ensuring the minimum of bias and that is missing from the raw practical approach. This view of Habermas fits my own constructs and may well have been influenced by him. This is an example of the "noise distortion" that research studies can contain.

What Habermas has taught me is the need to overcome or at least recognise and minimise the "noise distortion" problems that come with our cultural baggage and the cultural baggage of our organisations and society. This stripping out of subjective "noise distortion" in the research process is why it is so important to come clean and let the reader know your personal constructs as it is only then that the reader can really get into the mind of the researcher.

Yin and the case study approach is closely linked to the general approach of Habermas in that one is seeking through critical self appraisal and reflection to minimise the subjectivity that accompanies a straight forward ethnographic account of a situation. Yin provides excellent advice on case studies and demonstrates the disciplined approach needed in making the case study as objective as possible. In this respect I ensure that any case study would have as a preamble the rules I have used in collecting the data and interpreting that data. It indicates the rules relating to case study method. Again, it is the stating of the personal constructs that provides the reader with, what I believe, is essential data.

Yin sets out an approach to case studies that allow theory to develop. Theory if it is to be of value. Theory must have a solid foundation, a foundation that comes from the best efforts to design and conduct a case study that can be replicated, and can demonstrate both internal and external validity. It seeks as much objectivity as possible from a subjective subject.

My philosophic wandering uses Habermas as a floating anchor. I can find much comfort from Habermas, but equally Gadamer and others have crumbs of comfort. As I stated earlier, my philosophic approach is to state my personal constructs for the very reason that they are not exclusive to one philosophic school. In this sense Habermas (or any other) is merely an indicator of the general philosophic approach to knowledge and not a lifelong commitment to one theorist.   

The research process whilst being a means of advancing knowledge, also serves as a disciplined and systematic procedure of help in problem solving. (Gill and Johnson 1992 p 4)

In this section I want to set out the justification for adopting this definition of research in this study. The study is rooted in the teacher as researcher tradition as associated with Stenhouse :

Systematic and sustained inquiry, planned and self critical, which is subject to public criticism and to empirical tests where these are appropriate. Where empirical tests are not appropriate, critical discourse will appeal to judgement of evidence - the test, the document, the observation, the record. (Stenhouse 1981 p 18)

Such an approach requires the researcher to set out the philosophic basis for the study and its methodology.

3.1.1 Positivist and Phenomenology

It is important for the researcher to appreciate that positivism and phenomenology are a collection of points that have come to be associated with either the positivist or phenomenologist schools of philosophy. Within each of the respective schools there are numerous sub divisions. What I have set out to do is to explain my choice of terms and reasons for generally favouring the phenomenologist approach in this study.

Until eight years ago I saw research as being based in the positivist approach This was no doubt due to the deep rooted views I had held for years viewing research in the traditional deductive manner of people such as Bacon who felt that there was no real knowledge other than that based on observed facts. My journey towards becoming an advocate of the interpretive / phenomenology approach is charted below.

My initial view of research was based on the fact that if we planted seeds in the garden then at some particular time in the future flowers would grow from those seeds. Seeds planted in April would become flowers in July. This was in accord with nature and could be seen and tested. I would be aware of what happened and would not be over concerned with why it happened. My whole approach and I now recognise, belief in research, was based on the view of research being to do with measurement and testing of statistical data. If it was incapable of proof positive then my belief was that it was not true research.

I discovered that the phenomenologist would tell me that "mental construct" is one form of a variety of approaches that make up phenomenology. The phenomenologist is interested in why things occur rather than what occurs. I came to appreciate and to accept that the traditional forms of research could not answer the questions that now were of interest to me.

The beginning of my journey through the philosophies of research has been stated. The journey to becoming a believer in phenomenology was far rougher than the acknowledgement of conversion implies. It takes time for those who felt that research was only research if it was proved, in the traditional manner, to understand and relate to what was, to me, a new approach.

The more I read and experimented with the concept of phenomenology the more I became convinced of its value. I found two things helpful in this respect :

1. Reading widely on the subject matter, especially books on research philosophy and design.

2 Taking examples from the various research texts and constructing   similar examples from my own experiences.

I became convinced that the words of Cohen and Manion were appropriate to this study :

Where positivism is less successful, however is in its application to the study of human behaviour where phenomena contrast strikingly with the order and regulation of the natural world. (Cohen and Manion 1989 p 12)

I soon found that there were explanations - the "why's" that could only be really explained by adopting a phenomenological approach. Also, I found that the new philosophy and its variety of techniques, including reflection, allowed me to understand certain forms of research, for the simple reason I was applying a personal construct (interpretation) to that data.

Phenomenology relies on using subjective values in an objective manner. This gives the approach credibility as a serious research method. The approach of this new philosophy was to allow researchers to appreciate the different constructions and meaning people put on their experiences. The view is based on the fact that human beings are all different, we think differently, we see the same phenomena in a different manner. What we need to do is to explain our views in an objective manner that requires us to state our method of investigation and to subject our findings to critical rigour and comment. The phenomenologist attempts to be objective in selection and presentation of subjective views.

The strengths of the positivist tradition are the weaknesses of interpretive research and vice versa :

The positivist approach, by ignoring how educational problems are pre-interpreted, effectively ignores their educational character. On the other hand the interpretive approach, by insulating the educationalist from the direct criticism, has effectively eliminated their problematical character. (Carr and Kemmis 1986 p 215)

3.1.2 Action Research

This study adopts an action research approach. It is important to set out what action research means to me and its context in this study.

"Action research consists of a family of methodologies which pursue outcomes of both action (change) and research (understanding). It          uses a process which alternates between action and systematic reflection."

To this might be added

It is usually, though not universally, collaborative and qualitative. It includes, among many others, such varieties as participative action research, emancipatory action research, action science, and soft systems methodology." (Source Bob Dick)

In the words of Kemmis and McTaggart (1981 pp 5 - 6) action research is a "way of working which links theory and practice into a whole" offering improvement through reflection and action. In this instant study there is continued reflection in the whole study as well as reflection on the action - the case studies described in the analysis section. Others are more philosophic and see action research as 'pursuit of truth through contemplation' (Elliott 1988p 32)

In recent years numerous approaches have developed in action research methodologies. Most are variations of the cyclical approach to action research and are usually appropriate for the particular piece of research. One of my reasons for adopting action research as an umbrella of methodologies is that each cycle adds clarity to the overall study. The classic cycle is plan, act, observe and reflect. Others such as Elliott (1981) suggest a more complex cycle :

        Initial Idea
        Reconnaissance (Fact finding and analysis)
        Planning of action steps
        Monitoring of implementation
        Further reconnaissance
        Revise generalise 

The researcher should follow some accepted outline, whether it be the classic plan, act, observe and reflect which has such a close link to Kolb's learning cycle. Some researchers such as McKen (1996) questioned the validity of the traditional cycle which started with plan and used their own cycle of question, listen, think and change. All this suggests that the researcher should adopt an action research approach appropriate to the study taking place. This view is supported by the considerable evidence that shows the untidy nature of research and that it does not fit neatly into predetermined cycles. Pettigrew (1985) described research as "muddling through" whilst Bryman (1988) tells of the "quirkiness and messiness of research".

Whilst cycles used in action research frequently follow a guideline such as Elliott (1981) there is a widespread use of personalising of the action research cycle as seen in the work of Nunan

1. Problem/puzzle

2. Preliminary

3. Hypothesis

4 Plan

5. Document

6. Reporting (Nunan 1993 pp 41 - 42)

What is especially interesting in this cycle is the propositional nature of including hypothesis as part of the cycle and the introduction of planning at a relatively late stage. However, what is important is the fact the researcher articulates the cycle adopted and the reasons for that choice.

Whitehead is one of the leading objectors to the propositional approach and sets out to develop "a new form of work place based educational knowledge" (Whitehead 1993 p 2) where the teacher can ask questions such as "How do I improve my practice?". For Whitehead this is the basis for his living educational theory. Such an approach is grounded in practice. In this research I want to discover how to improve my practice, to subject it to. I also accept the view of Lomax that :

'In publishing this account of his educational development through action research (thesis), Jack has opened it up to the criticism of others (antithesis) in order to move his understanding forward (synthesis). This is what I mean by dialectic (Whitehead and Lomax, 1987:180-181)

3.1.3 What action research means to me

I see action research as a process by which we can develop understanding of our practice as teachers and bring about change to that practice. Like Smyth speaking of reflective teaching, I need to be concerned with four processes; describing, informing, confronting, reconstructing. (Smyth, 1991 p 106). This process incorporates both research (understanding) and action (change) and involves the developing and understanding of the process of reflection on our practice. However, as we have seen in the literature review reflection needs to be of critical nature. When we review our understanding and action we prepare for the planning of the next cycle of events.

Action research allow us to learn about our practice from the conduct of that practice. This learning from our daily work is further fuelled by our constant returning to the knowledge in literature, be it theory or examples from the practice of others.

Action research for me is a methodology that involves a variety of research methods, both qualitative and quantitative, but mainly qualitative. Indeed, this form of triangulation is essential for a successful action research. This process involves a number of cycles of research and action as well as a large number of spin off's within each cycle.

Sensitivity and responsiveness are requirements of the action researcher. These personal attributes permit the researcher to utilise the cyclical nature of the process in order to constantly develop a better understanding and clarity of the subject matter.

Action research is not normally a tidy process. This is because we are constantly learning and adjusting our methodology of research. A consequence of this is that we can use the process to learn about ourselves and our practice and to accept that self criticism is in itself a learning process.

3.1.4 The Action Research cycle

In this study the basic action research cycles were :

Cycle 1

Planning

Appreciate problem

Plan basic approach

Examine literature on theory of critical thinking

Consider how critical thinking can be introduced into curriculum

Action

Consulting literature led to recognition that amongst other things my teaching approach ought to that of making learning possible, rather than being a distributor of knowledge.

Prepare what amounted to a pilot scheme for introducing critical thinking into my curriculum

Ensure relatability of study material

Open discussion with students. : asking them their views

Reflection

Return to literature

Cycle 2

Planning

Further explore critical thinking in various disciplines

To develop case studies for personnel and law students

Action

Initial write up of case studies

Reflection

Return to literature

Cycle 3

Planning

Further review of literature and sources of practice

Need to develop own material

Action

Further review of literature and sources of practice

Develop own material that incorporates critical thinking

In all of these cycles what was as important as the cycles themselves were the spirals of inquiry that spun out from parts of the cycle. These may have been references to literature, new leads, some of which were developed, many of which were discarded.

The soundness of action research in education is seen in practitioner justification for research :

Action research has the potential to close the gap between the way I would like to see the world, with my set of values, aims and ideals, and the world of my practice, my classroom and the educational setting of that classroom. Through the dialectic I can move nearer to living out my values and reducing the tension between the two, which casts me in the role of a 'living contradiction' (Gurney 1989 p 26)

The practical value of the research comes from a realism that :

Once embarked upon my study, I realised quickly that research offers "a way of structuring a familiar situation that allows the teacher to explore it in depth, gain new insights, set new goals and achieve new levels of competence and confidence (Rudduck 1985, in Gurney 1989 p 22)

3.1.5 Hermeneutic phenomenology

Phenomenology allows us to tease out the multiple identities and complex relations that characterises the classroom. It involves the discovery of interests, views and motives that is necessary for understanding, but almost impossible to discover using research techniques of the positivist nature. "Hermeneutic phenomenology is both descriptive and interpretive" (van Manen 1990 p. 180)

The process of the hermeneutic phenomenologist is to attempt to

accomplish the impossible: to construct a full interpretive description of some aspect of the lifeworld, and yet to remain aware that life is always more complex than any explication of meaning can reveal" (Van Manen 1990 p. 18).

This study fits into the six research activities which van Manen claims give human science its vigour:

1.turning to a phenomenon which seriously interests us and commits us to the world;

2.investigating experience as we live it rather than as we conceptualize it;

3.reflecting on the essential themes which characterize the    phenomenon;

4.describing the phenomenon through the art of writing and rewriting;

5.maintaining a strong and oriented pedagogical relation to the phenomenon;

6.balancing the research context by considering parts and whole (van Manen 1990 pp. 30 - 31).

3.1.6 Case Study

Hermeneutic phenomenology can be written up in the form of a case study. The approach ensures that the study meets the rigour required of the phenomenologist as well as the rigor and rules requires in case studies.

Whatever our personal construct concerning case studies, they need to satisfy four criteria of rigour :

   Credibility - the study must be believable by those who are competent to judge the subject of the investigation

   Transferability - the study must be able to promote the exchange of experience from one practitioner to another; lessons must be capable of being learned from the evidence provided

   Dependability - the study must be trustworthy through having gathered evidence by reliable procedures

   Confirmability - the study must be capable of being scrutinized for absence of bias by making its evidence and methods of analysis accessible. (Bell 1985 p 181)

Yin writes that the case study can be exploratory, descriptive or explanative. Each of these forms of case study can be single or multiple studies (Yin 1993 p 5) Yin stresses the need for the case study to have the rigour of any other research study. As a consequence of this the case study design is important. For Yin this must specify the conditions for

   (a) designing an investigation

   (b) collecting the pertinent data

   (c) analysing the data

   (d) reporting the findings (Yin 1993 p 33)

One problem with the case study is determining if it is a case study or ethnography. For Yin the case study is characterised by seeking to define specific questions of study ahead of time and to carry out fieldwork in a targeted manner. Yin (1993 p 46) also sees the case study as following the logical positivism approach. However, Yin does concede that many researchers such as Lincoln and Gubba (1985) believe that cases studies can also be done where "an investigators intuition and data have prevailed". (Yin 1993 p 47) In this present study the case study method follows the investigators intuition and data. Having adopted the Lincoln and Gubba approach to case study I formulated a set of rules designed to contain the integrity of the case studies. These were :

1 Accepting and recording any personally discomforting views of my teaching approach and for this to be available for all to see, including the subject students.

2 Seeing the dissonance resulting from personally discomforting views of my teaching as learning opportunities where I may examine and reconstruct my professional practice.

3 Being mindful of the ethical issues in conducting a study involving students.

4 Ensuring a continuous interrogation of my material and commentary and to constantly refer to the literature for further development of my understanding of the issues involved.

5 Recording what teaching approaches were adopted to help resolve the problem, along with sufficient commentary for other practitioners to be able to replicate or to relate to.

3.1.6 Triangulation

Hitchcock and Hughes see triangulation as a :

major way in which the teacher researcher might attempt to check or validate the interview materials is to go back to the respondents with the complete transcript or a summary of the main themes and emerging categories. (Hitchcock and Hughes 1991 p 106)

More traditionally triangulation suggests verification of data and information through use of alternative research methods. Hofstede (1980) in writing up positivist research was forced to rely on interpretive means of analysis to explain his findings. Denzin describes triangulation as "the combination of methodologies in the study of the same phenomenon." (Denzin 1970 p 297)

Triangulation can also come from sources Jankowicz describes as :

Some of it will be gossip, some will be storytelling and some will involve conversations : all of it is valuable, often in a rather vague and unspecified way, in providing you with background about the personalities, procedures, culture and values of your organization. (Jankowicz 1991 p 179)

In this study triangulation has played a major role in the validating of both the knowledge in literature; the accounts of practice development of critical thinking; and my own developing practice.

3.2 Reality of the Process of Research

I soon discovered that research is not an ordered process. My initial experiences were as described by Pettigrew 'characterised in the language of muddling through,, and political process than a thoughtful, goal-directed activity' (Pettigrew 1985 p 222).

It was only after much thought, trial and error, and constant return to the knowledge in literature and the practical data that the study focus became clear. This period of 'muddling through' has itself been rewarding as it has produced insight and understanding in many aspects of my professional practice. I was able to reflect and, hopefully, critically reflect on a wide range of areas, areas that might not have been considered if the research matter had been clearly defined from the start of the study.

Anderson offers some comfort to the researcher who may feel dejected with a piece of research carried out under a quasi model - the muddling through model. Anderson gives a good example of the value of such an approach :

One should not assume by the foregoing that research is a merely static and deductive process. On the contrary, good research is characterized by an evolving dynamic such that the research problems and questions may be articulated fully when the study is far advanced. The ongoing process of collecting and analyzing data, endless discussions with others who bring new perspectives to bear and limitless personal thought and deduction may transform a routine problem into something new and different. (Anderson 1990 p 30)

What I soon experienced was in the words of Lincoln and Gubba (1985) the phenomena of the research beginning to unfold, cascade, roll and emerge. The journey of discovery was becoming a reality. To that end I had some idea of where I was going, of the methods that might (or might not) get me to my destination. What I appreciated in this journey of discovery was the accuracy of Becker who informs us that :

As every researcher knows there is more to doing research than is dreamt in philosophies of science, and texts in methodology offer answers only to a fraction of the problems one encounters. The best laid research plan runs up against unforeseen contingencies in the collection and analysis of data; the data one collects may prove to have little to do with the hypothesis one sets out to test; unexpected findings inspire new ideas. No matter how carefully one plans in advance, research is designed in the course of its execution. The finished monograph is the result of hundreds of decisions, large and small, made while the research is under way and our standard texts do not give us procedures and techniques for making those decisions. (Becker 1965 pp 602-603)

What was significant in the practical study was the amount of thought the students had put into their answers to the various questionnaires. It was a humbling experience reading and discovering information that nullified many previously held views on student needs and expectations. The interpretive / action researcher should not be dismayed by the words of Becker. The nature of the research lies in the perceptions and biases not only of the researcher but of the students who have become participants, able to reflect and to be self critical of their actions. The researcher needs to be aware of the failings of the perception process and well documented problems in perception such as the 'halo effect' and 'stereotyping".

3.3 Bias in interpretive research and how to deal with it.

Bias in any form of interpretive / action research is inevitable. We are looking at personal constructs and realise that these can and do vary from one person to the other. The researcher must use methodology to minimise bias :

...social scientists look for biases and pitfalls in the processes used to support and validate hypotheses and submit their scrutiny to other scientists who attempt to find biases that were overlooked. The casual observer or ordinary knower often gathers evidence in support of hypotheses without being aware of or worried about the biases inherent in the process (Kidder and Judd 1986 p 18)

The difficulty, and paradoxically the strengths, of being an objective researcher within the action / interpretive research paradigms are clearly stated by Ely :

The investigator wants to understand the minds and hearts of the research participants in as total and unadulterated a way as possible. To do so s/he must attempt to recognize personal prejudices, stereotypes, myths, assumptions, and other thoughts and feelings that may cloud or distort the perception of other people's experiences. I do not believe that we lose subjectivity, for human perception is by nature and definition subjective. I do believe that by recognizing and acknowledging our own myths and prejudices, we can more effectively put them in their place. I also believe that greater self-knowledge can help us separate our thoughts and feelings from those of our research participants, to be less judgmental, and to appreciate experiences that deviate greatly from our own. Confronting oneself and one's biases was one of the most difficult and thought provoking aspects of being a qualitative researcher for many students. (Ely 1991 p 122)

The last sentence is especially relevant in this study. I was impressed by the advice given by Payne and Cuff who suggest a strategy that might help eliminate bias, myths, shallow values etc. :

Whilst talking of classroom talk and interaction we (teachers) must suspend our own commonsense assumptions about classrooms and teaching. By making familiar strange we can get close to the subject matter. (Payne and Cuff 1982 p 8)

The difficulty in a study such as this is that it is so easy for the researcher to get too close to the subject matter. To this end Marshall and Rossman reminded me that the researcher must provide controls for bias in interpretation. Such controls include the following :

_ a research partner or person who plays "devil's advocate" and critically questions the researcher's analyses

   a constant search for negative instances

_ checking and rechecking the data and purposeful testing of possible rival hypotheses

  practising value-free note taking. including taking two sets of notes one value-free, the other to exercise creativity upon

_ devising tests to check analyses and applying the tests to the data, asking questions of the data

  following the guidance of previous researchers to control for data quality. (Marshall and Rossman 1989 p 147)           

The most frequent technique used in this study was the constant checking and rechecking of the data and asking questions of the data. In addition I was constantly aware of the risk of personal bias. This led to the adopting of a critical questioning of the data and its internal and external validity.

3.4 "How do I improve my practice?" By testing my epistemology

As part of my testing for rigour in the research and whether the work has an educational research value, I kept in mind five guidelines for contributing to an epistemology of practice :

1. If you can provide a validated account of how you have brought quality to education through your action research, you have contributed to the creation of `living theory'.

Comment : I believe that this study brings some improved quality to my educational practice and that the ongoing study will further enhance that practice.

2. If you can describe and explain your practice in bringing quality to education in relation to your own educational values you have begun to develop the explanatory principles for understanding the grounds of your own professional knowledge.

Comment : The accounts contained in the case studies and the theoretical underpinning knowledge contained in the research is evidence of the developing understanding of my professional knowledge

3. If you are researching your action in endeavouring to bring quality to education you have started the disciplined process towards generating knowledge about your practice.

Comment : The study is evidence of the collection of generating knowledge of my practice.

4. If you are theorising the grounds of your own knowledge, you are developing your epistemology of your personal practice

Comment : The epistemology is grounded in practice and the interpretation of that practice

5. If you are making your personal epistemologies of your own practices public you are contributing to an educational epistemology of practice.

Comment : Studies such as this are personal epistemologies of my practice.

(Lomax, Whitehead and Evans 1996 pp 11 - 17)


 4 Analysis

Use of critical thinking in diverse disciplines

Having established an understanding of the theoretical aspects of critical thinking, curriculum and learning theory, reflection and motivation I was in a position to make a closer examination of critical thinking as taught in a number of institutions and in a range of subjects.

4.1.1 University of Massachusetts at Boston

To test my own views on the use of critical thinking for subjects I teach, I obtained copies of abstracts of MA degrees that have been awarded at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. This university is renowned for its work on critical thinking in teaching. In research terminology I was using a form of literature review and triangulation (checking my assumptions through a number of different sources of information)

The Boston research showed a range of school type subjects such as Geography, English Literature (Morse 1990, Murray 1992) and Mathematics (Nelson 1992) as examples of subjects where development of students was sought through critical thinking. I was able to see the theory of writers examined in the literature section applied in practice.

In a study of meteorology (Cotter 1992) critical thinking skills such as decision making, accuracy of observation, determining reliability of sources and comparing and contrasting of information were seen to develop student performance. Students studying literature (Hayes 1990) used dialogue and a critical journal to make (more informed) judgements about their reading. In a mathematics course the teacher had prepared a course of lessons on critical thinking in mathematics. In the thesis the researcher looked at three lesson topics comparison and contrast, classification and finding reasons, and uncovering assumptions. (La Croix 1991) What I found interesting was the manner in which these three critical thinking techniques were approached in the classroom. The teacher would introduce the topic with a general application relating to student life and when the concept was understood relate it to mathematics.

In an English Literature course students were introduced to diverse activities such as :

_ reading critical articles on themes relating to Hamlet

_ use of dialectical notebooks

_ explicit investigation into the nature of problem solving

_ using emphatic role playing to bring a play to life

_ use of writing think sheets (Morse 1990)

Morse felt that the use of critical thinking could be evaluated in terms of

_       student problem solving
_             student attitude toward both learning and writing
_             the quality of student writing
_             students' metacognitive understanding of both problem solving and writing
_             the quality of student - teacher interaction.

Critical thinking was introduced into a social studies course relating to the development of textile mills in Massachusetts in the 1880s. In this instance the teacher built into lesson design thinking skills such as determination of the accuracy of information, the reliability of sources, casual explanation, prediction and problem solving (Adreani 1990) An example of the use of critical thinking in an American History course is in Sullivan (1990) Here the teacher researcher used recognition and analysis of stereotypes, analysis of word meaning and connotation, evaluation of cause and effect relationships and evaluation of sources.

Donovan (1989) stresses the need for the teacher to prepare the class for the critical thinking process. In her abstract Donovan states that this involves the creation of an appropriate classroom climate in which students developed the craft of journal writing, laboratory reports and research papers. This process benefited says Donovan through peer editing. Through reflective writing students practised higher order thinking skills whilst at the same time further developing their vocational ninth grade scientific skills.

A rather novel approach was adopted by Van Rensselaer (1991) who claimed that critical skills could be developed through the analysis of advertisements. Because advertisements are complex and value laden Van Rensselaer believed that their presentation of appearance as reality, use of symbols and ability to transfer values to products was a rich source for students to develop critical thinking.

Techniques for teaching critical thinking in mathematics were examined by Nelson who saw the teaching approach being based on learning principles that :

_       knowledge is constructed
_             all students can deal with complex ideas
_             conceptual learning is effective
_             prior knowledge influences learning
_             learning is a social act
_             change in cognitive structure is the goal of teaching
_             students must be carefully engaged to learn

Nelson was very much aware of the teacher student interaction and the need to create an environment, through expanding their repertoire of instructional methods to enable students to acquire the disposition to learn. (Nelson B D 1990 abstract)

In a similar manner to Nelson, Ryan concentrate her research on the role of the teacher in developing thinking skills. Amongst the techniques suggested by Ryan were :

_ determine what your students want to be able to do better

_ note places where this activity occurs in a particular course

_ identify the key thinking skill involved in the activity

_ describe the thinking skill

_ plan a sequence of skill teaching lessons

_ write the lessons using the appropriate skill teaching strategies

_ determine your assessment strategy and write the necessary evaluation instructions

_ teach the thinking skill

_ repeat the process for other important thinking skills

_ create a classroom atmosphere that fosters positive attitudes about thinking and its teaching (Ryan 1994 Abstract)

4.1.1.1 Commentary on Boston studies

The Boston studies demonstrate the range of philosophies and approaches that can be applied to critical thinking in the classroom. The studies demonstrate that the innovative teacher can develop critical thinking in every subject. Aspects of the literature on critical thinking, curriculum theory, reflection and motivation are seen in their application to the classroom. What becomes clear is the need for a learning cycle approach to the introduction of critical thinking into courses. (Kolb 1984). In educational practice this can be the action research cycle such as that of (Elliott 1981 p 3) where we start with an idea, then engage in the reconnaissance (fact finding and analysis) phase, this being followed by the planning of action stage. The implementation needs to be monitored as the process of information which will include further reconnaissance, will inform our revision of our action the outcome of which takes us into a second cycle developing and testing our ideas. This is what Stenhouse meant when referring to the fine tuning of the curriculum being "...like the recipe for a dish, is first imagined as a possibility, then as the subject of experiment...Similarly, a curriculum should be grounded in practice. It is an attempt so to describe the work observed in classrooms" (Stenhouse 1975 pp 4-5)

We have seen substantial evidence that the teacher needs to develop the curriculum according to student needs. This in turn requires the developing of an understanding of the construction of student needs and the values that underpin such needs. What needs to be resisted is the teacher imposing what she feels is what the student wants. This is especially true if student learning styles are accepted as a developer of learning. The works of Ryan and Nelson at Boston stress the need to develop critical thinking courses in the knowledge of student needs and with innovative approaches to the form of teaching. Such information can only come from discovering student needs, knowing about curriculum theory and testing and critically evaluating one's practice. Mistakes will be made but should be accepted as reasons, not for abandoning the venture, but for further testing and developing practice.

4.1.2 E mail Sources

One of the special interest groups on the Internet that looks at practitioner (and student) issues on critical thinking is the think-prof@SONOMA.EDU list

Some of these contributions have been of value to my own practice as they provide examples of how critical thinking skills have been infused into the curriculum.

One contribution to the list came from Dianne Fallon This teacher provides illuminating insight into her practice and the issues that inform the development of that practice.

Dianne Fallon<ydfallon@yctc.net> (by way of CCT, moderator)

To: think-prof@SONOMA.EDU

Subject: Critical thinking and the internet

Date: Wed, 03 Sep 1997 13:53:41 -0700

I am new to the list and find the discussion quite stimulating. This semester I am piloting a new course called "Critical Thinking via the Internet" and I'm curious to know if anyone else is working with this approach.

I designed this course because I was dissatisfied with many of the materials and texts out there for Critical Thinking -- they seemed both too abstract for my "hands-on" population and also too focused on linear argument. I also found that students do not think critically *at all* about what they gather on the 'net -- so I am using the internet as a tool for developing critical thinking.

Basically we will talk about some traditional critical thinking topics -- identifying aspects of arguments -- and then surf the net to carry out research projects. Students will have to evaluate internet resources and screen lots of material. For example, for one project, students will research a controversial subject as a team (for example. hate groups) and develop an annotated bibliography of 25 sources. In another project, they will be required to identify at least 25 sources for a topic and then select 5-6 as most valuable for use in a final research paper.

We will also read and evaluate texts (Silicon Snake Oil) and articles to critically review hot internet issues such as privacy and censorship .

I work in a technical college with mostly older working class students. Some are eager to think, others want the answers -- the run the gamut. But I think the key in getting students to develop their critical thinking skills is to involve them in issues close to home -- and that varies depending on each group of students.

Dianne Fallon

Department Chair for English/Humanities

York County Technical College

Wells, ME 04090

207-646-9282

e-mail: ydfallon@yctc.net

Reasons for teachers failing to teach critical thinking brought replies from Diane Fallon and William Hayes on 10 September 1997

I'll add my own: many teachers teach the way they were taught.

...Many teachers view teaching as a mainly transmitting knowledge / information. Yes, this is partly what teaching is about but how many of us remember the bits and pieces of information transmitted to us in our school days? The classes I most remember were those in which I had to apply myself and my own thinking -- a high school class in which we designed our own utopias, another in which we researched and did presentations on the Impressionists, a French class in which we wrote and presented skits. I went to a public high school in a working class/middle class city suburb.

Few of my college classes, sad to say, were memorable. (And I went to a high-priced selective liberal arts college). In the two or three that stood out, the teacher organized the class to generate thinking instead of to transmit knowledge about literature. In most classes, we seldom did projects/presentations that encouraged us to stretch. I spent a lot of time staring out the window, bored, and graduated summa cum laude. Instead of being encouraged to investigate, we were told to listen and take notes.

While I acknowledge that there is much value in time spent listening to the teacher/scholar who thoroughly knows her/his subject, I think such presentations have more impact when they are a rare event in the classroom.

Dianne Fallon

e-mail: ydfallon@yctc.net

William Hayes also replied 10th September 1997

From experience of teaching workshops for fellow teachers who are trying to get started teaching in the thinking mode, the most common reason I have heard is "we were not taught this way, therefore, we do not know how to teach thinking." This ties quite strongly into the old saying that we will teach as we were taught. There is a distinct fear of failure in trying to do something which you have not seen modelled. Also, unfortunately, there is a distinct fear of success. What if it works and 1) you are expected to be this successful all the time, and/or 2) you are the target of jealousy from other teachers who have not taken the risk (a very important fear in today's teaching environment).

Also, most teachers don't understand the difference between teaching students to think and just expecting them to think well without specific instruction or direction as to how to do it.

William A. Hayes

Dept of Biology, Delta State University

Cleveland MS 38733

http://okra.deltast.edu/~bhayes

Robert Irish provided an example of teacher development of critical thinking :

In an architecture class, where we are trying to get first-year students to evaluate the criteria by which they already judge architecture, we have the students write a description of a space that is significant to them, and then explain why it is significant. Then in a group exercise, they share their space we have them extrapolate the criteria by which they have determined significance. Typically, students write about cottages and such and then the criteria are things like peacefulness, or integration with nature. The final stage is that we have them evaluate another site using the same criteria. The assignment works well to introduce students to their own latent critical skills.

Robert Irish (irish@ecf.toronto.ca) to Think-Prof@sonoma.edu 26 September 1997

Joe Kuntz gave this example :

One technique that has worked well for me is using articles from newspapers. For example, yesterday the lesson was on inductive reasoning and the related fallacies. After outlining and exemplifying the method, I handed out an article from the newspaper and had the students critique it for fallacies. The advantage of newspaper, or magazine articles, is that you can pick articles in the student's major. Yesterday, the article was on computers, and the students in the class are all CIS majors. For homework,

I have had them find articles and critique them.

JKuntz@compuserve.com to Think-Prof@sonoma.edu 26 September 1997

Linda Cornover provided examples from nursing :

I would love to here some success stories. Here is a small example from my experience last year-- I was teaching the first nursing course in a BSN program. Students were just being introduced to nursing history, the profession, roles, etc. we also were using a critical thinking in nursing text. One day I was talking about the caring component of nursing (not the specifics of technology). Student were not "getting it" so I said lets talk about a patient who has a specific condition and you tell me what you would do as a nurse for that person. This led to a great discussion about what caring means, the fact that they didn't know what kind of symptoms the person would have and resulted in the class sending groups out to the library to fact finding about the condition, the symptoms expected, common nursing interventions, etc. The class then developed a plan for nursing care for this individual(which in my opinion was excellent) and they had not ever heard of nursing process and care planning yet!

The course evaluations indicated that most of the students felt they learned a lot from this--not just the specific situation but they learned how to think through a complex problem, work as a team, and find resources.

lconover@sjcme.edu to Think-Prof@ssonoma.edu 26 September 1997

Bob Boyd showed how to make effective use of the students own discipline to develop critical thinking competence :

Because of my background, I approach CT from the angle of informal logic. In order to get students to "think out of the box" I require assignments that make the student apply what is taught in class to their own major fields of interest. For example, a student who is interested in accounting. He/she must identify arguments contained in an article from a professional journal in accounting. This is after we have done the "textbook" examples of identifying arguments. After learning how to evaluate inductive reasoning, that student will evaluate the inductive reasoning that appears in that article. This will require research from which the student formulates his/her own position on the issue discussed in the article. Once we have finished deduction, the student will then write a paper, which is deductive in formate, that presents their own position.

Bob Boyd Fresno City College bb045@sufresno.edu to Think-Prof@ssonoma.edu 26 September 1997

Chris Storer made the following contribution on the matter of measuring the development of critical thinking.

I have thought a great deal about measuring student success and weakness, as I suspect many have. I "measure" my student's outcomes against four fundamental standards of critical thought.

I "measure" how their written work exemplifies Clarity, Completeness, Coherence and Charity. The "measure" is in quotes because what I actually give feedback on and grade is the presence of counter examples to these standards in their work. That is, vagueness, ambiguity, and linguistic awkwardness are cases of a lacking but needed clarity; superficiality and narrowness are examples of a lack of needed completeness; irrelevance, fallacy and self-contradiction are examples of a lack of needed coherence; and bias, prejudice, closed mindedness, dogmatism, subjectivity, apathy, and immorality are examples of a lack of needed charity. When impossible to attain ideals are used as standards, outcomes must be measured by how they fall short rather than by what they attain. I believe that the four standards are comprehensive, and the first level analysis I give here is also comprehensive for the first three (of course there are further useful subdivisions at a lower level of analysis), but I am not satisfied with the mere partial listing of outcomes counter-productive to Charity. They overlap, and I am sure, leave out other outcomes counter-productive to the standard (principle) of Charity.

I would appreciate others thoughts in reaction to this.

cms2425@tiptoe.fhda.edu to Think-Prof@ssonoma.edu 23 September 1997

Another approach to developing critical thinking skills in nursing came from Mary.Vandenbosch :

I recently taught a graduate level class on "Professional Medical Ethics" to nurses. It took several classes for them to incorporate the various philosophical positions that they had not been exposed to in the past, but after that there was no stopping them. There assignments included picking topics re: ethical dilemmas that were of interest to them and presenting different philosophical perspectives and then concluding with their own. I brought recent medical / ethical cases to class for them to discuss/debate and then gave them the court's rulings. With so much in the news in this past year to discuss (cloning, assisted suicide, etc., etc.,). My evaluations were excellent. The students asked if that class could be longer( in place of another that they thought should be shortened). I thought it was a wonderful experience. The students also challenged me to rethink some of my previous positions.

mary.vandenbosch@cis.state.mis.edu to Think-Prof@sonoma.edu 16 September 1997

B Hooper wondered if students were adequately prepared for the task of becoming critical thinkers :

In response to some of the comments relative to student resistance, etc., I think we should put critical thinking objectives in the syllabi and what students do to achieve the objectives. This way the students know up front what the objectives are and what they must do in the course. Too often we do not communicate what students are to do. Our objectives are all teacher objectives - what we plan to do. Then when students do not somehow guess what our objectives are, we wonder why and usually blame the students - they don't want to think, they are lazy, etc. Try re-thinking how we do syllabi and see if that helps.

This would also relate to the question of the student as customer. They will be satisfied "customers" when they know what and how is expected of them.

Bhooper@sbuniv.edu to Think-Prof@sonoma.edu 16 September 1997

4.1.3 Teaching Law and Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is used in the teaching of law at the University of West of England (UWE). Maughan a leading proponent of reflective practice in legal education describes how the developing of awareness of discrepant reasoning. This is developed through the simple means of providing problems where such large discrepancies occur and are easily spotted by the student :

This (obvious discrepancy) should enable each individual to understand how the processes of discrepant reasoning work, and to this extent it is usually successful. However, it does not necessarily mean that in future situations they will be able to recognise and articulate their own discrepancies. (Maughan 1996 p 10)

Maughan also provides further helpful views on feedback in the process of developing thinking skills :

Furthermore, the feedback process should be made as painless as possible. Confronting and challenging deeply held values and beliefs can be disturbing, even threatening, and all the more so if it is done in public. (Maughan 1996 p 10)

This establishing and refining of personal theories of students is further assisted by the keeping a journal or learning log where deeply held views and thoughts of the student could be confidentially recorded. An example is provided by Maughan of an instance where a student "may need to review a performance on video a number of times before she gets a clue as to what led her to frame a problem in a particular way" The link with reflective practice is seen in the recorded experience providing a "blueprint of this lengthy reflective process on which to base future action".

This process of developing thinking abilities through reflective practice has been used for 7 years at UWE. Interestingly, Maughan tells us that the tutors at UWE have recently introduced learning theories to students early on in their course, in order that students can begin to link the learning cycle approach of Kolb and the reflective practitioner theory of Schon. The outcomes are that:

They begin to develop their individual approaches to, framing and solving complex problems. They feel more confident when placed in open-ended, unpredictable situations. (Maughan 1996 p 10)

The use of unpredictable situations (dissonance) is favoured by constructivists as a means of providing motivation to resolve problems.

4.1.4 Teaching Sociology and Critical Thinking

Russell Crescimanno a teacher of Sociology set out an approach to persuading students to adopt a deeper form of learning. Crescimanno's strategy was to engage the students in thinking of sociology as part of a larger context. To achieve this students are asked to regard sociology in the form of a question "What is it like to be Human" (Crescimanno 1991 p 12)

In order to facilitate development and thinking Crescimanno places much emphasis on class participation and effectively sets out the means by which a teacher can be an effective chairman, seeking out the views of those who are reluctant to speak as well as those who will speak at any opportunity.

The form of questioning or as Crescimanno calls it "Depth Dimension Questions"

Used show clearly the need for teacher disposition to be positive in the development of student thinking. Crescimanno sets out three main types of question. First "What" which is content based. From there we progress to "So What" which seeks the significance and consequences of the content, and thirdly, "So Now What" which is the applying of theory to practice. This final type of question requires us to reflect upon and become aware of hypothetical and actual choice open to us. (Crescimanno 1991 pp 13 - 14)

Students need to record their acquired information and evaluate their knowledge. Crescimanno approaches this through the journal. The journal has four categories. Class notes, which should be in outline form rather than fragmented notes. The second section is termed "I'm knowing" whereby students articulate their learning. The next section is called "Realisations" which is learning applied to practice whilst the last section is called "Encounters" and gives accounts of how the student dealt with classroom exercises set by Crescimanno.

4.1.5 Critical thinking and other subjects

Kerka (Kerka 1992 p 4) provides a number of examples of critical thinking being applied to vocational courses. In technology education, students were required to design, test, manufacture, and market a product they select. Use is made of creativity, problem solving, and logic to understand the processes of bringing a product to market and the potential social and environmental impact.

Another example is of Agriculture students receive background information on chemical fertilisers and a demonstration by an instructor, extension agent, farmer, or sales representative. Student groups then conduct soil analysis, develop fertiliser application plans, present results, and discuss ethical and soil conservation issues. (Kerka 1992 p 4)

In revising lesson plans to include higher order components, a traditional lesson objective (writing a resume and application letter), activities (discuss characteristics, create resume), and test questions (list categories of information in a resume and application letter) become--in a critical thinking lesson plan--objectives (examine how the importance of categories of information changes over time, evaluate sample resumes and letters), activities (discuss why one would or would not select a hypothetical applicant), and test questions (given two resumes and letters, select a candidate and justify the reasons) (Chalupa 1992 in Kerka 1992 pp 4 - 5).

Miller (1990) transforms a typical lesson on nutrients and nutrient deficiency (list and describe classes of nutrients and symptoms of deficiency, read chapter, observe cases of deficiencies, explain three functions of water in the body) into a higher order thinking lesson involving discussion of how components of a balanced diet are determined, diagnosis of symptoms of nutrient deficiencies in a lab activity, and an open-ended test question. (Kerka 1992 p 5)

The importance of problem solving and critical skills is also seen in the account of an engineering programme where the teacher :

was concerned that there was too much emphasis on technical theory and too little on the application of the type of diagnostic and problem so material to real engineering problems. It was noticeable that in the examination, the students tended to avoid questions requiring the type of diagnostic and problem solving skills which are essential to engineering practice (Cawley 1989 p 84)

What Cawley sets out to do is to move towards the developing of professional skills that use the course content to solve problems and top communicate the solutions.

4.2 Practical application and development of thinking skills

Critical thinking skills are developed through the transmission of teacher experience seen in the motivating and coaching of students to adopt a critical learning approach and in the careful writing of assignments to tease out from the student the ability to think critically. In addition the teacher needs to remember that the student new to critical thinking is probably experiencing dissonance and needs a sympathetic approach in developing the techniques of critical thinking. In order to help students develop skills in resolving this dissonance, Frager (1984) offers a model for conducting critical thinking classes and provides samples of popular issues that promote it: for example, banning smoking in public places, the bias infused in some sports accounts, and historical incidents written from both American and Russian perspectives. (Tama 1989 p 3)

Sternberg suggests that the teacher asks the student to :

Recall who did something, what was done, when it was done, where it was done, or how it was done;

Analyze, compare, evaluate, judge, or assess;

Create, invent, imagine, suppose, or design; and

Use, put into practice, implement, or show use. (Sternberg 1997 p 2) 

4.2.1 Reading and critical thinking

The process of reading a book is used by Paul (1996) to illustrate the critical thinking approach this could entail.

*  What is the purpose for the book?

*  What is the author trying to accomplish?

*  What issues or problems are raised?

*  What data, what experiences, what evidence are given?

*  What concepts are used to organize this data, these experiences?

*  How is the author thinking about the world?

*  Is her thinking justified as far as we can see from our perspective?

*  And how does she justify it from her perspective?

*  How can we enter her perspective to appreciate what she has to say?

   (Paul 1996 pp 4 - 5)

4.2.2 Use of questions

Badger and Thomas offer some guidelines to the teacher who seeks to develop critical thinking through the use of questions There is the need to stress communication through asking "students to explain and to expand on their ideas, both in discussion and in written form." There is also a need for regular evaluation. This allows the teacher to know how the student is developing and at the same time provides feedback and through the management of learning, further motivation. (Badger and Thomas 1992 p 4)

There are different types of questions that can help us develop critical thinking skills. (Font et al 1996 pp 6 - 7) suggest a number of different forms of question that can be adopted by the teacher :

Questions of clarification such as "What is your understanding of the concept of duty of care as a result of cases involving the Hillsborough tragedy?" or How did the Law Lords determine that Tony Bland be allowed to die?"

Questions that probe evidence and reasons include "Why have some of the cases following the Hillsborough tragedy been decided through a philosophical approach called a positivist approach, whilst other cases have followed an interpretist approach?"

This last question can be used to stress the need for the question to be framed in a manner that is appropriate for the students understanding. During the formative part of a law course the questions could take a different approach and ask questions that are more specific in form such as "How does the positivist approach apply to the Law Lords decision in the Tony Bland case?" Another approach could be to ask students to "Analyse philosophical arguments in the Court of Appeal and House of Lords transcripts of the Tony Bland case". These forms of questioning bring out critical thinking skills in that students' :

take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality." (Elder and Paul 1994 pp 34 - 35)

And develop the "ability and tendency to gather, evaluate, and use information effectively". (Beyer, 1985 in Potts 1994 p 1) In addition the student is required to do two things : to explain what they think and how they arrived at the judgement. (Facione et al 1995 pp 4 - 6). All of this requires the teacher to recognize that the student needs to be adequately prepared for the change in teaching expectations. (Tama 1989 pp 2 - 3) This last point is one, which I had to take considerable notice of, in order that student development did not fail through my failure to properly manage the curriculum and change. All of this confirms the need expressed by Patrick 1986 p 4) critical thinking and its development is likely to foster where "strong relationship between an open, supportive, and structured classroom climate, where opinions on issues may be explored and expressed in a free and disciplined manner".

Questions on implications are also of importance. We can ask of the more confident law student a question such as "Why are some lawyers cautious about the implications of the Tony Bland Judgement?"

What is clear is that the form of questioning used in the classroom and in the assignment must be appropriate to the skills which the student possesses or can be reasonably expected to discover, given the existing state of the knowledge of the subject and ability to think critically. Educational management of such activities requires the leader (lecturer) to motive the student and to reinforce the goal of achievement with feedback which is both timely and appropriate. (Greenberg and Baron 1993 pp 121 - 127)

Whilst the form of question is of importance in developing critical thinking, we are reminded by Norris and Phillips (1987) that it is in writing that the student is able to demonstrate "raising alternative interpretations, weeding out interpretations to the extent that available information will allow, and then remaining with multiple possibilities". (Badger and Thomas 1992 p 3) For Norris and Phillips, critical literary thinking is a "complex reasoning process that involves analyzing, synthesizing, reformulating, linking, and generalizing ideas". (Badger and Thomas p 3)

We have seen how critical thinking occurs. The material is grounded in theory, but still leaves a void in the description of how students actually 'do critical thinking'. However, I was able to describe some of my practical classroom experiences during this data collection period, in the form of case studies.

4.3 Case Studies

4.3.1 Case study : HNC 2 year Law Critical thinking question

This case study describes the design and student dealing with a law question that approached the problem from a critical thinking perspective.

The groups involved were two part time Higher National Certificate classes. In one class there were eight students, in another three.

This course has been a leading business studies course that was in marketing terms in the mature decline phase of the product life cycle. One of the concerns of the course team was that the assignments were not teasing out knowledge we believed the students possessed. One of the identified problems was the form of assignment questions put to the students. In a traditional class if students were asked a question such as "What is the duty of care in the Law of Tort?" their initial reaction would be to find a textbook on tort (usually the biggest they could find) and generally copy out the parts they felt appropriate.

This strategy had a number of consequences :

1 The textbook was usually out of date, especially in areas of law such as tort where changes are often frequent.

2 Any learning was shallow and not retained

3 Students were in the habit of submitting a finished product, without tutor student interaction of the developing project.

I decided to adopt an approach where it was stressed to students that I was looking for a deep approach to learning and that I wanted them to develop, in conjunction with myself, an answer that demonstrated their critical thinking faculties. Like Price et al (1994) I was effectively dividing student competencies into two types:

active skills (i.e., writing, speaking, reading, and thinking) and content areas as knowledge bases that provide the active skills material on which to operate and contexts within which to exist. One type of competency      cannot function without the other. (Price et al 1994 p 2)

I wanted students' to enjoy law. I did not want the subject to be seen as an option that was something they had to tolerate in order to obtain their qualification. This required me to make it interesting and to use as many teaching aids and tricks as I could in order to develop and to maintain their interest. I also had to ensure that the students' were given ample opportunity to develop their thinking into concrete written experiences. To this end I needed to move away from traditional simplistic questions that could be answered from a text book and to devise questions that were challenging, and required the student to use their developing skills to construct their answer. I also ensured the students' were fully aware of my objectives for their learning.

The approach to assessing answers as contained in Briggs and Collis's SOLO taxonomy (1982) was explained to the students. The students were shown that the SOLO assessment has five levels

Prestructural said to be the statement of the questions asked

Unistructural where the student presents one piece of relevant information

Multistructural where several pieces of relevant pieces of information are presented

These first three may be regarded as shallow types of learning. The final two levels can be regarded as similar to the deep learning approach.

Relational where relevant information is interrelated and the conclusion is derived from that analysis

Extended Abstract Analysis where the answer not only interrelates the information, but also brings in abstract concepts and theoretical ideas to provide a fuller and more formal explanation.

At this stage the management of the curriculum required me to provide students with up to date notes on developments in the duty of care and to make available to students transcripts from leading cases. This was necessary due to the dating of textbooks on Tort. In order to expect the best from students I had to provide them with the best resources.

A variation of Bloom's taxonomy is useful in helping the teacher devise questions that engage critical thinking.

As teachers we tend to ask questions in the "knowledge" category 80% to 90% of the time. These questions are not bad, but using them all the time is. Try to utilize higher order level of questions. These questions require much more "brain power" and a more extensive and elaborate answer. Below are the six question categories as defined by Bloom.

               KNOWLEDGE

*              remembering;

*              memorizing;

*              recognizing;

*              recalling identification and

*              recall of information

*              Who, what, when, where, how ...?

*              Describe

*              COMPREHENSION

               interpreting;

*              translating from one medium to another;

*              describing in one's own words;

*              organization and selection of facts and ideas

*              Retell...

*              APPLICATION

*              problem solving;

*              applying information to produce some result;

*              use of facts, rules and principles

*              How is...an example of...?

*              How is...related to...?

*              Why is...significant?

*              ANALYSIS

*              subdividing something to show how it is put together;

*              finding the underlying structure of a communication;

*              identifying motives;

*              separation of a whole into component parts

*              What are the parts or features of...?

*              Classify...according to...

*              Outline/diagram...

*              How does...compare/contrast with...?

*              What evidence can you list for...?

*              SYNTHESIS

*              creating a unique, original product that may be in verbal form or may              be a physical object;

*              combination of ideas to form a new whole

*              What would you predict/infer from...?

*              What ideas can you add to...?

*              How would you create/design a new...?

*              What might happen if you combined...?

*              What solutions would you suggest for...?

*              EVALUATION

*              making value decisions about issues;

*              resolving controversies or differences of opinion;

*              development of opinions, judgements or decisions

*              Do you agree...?

*              What do you think about...?

*              What is the most important...?

*              Place the following in order of priority...

*              How would you decide about...?

*              What criteria would you use to assess...?

               (Source :Jerry Cerny, jerry@hcc.hawaii.edu)

Tribe believes that law schools should provide for all six levels of (Bloom's Taxonomy) cognitive learning within the curriculum :

   i) to know the law

   ii) to comprehend it

   iii) to apply it to particular fact situations

   iv) to break it down into component parts

   v) to reorganise it and apply creatively to serve clients' interests

   vi) to evaluate the strength of its authority and its probable impact upon clients (Tribe 1996 p 11)

I was now in the position to design an assignment that would require critical thinking skills of the students. The basic question was

      The law of torts provides for actions to be brought in negligence. As  you are aware it is far more difficult to bring an action in tort than is first imagined. This is especially so in cases of negligence. 
      In negligence we have a particular problem in showing that a duty of care exists. The difficulties come partly from the fact that words in   everyday use are to be found in determining whether a duty of care exists or not. Such words include neighbour, foreseeability, proximity, policy and reasonableness.
      What I want you to do is to write a short paper to a friend who knows  no law, explaining what these words mean in the law of tort.

Initial reaction was that the assignment would take a considerable amount of time and that perhaps the usual form of assignment would be preferable. I told the students that they would enjoy the assignment once they had overcome the dissonance of the new approach. I also stressed the need for ongoing discussion with myself as to the development of the assignment. The initial student reaction was one of confusion. How do I go about the exercise. The freedom the develop their own answer and style they found frightening. It was a quantum leap from the safe and steady 'do it this way' approach. There were even times when I was tempted to give a traditional type assignment in place of the critical thinking exercise. The students consulted me far more than they did for a standard assignment. I was able to use the concepts of scaffolding and fading as a means of encouraging creative and relational thinking. The use of simple motivating factors such as reassurance, encouragement, and a policy of 'no criticism unless accompanied by positive advice and reinforcement' positive eventually proved to be rewarding.

The results were surprising. Most of the students provided competent answers, some exceptional answers. After some initial doubt of their competence, three of the students settled into the approach and as well as providing excellent answers, thoroughly enjoyed the assignment and showed evidence of the ability to engage in relational, holistic thinking. In addition, all students saw the approach as being potentially of value to their workplace. Student comments included "We really had to think about the question, and surprised ourselves with the quality of the answer and the satisfaction the approach provided." "I have achieved" "I now really understand the background to discussions on duty of care which take place on television" and "I'm looking forward to the next assignment with this approach".

In this case study I was attempting to be aware of the importance of student disposition and learning styles in developing critical thinking. To do this I had to :

1 Help students organise their knowledge

2 Building on what students already know

3 Facilitating Information Processing, including problem solving, strategy selection, and response to mistakes

4 Facilitating deep thinking through elaboration, through problem solving, observing and modifying of own processes

5 Making thinking processes explicit. (Kerka 1992 p 2).

I do not claim total success or anything approaching it. What I do claim is the taking of that first tentative step towards a critical thinking approach, a step that provided evidence of improving the quality of learning. The whole exercise gave me the confidence to extend the process to other classes as well as fuelling a deep interest in developing my own learning and developing education management competence.

4.3.2 Case Study : Personnel Practitioners

Guernsey has a large number of personnel practitioners who have good experience but no personnel qualification. The College offers an entry level personnel course the Certificate in Personnel Practice (CPP). One problem is that the course involves basic skills which our students possess because of their experience and the fact that most personnel department in Guernsey employ just one person, many of whom have worked in personnel for a number of years. In my managing of the curriculum I was concerned that the words of Smithies (1993 p 6) that "NVQs regulate knowledge and understanding to the dustbins of academe" was becoming a reality in this course. It presented me with an ethical problem where the professional body wanted me to provide basic skills that the student already used in day to day activities, whilst the stakeholders, the student and employer wanted more than a reiteration of the basic personnel skills. After much consideration, I resolved the problem by giving both sides what they wanted. For the professional body emphasis was on basic personnel skills and their assessment, whilst for the student and employer I tried to manage a curriculum that involved the development of more complex interpersonal and problem solving skills. For the professional body the main curriculum emphasis was on the "what", for the student as customer the main curriculum emphasis was on the "why". The words of Coleman seemed relevant to my attempt to manage the transformation of learning when "transactional management can be regarded as a contract, but transformational management is a "basis of change based on commitment" (Coleman 1994 p 69). In this I was engaging in micropolitics in the sense stated by Hoyle by seeking to use resources of authority to use their resources of authority and influence to further interests" (Hoyle 1982 p 126) This incursion into micropolitics was for the positive reason of providing student and employer with a product and process they needed.

One of the approaches to managing the development of such skills has been through class discussion, questioning, probing, reflecting, analysing etc.

Students' end of course comments included:

      The tutor in discussion will look at a problem from more than one angle and give a variety of answers. In turn this gives the students like myself much substance to analyse and also confidence to give our own opinion
      The tutor encourages us to discuss problems amongst ourselves and will often provide an alternative point of view that makes us "sit up" and think again. These workshop sessions are very stimulating and again are part of personnel practice. 

One feature of the course has been to show the increasing use of critical thinking by most of the students to develop their own practice. It is a start from which to develop further development. This supports the view of Thomas that vocational education provides much scope for the development of critical thinking for the following reasons :

(1) occupations are becoming more reliant on cognitive capacities; (2) the changing work environment requires flexibility and adaptability to changing conditions; and (3) vocational education provides a real world context for cognitive development. (Thomas 1992 in Kerka 1992 p 1)

In the Guernsey context the words of Thomas ring true. In an economy with overfull employment personnel practitioners have to attract applicants, through increasingly innovative approaches. In this course students were encouraged to reflect on their practice and to follow the observe, reflect, plan and act cycle in their practice. Some took to the approach better than others. All saw the value of a systematic approach to reflection.

Examples of student reflection and critical thinking to resolve problems were seen in the area of recruitment and selection. Guernsey has a unique problem - full employment. The normal personnel course would concentrate on the process of recruitment from the environment where there are many candidates for the job. In Guernsey recruitment is not simply selecting from a large number of people, it is worrying if you will get any applicants. These circumstances create an initial feeling of dissonance. However, as we have seen, dissonance is a provoker of critical and creative thinking. The Guernsey students quickly adapted to the process of problem solving. One student developed a pre interview check list which is used in school visits and provides potential applicants with a list of how to approach an interview. Another student developed a package of information, in the form of question and answers which is used to describe the process of recruitment and tell potential school leaver's what work in the finance industry is really like.

4.4 Consequences to my managing the curriculum

From a teaching point of view, my own reflection will help my curriculum development for future classes. As a consequence of my own developing understanding of the application of critical thinking to the curriculum I prepared a document, primarily as an aid to myself, but something I wanted to share with colleagues. Some welcomed the initiative. Others were less enthusiastic. Even the enthusiastic sometimes failed to appreciate the hard and continuous work involved. I was asked to run a critical thinking session for new GNVQ entrants. "Write an assignment they can work on in induction week" was the brief. The objective was to seal with critical thinking in an assignment. I turned down the offer with the comment that the GNVQ students needed critical thinking as an ongoing core subject. This story shows the danger of adopting a minimalist approach to critical thinking.

The case studies, literature review and my reflection on my practice has shown that I need to develop a more methodical approach to teaching critical thinking skills. The informal nature of using these skills has been of considerable assistance. In some ways one could regard the approach as a pilot scheme. Now I want to develop the skills. I have developed a document to further the management of the teaching of critical thinking.

4.4.1 What are the CT skills :

These include conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating

Connecting new information to former knowledge, Selecting thinking strategies deliberately.

Thinking about thinking, knowing "what we know" and "what we don't know". Reflection

Questioning

Ability to explain how we think and how they arrived at the judgement. Decision making and problem solving.

Disposition of teacher and student in developing CT
Teacher disposition                   Student disposition
Use of open ended questions           Using problem solving techniques
Probing for reasoning strategies      Using written exercises to justify reasoning
Encouragement of curiosity,           Using reflection and feedback exploration and          investigation  
Teaching learning techniques          Use of learning techniques such as key words and                                              
                                      memory maps
                                      Using visual imprint to develop learning
Introducing dissonance into problems  Using everyday situations as learning models                                                 

Critical Thinking is a dynamic process of teaching and learning. It is one where student and teacher can learn.

Teachers can help develop the metacognitive skills of students through the teacher :

1 Helping students organise their knowledge

2 Building on what students already know

3 Facilitating Information Processing, including problem solving, strategy selection, and response to mistakes

4 Facilitating deep thinking through elaboration, through use of problem solving, observing and modifying of own processes

5 Making thinking processes explicit.

6 Encouraging student innovation

 Techniques that can help develop cognitive development:

I was now at the stage where I could use the acquired theory and examples in practice to attempt to develop my own practice and to systematically further the use of critical thinking in the classroom.

Reflective practice Reflection is looking back on some event or events. There are a number of steps that we must take to ensure that reflection is not uncritical diary writing. These steps are :

1 Identify an incident in work or in everyday life

2 Identify something in the incident that you want to reflect upon

3 Recollect and think about the incident and your activities

4 Describe the situation, in writing

5 Interpret the interaction or incident you have described

6 Develop explanations for you behaviour, behaviour of others etc.

7 Choose the most likely of the explanations

How I have used this technique in classes:

This has been used in personnel courses with varying success as described in one of the case studies discussed earlier. What I want to develop is the student analyse of a problem. They are prepared to examine issues but I need to encourage greater analysis of the process of their reflection. This will require the student to follow all of the seven steps outlined above.

Journal, Dialogue approach

The Socratic / dialogue approach is reflection in the form of questions and answers

How I have used this technique in classes:

This is a process often used for examination students in law and management subjects. I have used it mainly in legal studies. One approach has been to provide students with a scenario of legal problems where they provide answers. I then ask supplementary "what if" questions which encourage students to seek alternative answers and as they become more familiar with the process to ask questions of me.

A variation was used with an "A" level law student whose confidence had been dented by being told when in primary school that she was dense. The students' behaviour was a classic self fulfilling prophesy. Fortunately, the Headteacher of her secondary school realised that the student had untapped ability. This was in her final year at secondary school. The student came to the Guernsey College of Further Education and followed a GNVQ course with "A" Level law. In the final few months of the law course the use of question and answer developed the critical thinking abilities of the student. The result of her hard work was a place, at her first choice university, to read law, at the age of 18.

Journal -                             Use of the dialectic in Learning
Content Notes:                        Personal Analytical Comments:
"A fact"                              Why is this important?
"B fact"                              How does this fact relate to "A" fact?
Conclusions                           What questions does it raise in your mind? 

Such journals actively involve students with the subject matter by asking them to reflect on it, and they also provide raw material for finished papers and for small group or whole class discussions.

How I have used this technique in classes:

This technique has not been used although it is something I want to develop with students.

Work Based Problem learning In some ways this is close to reflection. It involves applying basic learning skills such as conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating to situations you are familiar with and are real life issues. This approach is claimed to have a high transference of learning to the workplace, whilst traditional classroom teaching is thought to have only a 10% transference from classroom to workplace.

How I have used this technique in classes:

This aspect of critical earning has been used with adult student on a range of courses. In its original application it was used as a means of expediency. I was seeking means of saving students time. This has to be considered within the Guernsey context of over full employment. This led to students failing to complete assignments such as "What is leadership : Can it be learnt or is it something we are born with?" Whilst this essay would encourage thinking it was seen as academic and not relevant to them or their company. However, as soon as they were asked to relate this to their work place then the valued from the transference of learning became apparent and some excellent work was produced.

Discussion When focused can develop thinking skills such as conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating, as well as developing reflection on practice. A structured discussion is necessary to concentrate on the business in hand and not be mere gossip. The use of questions is seen by Paul and others, as a significant developer of critical skills.

How I have used this technique in classes:

This has been a major part of personnel practice courses. Once again this must be seen in the Guernsey environment as described in the case study on personnel practitioners. The typical Guernsey personnel student is performing tasks of a personnel manager, usually working in a one person personnel department. However, they have almost always come into personnel from other functions, usually senior secretarial. This isolation in working practice makes for uncertainty as to whether one is being a sound practitioner or not. Discussions, in an open but confidential environment with tutor and other students helped their understanding, development and confidence. In these structured discussions problems were discussed in a professional and developmental manner. A strong outcome from this sort of approach is the sharing of experiences and the willingness to contribute experiences, both good and not so good.

Using structured controversy in the classroom can take many forms. In its most typical form, you select a specific problem (the closer the problem is to multiple issues central to the course the better), it involves providing students with a limited amount of background information and asking them to construct an argument based on this information. This they do by working in groups.

Context / Memory maps Because we see words in the form of pictures we can utilise this to develop our thinking skills as well as in developing a useful way of storing and recalling information.

How I have used this technique in classes:

I use such techniques to teach law relating to Sale of Goods. My notes are the visual picture I have of the memory map. The preparation of the memory map helps develop thinking ability. In personnel studies topics such as HRM may be better appreciated through memory maps. Try it and record why you agree or not with my view. In a few weeks return to your learning log or diary and see whether you still agree. Further reading on this and most important, illustrations can be seen in books by Tony Buzan

Key words Some subject lend themselves to key word analysis, which derives fro computer database search techniques and the belief that we see things in terms of pictures.

How I have used this technique in classes:

Law students find learning cases a problem. I encourage them to take a piece of paper with three headings

Topic                                    Name of case                      Key words

One case we use in contract law is Calill v Carbolic Smokeball Company Ltd 1893 (I bet those of you who have studied law smiled when you saw the case name) The first two columns are easily dealt with. The key word column is more difficult. As the student learns the case the key word could be a sentence or even a paragraph. Eventually the student will end with something like this :

Topic                  Name of case           Key words
Contract               Calill v Carbolic      Influenza cure failed          
Offer, Certainty       Smokeball Company

When the student reads the list he or she sees a mental picture of the case. You can almost see Mrs Calill go to the shop, buy the smokeball to keep away influenza, fall ill with influenza, see the advertisement that led to the case etc. I think I have made the point about key words and visual impact on thinking.

Case Studies In recent years the case study has become accepted as a means of examining and resolving problems. A case study can be a potent way of identifying (conceptualising) analysing, synthesising and evaluating a problem.

How I have used this technique in classes:

This is an area where development is needed. Material is being developed for courses that will encourage a range of techniques such as reflection, journal and case study. What I want to encourage is student using case study to analyse their on going development as teachers.

Learning Log This can be a record and analysis of learning. The value is that we can record things that at the time of writing may not appear important. When we see the 'big picture' we may see what was once seen as unimportant become of interest or may even explain a problem. The problem solving approach takes time to accept. It can create dissonance, especially for the mature student. The recording of the process of coming to terms with such an approach can be helpful in understanding the process and in developing thinking power.

How I have used this technique in classes:

This is an a approach encouraged for students on GNVQ courses. It is in the infant stage of development and needs much work to make the technique a truly learning experience.

Apply problem solving and evaluation skills The basic thinking skills or competencies such as conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating form the basis of the approach to problem solving and evaluation.

How I have used this technique in classes:

Applying problem solving and evaluation techniques are central to the case study on Creative Marketing Communications case study in section 4.4.2. It reflects that attempt to encourage 17 and 18 year old students to open their minds to the opportunity such a multi disciplined unit presents for creative learning.

Explaining dissonance When we are faced with inconsistency, perhaps in behaviour towards us; we can develop our thinking ability through explaining this behaviour. Tribe, speaking of learning law; refers to the motivational value of dissonance, in that it motivates us to seek the resolve of problems. (Tribe 1996 p 9) We need to beware of attribution theory where we seek to attribute blame to others not ourselves. For instance the teacher whose students receive poor exam results will usually find some means of attributing the blame to the student. What I am suggesting is that we try to explain the inconsistencies in a rational reflective manner. Why is an otherwise exemplary employee suddenly late for work? Why has a negotiator suddenly changed his or her negotiating approach to us. These create forms of dissonance, or uncertainty that we need to explain.

How I have used this technique in classes:

This technique has been used with vocational based personnel courses.

Visual / verbal transference This has been mentioned earlier. It is based on the view of people like Koestler who stated that true creativity (thinking) begins where verbal language ends and visual appreciation takes place. The key word technique is an important application. A superb example of verbal / visual transference is the story of the Post it Note.

How I have used this technique in classes:

A course such as Creative Marketing Communication is based around visual / verbal transference. The approach is to encourage students to analyse advertisements and the meaning to different people.

Summary

After developing and reflection on the techniques to create critical thinking I set about writing examples of outline tasks that would encourage creative and critical thinking. :

Law topics

Law Topic 1

This discussion topic is to consider the legal implication of the use of human organs in transplantation operations.

This will involve recall and discovery of the basic law. This is a relatively easy part of the exercise. What we want the students' to look at are the moral issues involved, this will entail looking at the moral and legal issues as the affect the law. It can also in a more critical scenario involve the student examining the economic and social aspects of the law relating to transplantation's.

There are many ways in which the student can develop understanding of the sometimes, heated controversy, which this topic encourages. It can also look at more specific issues such as the permanent vegetative state (PVS) patients and the legal (brain stem) definition of death and its consequences to transplantation's. This PVS problem can be treated as a stand alone problem or as part of the general transplantation picture of it can be related to the events following the Hillsborough disaster.

Law Topic 2

Hillsborough Disaster. Legal issues arising from the Hillsborough  disaster. This tragedy can be looked at from the PVS approach as well as the duty of care implications in the law of Tort.

These two topics can create a good deal of discussion and arguments for and against particular issues. They are ideal for two persons or groups to develop as a legal presentation, whilst allowing the student every opportunity to develop their own creativity.

Law Topic 3

The topic of exclusion clauses provides another opportunity to use structured controversy as a legal learning mode.

If we examine the exclusion clause in the contract that exists when we take a film of a rare occurrence to be developed, we will almost  certainly find that the contract states that the liability of the processor is limited to replacing any lost or damaged film. The case for and against  the exclusion clause can be examined.

This type of exercise allows the student to recall the law that has been taught, to examine other cases on the subject, to evaluate the evidence            and to develop a strategy for resolving the problem and then execute the strategy into a finished answer.

Topics in management

Management Topic 1

Students can be asked to examine the pros and cons of appraisal schemes as seen by personnel practitioners. Such a structured controversy can allow the student to develop competence at researching such issues in many ways, including the Internet. The exercise can produce some interesting arguments and justifications for and against appraisal. Cases can be constructed in many ways. We can examine the different forms of appraisal and their advantages and disadvantages as well as looking at the cost benefits of appraisal from the point of view of cost, accuracy of data, possible adverse effect on performance, stress etc.

Management Topic 2

Examine the contention that leaders are born not made. This controversy has been frequently been discussed in general terms in courses and magazines. However, we might require the student to ground their conclusion in research by examining the literature on the topic and considering the views of Kotter and others that leaders and managers are not the same, as well as the view of those such as Adair that we can train leaders.               

We all teach CT or do we?
Two problems can be used to illustrate theoretical thinking approach to the curriculum. In the first problem students are required to examine the recruiting process from advertisement to appointment.
 
Traditional Lesson Approach           Critical Skills Lesson Approach
Description of recruiting process     Explain importance of application form        
CV                                    Evaluate different types of CV
Application form                      Analyse the efficiency of the interview
Interview process                     Validity of interview as a means of assessment
 
In the second problem the student are tasked discussing the duty of care
 
Traditional Lesson Approach           Critical Skills Lesson Approach
What is duty of care                  General idea of concept using normal language
Importance of duty of care in         Case study requiring students to 
proving negligence                    analyse terms such as neighbour, foreseeability , policy                                         and proximity in their legal context, as a means to      
                                       understanding duty of  care 

All of this shows the effort that needs to go into CT. The lecturer must manage, lead and encourage the student to first learn the techniques and then integrate them into lessons and assignments. The learning needed and practice, of both lecturer and student must not be underestimated. It is a complex subject involving complex procedures.

4.5 The Effective Critical Thinking Classroom

The words of Blyth that ."learning is more important that teachers' teaching" (Blyth 1988 p 1) are best understood when looked at in conjunction with some of the ways in which effective teachers interact with students in a skilful manner. They are generally able to:

Establish a relationship with the class.

Show enthusiasm for the class and subject.

Show an interest in the student as a person not as a product

Encourage student questions

Be honest if you cannot answer a question. Promise, and deliver the answer at the next class

Stimulate class participation by persuading student to share experiences and problems. This requires ground rules based on the principle that we all, myself included learn from each class and that confidentiality applies to sensitive information.

Share personal experiences including mistakes. Learn from these.

Openness to new ideas

Ability to suspend one's judgment of others

Ability to listen carefully to others' statements

Tolerance of opposite points of view

Link learning to student experience or professional practice

Provide timely and adequate feedback

(Developed by author from personal experience and after various sources including Garko et al (1994) Ramsden (1992) Smith et al (1994) Walsh et al (1994))

I was now in a position where I could make a more informed attempt to encourage my students to engage in creative thinking

4. 6 Case study on GNVQ Course

This case study recounts my reflections on and in practice on a course taught on the College. The case study is placed in this section of the dissertation as it recounts events that took place during the writing up of the study and provides a live example of attempting to apply the knowledge gained to manage the curriculum. It shows the frustration of trying to persuade students to engage in critical thinking, to act in a constructivist manner and to move away from the behavourist approach that Anderson et al identified as being reflected in SCOTVEC (GNVQ) speak, where the objective is to meet the real or perceived needs of the awarding body. (Anderson et al 1997 p 4)

The course is a GNVQ Business Studies Advanced second year course. The subject was "Creative Marketing Communications". The subject was new to me as I am neither a marketer, nor public relations lecturer. This Creative Marketing Communications course syllabus was structured in a manner that allowed for both tutor and student to engage in creative thinking. The tutor had no text book nor study manual, the student the opportunity to be creative through use of multi subject skills.

One of my first tasks was to write the first assignment. The general nature was prescriptive as the awarding body laid out in detail the outcomes required from the student. In writing the first assignment I kept in mind curriculum theory and practice as well as the emerging literature and data in this piece of research. It was an opportunity to test the ideas in "real time".

The class was split into two groups. One group of ten students were about 17 and 18 years of age, the other group of eight were mainly 17 and 18 years of age but this group had two young adults in their mid twenties in the class.

During my reflections on the outcome of this assignment I happened to mention to the learning support co-ordinator that I had prepared a case study on the assignment. The co-ordinator, who knew all the students made a number of comments. In this respect the coordinator was acting as the critical friend so often mentioned in the action resarch literature. The comments of the critical friend are inserted at the appropriate part of the case study in full and are in italics.

The Assignment

Element 9.1          Propose suitable Public Relations techniques to meet promotional objectives.

Assignment given out :                    16/17 September 1997

Assignment due in                           11/12 November 1997

This assignment requires considerable research and creative thinking. It is necessary for you to explain and give reasons for your answers. Remember the course title Creative Marketing Communications. It is about communication information in such a way to influence the perceptions of consumers to our products. In other words we want to persuade them to accept our products or services.

This subject is best studied through the development of and the analysis of real life marketing and public relations exercises.

The evidence indicators are clearly identified in the syllabus which you have been given. You must constantly refer to the amplification notes that accompany the element structure. In this way you will ensure that you will have carried out all the requirements of the performance criteria range. Please ensure that I am kept aware of your progress and do not hesitate to ask for any help during your preparation of this work.

Task One

We are a computer manufacturer that wishes to promote its products through providing each college and school on Guernsey with ten free computers.

You are required to :

1             Identify at least two different promotional objectives of the company. You must explain why you have chosen these objectives and how you expect the company to manage customer awareness of these objectives throughout the life of the promotion.

2             Explain, with examples the form of public relations techniques you will advise the computer company to adopt throughout the campaign. (Remember that one of our objectives is to maintain customer awareness of our generosity)

3             Evaluate the effectiveness of the exercise. I want you to explain how you would go about evaluating the various proposals. I suggest that you examine the advantages and disadvantages of your suggestions in terms of time, suitability and cost. After this has been completed you can assess your proposals against those of a real company such as Apple who have carried out similar public relations exercises.

In this assignment you are expected to provide detailed reasons for your proposals. You will find it extremely helpful if you first use the library and other College resources to discover similar public relations exercises and comment on them.

Task Two

A similar exercise should be completed for a service based organisation in Guernsey, Drug Concern. You must examine and state at least two promotional objectives, examine and comment on the applicability of a variety of public relations used by Drug Concern and finally evaluate the effectiveness of the public relations techniques of Drug Concern in achieving its promotional objectives.

Critical friend comments : How does the assignment brief match the GNVQ PC's, range and evidence indicators? is the assignment designed by the tutor. Might it not be possible to design assignment with students?. Although difficult, how much teaching has occurred before assignment?

General Comments

The syllabus makes clear the evidence indicators required to performance criteria of this element.

Critical friend comment : This will tend to push students to ensuring outcome with relatively little consideration of process.

I will discuss these with you in detail. If there is anything you are unsure about please let me know. I am here to help you produce the work.

Planning will be an important aid in meeting the criteria. This means that you will have to use the library and other resources to look at public relations (advertising). exercises in marketing and Public Relations magazines. Your planning must show how you went about discovering the sources of information and why. What you must do is to subject this information to critical examination. You should ask questions such as "What is the purpose?" " Who are they trying to influence?" Why are they using the particular approach?" "How do they know if the money spent on the type of advertising or public relations is justified?" "Why have they chosen to advertise this product in this newspaper, magazine or television and another model in another newspaper, magazine or television?"

Critical friend comments : Planning and information handling sheets (Business Studies area requirement) are, themselves, boring and at times irrelevant where creative thinking is required.

It will be worthwhile looking at various marketing magazines to see what promotions are taking place and why. You can get much information from such sources.

During all you assignments with me I want you to let me know how your ideas are progressing. I may then be able to offer you help and suggestions as to how you will complete your assignment.

Enjoy your work

Stephen John

September 1997

One of my first tasks was to take the students through the assignment and to ensure that there was no uncertainty as to what promotional objectives and public relations techniques were. These were contained in the syllabus under the heading amplification.

Critical friend comment : Were students informed / given information regarding critical thinking?

The students were told to be creative and to look for marketing examples, advertisements that could be discussed in the classroom. This would help student thought process of asking why this form of advertisement, to who it is addressed, what are we trying to achieve and the like. At the same time the students were asked to keep a file of marketing communication information as well as their comments. It would be a very basic form of journal.

Like Van Rensselaer (1991) I was stressing to students that the subject matter we were examining was value laden. I explained, with examples; to the students what I meant by the term value laden,. It was for us to make sense of these values and to explore their relevance through other subjects such as psychology. As psychology is not taught to the GNVQ students I had to show them basic books on psychology and advertising. This involved taking the students to the library and showing where the psychology books were and what books and topics, such as perception; might be of help.

Critical friend comment : Some basic teaching / facilitation / questions and answers might have been helpful here as psychology is itself open to critical thinking.

During the progress of this assignment I used the document "Techniques that can help develop cognitive development" (described in the last section) as an aid memoir. The outcome to this assignment shows that I needed to make the students aware of such techniques to develop thinking skills. The use of the dialectic through discussing questions in class, in small .informal study groups and through self questions, is something I want to develop. This approach is different for these students whose usual approach to assignments is to draw up a planning sheet, and then design and send out a questionnaire and interview someone who appears to be connected with the subject matter.

In addition I wanted to encourage discussion and to encourage conceptualising, applying, analysing, synthesising and evaluating. Evaluation is important in GNVQ courses. The student has to evaluate his or her work. The evaluations showed a surface approach to the assignment.

Visualise /verbal transference skills are important in a subject such as Creative Marketing Communications.

All of these techniques would help the development of metacognitive skills of students through the approach described in the last section.

Critical thinking and the assignment in progress.

I felt that the assignment brief would be helpful to the students as it indicated both exactly what was required as well as allowing creative freedom. I expected the students to approach the assignment, as suggested; by looking at the promotional objectives, seeing what magazines such as Marketing Weekly might say about promotions that could be used in the assignment. The initial reaction of the students was to design a questionnaire and send it to a number of firms. Our immediate task was to analyse the worth of this suggested approach. What were they trying to achieve, why us a questionnaire at this stage in the assignment etc. If nothing else it forced the students to question their objectives and tactics. They appreciated that the usual questionnaire and interview might not be appropriate. A group of students suggested sending a fax to computer companies. This proved an interesting topic for a structured controversy discussion where groups of student would examine and to provide the arguments as to why a local retailer of computers would be sent a fax asking for information on sponsoring rather than a computer manufacturer such as Apple or IBM.

Other opportunities for developing structured discussions occurred when one of the first draft submissions stated that "the company logo indicates to the customer that the product has quality". The process of discussion requires the student to analyse and evaluate reasons to justify such a statement. It required not only the evidence but an account of how the evidence could be obtained.

These early incidents suggested that the normal process of learning provides the teacher with numerous opportunities to initiate a form of managed critical thinking. The critical question was if the students would or could utilise these opportunities.

Learning Outcomes

At the time the first assignment was handed in a number of comments were made by students.. One comment was that ::

"We are not used to thinking for ourselves. Last year we had assignments that required us to look the answer up in a book. We had assignments that required specific answers. In this course there is no one textbook. I    haven't got used to the freedom of being able to discover and to put things in my own words. I am sure I will do better next time."   (Student Annabel)

In her assignment evaluation Annabel stated :

I found the majority of the information in the PR and marketing books irrelevant in completing the tasks. As an alternative I decided to collect newspaper articles...and apply my own creative thinking. At first I felt this was a poor alternative, but feel that by using this approach I was able to produce the assignment to my way of thinking rather than somebody else's. I didn't arrange an interview...if I were to start again I would spend more time on research...I also could have commented more on similarities and differences of techniques used by the two different types of organisations. (Student Annabel)

Critical friend comment : Note student immediate reaction was that books have the answers.

In another student evaluation Alison accepts that she thought that her plan, completed within two weeks of being given the assignment was adequate.

Critical friend comment : Standardised practice inculated into students by Business Studies area approach to teaching and learning.

Alison continues :

I found it [subject matter] could be dealt with in many ways. This meant that I started writing the report in a manner that was not appropriate as I had completely lost the theme I needed to work to...I found myself clutching at straws to find the information which would help me and I became very disheartened with the entire assignment. This could however be because it is my first assignment in this unit and at present am finding it difficult to understand the subject. I also need to spend time in adjusting to a new lecturer and the manner in which Stephen John works...I do not think that I have shown my true potential in this subject area yet but I hope it will change rapidly as I do not like to be in this situation, especially knowing that I have a very active and productive imagination. I am not pleased with myself or the work for this assignment and know I could do 100% better if I could understand it better. I will need to sit down with Stephen John and ask for help with finding material which will help me with the second assignment in order to improve on my work. I am possibly underestimating myself somewhat but feel that I need to take this approach to push me that little bit harder and therefore will be quite harsh on myself until I have improved dramatically. (Student Alison)

During the weeks leading up to the submission of the assignment this student had discussed the assignment with me to two occasions when I went through how I (as a student) might approach the work.

When reading the assignment my initial reactions were that the student was inhibited in her thinking and creativity by the adoption of a report format that took a passive rather than the required first person approach.

Critical friend comment : This is the Business Studies report writing format used with insistence on 3rd person.

There was evidence of analysis but little or no examples to support and strengthen that analysis. the whole ethos of the assignment was to adopt an almost stand off objective approach rather than to tell me what she, the student thought. This seems an area to explore through dialogue with the student and through dialogue with other staff who teach Alison.

As part of my feedback with Alison on the content and my comments on the assignment, I explained the differing approaches to learning, both surface and deep approaches as well as the views on teaching outlined in Ramsden. I mentioned that I was sympathetic to the making learning possible approach (Ramsden 1992 p 114 - 116) which discovered from the student what the student felt had inhibited his or her learning. The responses were that the assignment brief was "woolly" and could have been taken in three or four different ways. Alison had not fully appreciated the multidisciplined approach to the subject matter. When I asked why she had not come back to me for further explanation and discussion as to how the assignment could be improved The answer was illuminating "I feel inhibited from asking for specific help from lecturers as the GNVQ regulations state that to obtain a distinction, which is what I want; there must be minimal input from the lecturer"

Critical friend comment : The same student made it clear that she could not face the prospect of doing the assignment again. Interesting that Alison expects detailed, task based assignments at this stage [last year] of the course. Other assignments I have seen [by different lecturers] take the place of tutor input and, in themselves can prevent students achieving a distinction.

Susan in her assignment made comments such as "In order to do this [maintain public awareness] they may wish to follow a campaign like Apple Computers followed ten years ago" Nothing else about the campaign or any lessons that could be derived from it. This failure to justify with evidence that Susan had discovered is worrying. In feedback I asked Susan why she had not described the Apple campaign. She referred me to a general comment later in the paper that made no mention the source nor tell me of the campaign, its objective, success etc. Here we have an instance where the student had discovered valuable evidence but had not appreciated its value and how it could be used to support the quality of the submitted assignment.

Critical friend comment : Suspect that Susan had read it : assumes others would know. A typical student reaction.

Another student, Desmond, when handing in his work told me that it was of merit standard. When he saw the mark awarded for the assignment he attempted to justify his contention that he should obtain a merit for his work. I explained were he had made statements that were not supported with evidence, nor explanation given for the statement. What was particularly interesting in the feedback from this student were comments such as "You expect more from us than any other lecturer" and "What do I have to do to get a merit". On hearing what I was looking for (using GNVQ guidelines) for a merit the response was "Is it worth the extra effort to get a merit in Creative marketing Communications" .Another student then made the comment "Shouldn't you aim to understand and get the best grade possible". On the surface Desmond was adopting a surface approach to learning and adopting a coping strategy of doing just enough to pass..

This shallow, surface approach to learning is seen from the student evaluations of their assignment work. It has been instructive to compare the GNVQ student comments on how they tacked the problems with illustrations of deep and surface descriptions in Entwistle (1987 p 59)

Sid stated in his evaluation that :

This assignment was an interesting one which required quite a lot of research and thinking about. I believe that this assignment went quite well and if I were to do it again I may spend more time researching information   in the library.

Also on second thoughts I could have phoned up Drug Concern for more        information on Apple Computers.. I also had to change a couple of dates on the planning sheet due to starting the assignment later than expected.

Finally, I think the assignment went well ant the outcome was relatively          good. (Student Ben A)

In contrast Ben D, the only student who set out to deal with the assignment problems in a way that established what each task was and answered the questions in a competent manner, said in the evaluation that "the books consulted gave me a greater understanding of creative marketing" Whilst Ben D was unable to find much information from Drug Concern, "However my mum is a qualified nurse who has experience in a drug and alcohol ward and was able to give much useful information". The evaluation goes on "I have been taught a lot about drugs from my parents and I could relate this into my work. I was also able to mention the education we were given on drugs at school". This was the only evaluation that mentioned the relating of and building on past experience and the relating of various parts of the assignment work to others.

Nesta in her evaluation found little difficulty in contacting Drug Concern but "...it was hard to explain to the group [Drug concern] what the questions meant and what information I needed for the assignment. I didn't like this task as I had done the work in task one". This was an interesting comment as students could choose from a number of promotional objectives from the performance criteria. They were told that if the same performance criteria, product awareness; was chosen for the computer company and Drug Concern the objectives of product awareness would be entirely different fro the products. This point was clearly not appreciated by Nesta.

My own instant reflection

I had not discovered how the students learnt (Ramsden 1992 pp 114 - 116) In this I had not done enough to make their learning possible by discovering what they believed were their barriers to learning.. Should I have discussed learning approaches with students, providing examples of deep and surface approaches of student work (Entwistle 1987 p 59) Certainly I should infuse thinking skills into the lesson.

Critical friend comment : Should this not be part of induction to course.

These pieces of reflection are in the nature of descriptive reflection. I need to enter into a deeper dialogic reflection (Smith and Hatton 1993 p 17) in order to articulate my strategy of teaching thinking to the GNVQ students.

Critical friend comment : Again, induction - whole college approach. You cannot do this on your own without other staff following similar lines.

I was surprised with the comments and feedback with students. It created a form of dissonance which motivated me to further discover how I could make learning possible. Although the students had been critical in that they felt my expectations of them were too high, a number of the students had decided to join an additional class in Law that started on 27 November 1997. I need to reconstruct my own understanding of the process of learning, and to reflect on how I can engage the students in critical thinking. In this it will be interesting to see how students such as Alison and Susan deal with the developing thinking aspects of the law course.

My post assignment reflection

The first task was to write more detailed notes of the class experiences and reactions. I now needed to return to the literature, both on learning theory and to re read the material I had gathered in this research on critical thinking.

I looked closely at Entwistle (1987) particularly the chapter "Learning from the pupils perspective Pages 56 - 75 and Ramsden (1992) pages 17 - 85 on learning from teacher and student perspectives. Although I had used both texts previously I found both invaluable, Entwistle as a reminder of the theory and Ramsden for a deeper look at teacher and student problems in learning.

The differences in student approaches and the multitude of reasons for student performance was evident from Ramsden. Whilst one could empathise with the view of teachers on an Accountancy course who regretted the inability of students to understand concepts and to fail to see how things fit together (Ramsden 1992 p 32) I needed to understand why my attempt to get students to do the same things had not been successful. One immediate conclusion was that I had failed to sufficiently integrate the curriculum based theory with critical thinking theory and concepts.

Critical friend comments : Go back even further in the theory - Reuven Fuerstein - remember Piaget - assimilation and accomodation.

Like Ramsden I was asking the questions "Why do students obtain quantities of knowledge, yet fail to change their understanding of what it means?" "How relevant was the fact that students might not see the learning as being relevant to them?" (Ramsden 1992 p 39) If we are talking of learning in terms of reconstruction then this may be an aspect to further reflect upon and discuss with students.

What students learn seems closely linked to how they go about the process of learning. In the GNVQ course I was expecting evidence of relational and perhaps, extended abstract thinking as in the SOLO taxonomy. Instead all but two used either unistructural or multistructural approaches to their study. This I felt, was the most disappointing outcome of the exercise

Ramsden reviews studies such as Biggs (1988) Van Rossum and Schenk (1984) and Hounsell (1984; 1985) that support the view of Marton and Saljo who say :

We are not arguing that the deep / holistic approach is always "best" : only that it is the best, indeed the only way, to understand learning materials. (Marton and Saljo 1984 p 46)

This statement of the value of the deep approach is returned to at length by Ramsden concluding that "surface approaches can never lead to understanding". (Ramsden 1992 p 59) Important to my reflection were the extracts from student descriptions of how they approached the learning task. This extract from Laurilllard 1984 pp 134 - 135 in Ramsden 1992 pp 47 - 48) supplemented those of Entwistle (1987 p 59)

Whilst there is a clear commitment to deep learning approaches, Ramsden warns that :

.we cannot train students to use deep approaches when the educational environment is giving them the message that surface ones are rewarded. (Ramsden 1992 p 64)

This is one aspect that requires further consideration in the Guernsey GNVQ study. The comments of Marton, Hounsell and Entwistle 1984 in Ramsden 1992 p 58) concerning the "regularity with which students obliged to use a surface approach to a task, or to an entire course, describe their feelings of resentment, challenge and anxiety" need examination in the context of the GNVQ course. The fact that I am teaching the course, not as a marketing person but because no one else would teach the course may be environmentally pertinent.

The Gothenburg study on deep and surface study discovered that when the researchers tried to give hints as to how to engage in a deep approach to study

...by inserting questions that encouraged students to relate to various parts a curious thing happened. The students in question adopted a rather extreme form of surface learning. They 'invented' a way of answering the questions without engaging with the text. (Ramsden 1992 p 63)

I need to reflect whether this applied in the GNVQ course, where despite attempts at scaffolding the students still adopted a surface approach to the subject matter.

The adoption of a surface approach can, according to Ramsden (1992 p 58) be a "tedious and unrewarding activity" and that when students appear to be unable to study we should "examine their approaches to learning before blaming them for being idle and unmotivated" (Ramsden 1992 p 58) However 'we cannot train students to use deep approaches when the educational environment is giving them the message that surface ones are rewarded" (Ramsden 1992 p 64)

The evaluation comments of Alison stating that she did not know my style and approach was highlighted by the comment "They read or write for a particular audience and they do these things in response to the implicit or explicit requirements of their teachers" The use of the plural teachers is an interesting area to examine in the GNVQ context.

The background knowledge and interest of the student in the subject matter is seen by Ramsden to be critical to meaningful (deep) learning. In this respect I attempted to provide students with topics, computers in schools and Drug Concern that would provide both background knowledge and interest in an environment familiar to them. However, it did not

One possible reason for this is in the work of Laurillard (1984 p 131 in Ramsden 1992 p 68) work. where students perceptions of marking criteria may influence their approach to learning. Again, Ramsden's comment that 'we cannot train students to use deep approaches when the educational environment is giving them [a different] message" (Ramsden 1992 p 64) may be tested by dialogue with student and staff. Most of the GNVQ marketing group had not previously been taught by me.

Whilst Ramsden is speaking of University teaching the principles are equally appropriate to a College of Further Education. The process of reflection can now continue with a re read of the developing paper and then I can attempt the dialogic and critical reflection necessary to resolve my present teaching problem with the GNVQ course.

I want to see students using their evaluations to produce comments that evidence deep thinking such as those in Entwistle 1987 p 59)

I read more slowly than usual, knowing I'd have to answer questions, but I didn't speculate on what sort of questions they'd be. I was looking for the argument and whatever points were used to illustrate it. I could not avoid relating the article to other things I'd read, past experience, and associations.

Whilst reading the article, I took great care in trying to understand what the author was getting at, looking out for arguments, and facts which backed up the arguments...I found myself continually relating the article to personal experience, and thus facilitating an understanding of it.

I stopped and thought about what they were actually saying...if there was something I thought wasn't right and so on. You also stop and then (wonder) if that really follows...is it really logical, what they've written.(Entwistle 1987 p 59)

Examples of shallow surface type learning included :

In reading the article I was looking out mainly for facts and examples. I read the article more carefully than I usually would, taking notes, knowing I was to answer questions about it. I thought the questions would be facts in the article...This did influence the way I read; I tried to memorise names, figures quoted etc...

You get distracted. You think 'I've got to remember this now'. And then you think so hard about having to remember it - that's why you don't remember it... (Entwistle 1987 p 59)

It became clear that a form of modelling was needed to facilitate the deep learning I was seeking and the course content was capable of producing.

I needed to encourage the vigorous interaction with content, the relaying of new ideas to previous knowledge, the relating of evidence to new situations, relating evidence to conclusions and to examine the logic of argument required for deep thinking. (Entwistle 1987 p 60)

Entwistle makes the observation that in an exercise to test Marton's work, his students' " were surprised at the very different ways they had gone about the reading of an article" they had been asked to read and then to describe their approach. The question is why did the Guernsey students fail to adopt deep learning approaches to their work. It is appreciated that students do not always adopt a deep or a shallow approach. Choice of an approach can depend on environmental issues.

Whilst student evaluations are useful indicators of deep and surface learning, there is a need to relate the evaluations to the actual assignment as some students may show evidence of deep learning in the assignment but fail to articulate the deep learning in the evaluation.

My reflection on action suggests that I need to adopt a planned strategy in order to discover the reason why the expected deep learning failed to take place. As writers such as Ramsden and Gremmo and Abe suggest it is the student who can provide us with this information. I decided that a further reading of Anderson et al (1997) was required in order to inform the developing of my strategy.

First, I needed to be explicit about the approach of deep and surface learning and what I was seeking from the students. These implicit models would meet the need identified by Anderson to engage with students "in dialogues which help them develop insight into the nature of thinking" (Anderson et al 1997 p 1) Secondly, I need to ensure that thinking skills are not only integrated into my curriculum, but that this is made clear to the students. Simply asking the students to engage in critical thinking is not sufficient to development of thinking skills.

Anderson et al show that teacher content in the lessons observed by the researchers, contained much reference to the leading of students to hunt the correct (SCOTVEC approved) answer' (Anderson et al 1997 p 4) This suggests that the characteristics of surface approaches put forward by Entwistle such as the objective completing the task, memorising information needed for assessments, treating the task as an external imposition, unreflectiveness about purpose or strategies, focus on discrete elements without integration and the failure to distinguish principles from examples. (Entwistle 1987 p 60) may play a significant part in the developing of learning strategies of the Guernsey students.

The research of Anderson et al stresses the uncritical contribution of teacher input and the relative absence of justification, intrinsic value, alternative approaches, critical appraisal and abstract ideas in the observed lessons. If this conclusion is replicated in other GNVQ courses then it is understandable that the student adopts a similar outcome oriented behavioural approach to their learning. The student outcomes of Anderson et al's SCOTVEC study show a decline in the use of the basic, unsupported statement, and a significant increase in justification of statement with anecdote, as well as a development of use of asides in assignments. Justification by evidence also improved by a relatively small amount. (Anderson et al 1997 p 9)

The Guernsey students had failed to utilise the critical thinking skills identified by Kuhn (1991, 1993) being the abilities to differentiate opinions from evidence, or to support opinions with non spurious evidence, or to promote alternatives to one's own and to know what evidence would support these, and to provide evidence that simultaneously supports the one's own opinions whilst rebutting alternatives, and to take up an epistemological stance which involves the weighing up the pros and cons of what is known. (Anderson et al 1997 p 1)

Perhaps the saddest thing was the failure of the students to "see where things fall together". (Hounsell and Ramsden 1978 p 138)

Comments of critical friend : Fuerstein's Mediated Learning Experiences (MLE) assists in three areas of critical thinking :

(i) Input stage : (perception, exploratory behaviour, verbal tools, organisation of space, temporal concepts, conservation of contancies, precision / accuracy, consideration of two or more sources of information at one time)

(ii) Elaboration stage : (perception of existence of problem, selection of relevant cases, comparative behaviour, broadening of mental field, grasp of reality, relationships, summative behaviour, pursuance of logical evidence, inferential hypothetical thinking, hypothesis thinking, planning behaviour, interiorisation, elaboration of cognitive categories)

(iii) Output phase (communication modalities, virtual relationship, logical responses, communicating logical responses, precise / accuracy in communications, visual transport, planned behaviour)

My own reflections on the comments and dialogue with the critical friend.

The dialogue and comments were most welcome and were centred around two main areas. The first was lecturer input and the second the environment within which the students and lecturer worked. As the lecturer I had overestimated the ability of the student to appreciate the some of the basic critical thinking skills articulated by Kuhn (1991, 1993) who regards critical thinking as having the "abilities : a) to differentiate opinions (or, as she calls them, 'theories') from evidence, b) to support opinions with non spurious evidence c) to propose opinions alternative to one's own and to know what evidence would support these and d) to provide evidence that simultaneously supports one's own opinions while rebutting the alternatives and e) to take an epistemological stance which involves weighing the pros and cons of what is known" (in Anderson et al 1977 p 1)

These are very basic metacognitive skills which I wrongly assumed would flow from the development of the assignment and my input as the course developed. My input was not as effective as it would have been if taught by the marketing expert in the Business Studies department. Whilst I did not have the required knowledge to give specialist input I was capable of providing an informed lay persons input to the students and to advise how I would approach the assignment (modelling). I was, perhaps, mistaken in assuming skills or the recognition by students of their ability to use these skills.

Later assignments in Creative Marketing Communications showed some signs of improvement. Students were using situations developed in the Business Plan module as a basis for the marketing assignments. There was a deeper interest in the subject matter, but still a reluctance to engage in relational thinking. There was still a preference for shallow thinking that is acceptable to the awarding body.

Need here for student evaluation data from later assignments.

The comments of the critical friend make clear the exasperation of the learning support co-ordinator with the barriers to students using critical thinking skills in an assignment environment that fails to encourage the development and use of such skills. The need for an inclusive teaching of critical skills follows from the specific skills required to be evidenced in specific assignments. The literature shows the enormous range of thinking skills and the need for specific identification and teaching of such skills by both the subject lecturer and the specialist learning support staff.

This reflection on practice has improved my knowledge of the process of learning of the GNVQ students and has contributed to the more effective facilitating of the next creative marketing communication assignment and the law class with some of the GNVQ students who are the actors in this case study.

Amongst e mail correspondence to the Think Prof list Diane Fallon on 10 September 1997 said :

The classes I most remember were those in which I had to apply myself and my own thinking -- a high school class in which we designed our own utopias, another in which we researched and did presentations on the Impressionists, a French class in which we wrote and presented skits. (Dianne Fallon<ydfallon@yctc.net. To: think-prof@SONOMA.EDU 10 September 1997)

What is clear from Fallon's personal experiences is that the thinking exercises themselves demanded original thinking and were not capable of being copied from "a textbook". This reinforced my own feelings of seeking original work, but needed something else to ensure that students began to think in a creative manner. I found the words of Linda Cornover in an e mail to Think Prof on 26 September 1997 of considerable help in reflecting and reconstructing my own learning experiences. Cornover says : :

One day I was talking about the caring component of nursing (not the specifics of technology). Student were not "getting it" so I said lets talk about a patient who has a specific condition and you tell me what you would do as a nurse for that person. This led to a great discussion about what caring means, the fact that they didn't know what kind of symptoms the person would have and resulted in the class sending groups out to the library to fact finding about the condition, the symptoms expected, common nursing interventions, etc. The class then developed a plan for nursing care for this individual(which in my opinion was excellent) and they had not ever heard of nursing process and care planning yet! (lconover@sjcme.edu to Think-Prof@ssonoma.edu 26 September 1997)

A timely warning came form B Hooper that ::

Too often we do not communicate what students are to do. Our objectives are all teacher objectives - what we plan to do. Then when students do not somehow guess what our objectives are, we wonder                why and usually blame the students - they don't want to think, they are lazy, etc. Try re-thinking how we do syllabi and see if that helps.

               (Bhooper@sbuniv.edu to Think-Prof@sonoma.edu 16 September 1997)

4.7 Inclusive or exclusive Critical Thinking Instruction?

One practical matter I need to consider is the matter of whether critical thinking skills should be taught as discrete classes or infused into the curriculum. Cotton states that :

.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. Freseman (1990 p 48) is clear that thinking skills should be taught immediately before being applied in practice. (Cotton 1991 p 10)

Wong suggest a compromise in stating that :

I think the justification exists for placing more emphasis on direct explicit teaching, interactive discussions, substantive feedback, and control and self-monitoring strategies (Wong 1985 p. 26).

Whatever approach, direct or infusive, the time involved in developing learning in thinking is substantial - at least 35 minutes a day, four days a week, for several months, for true thinking skills development to occur (Pogrow 1987 p. 12).

The complex nature of teaching thinking is not only time consuming, but also requires 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 (Orr and Klein 1991 p. 131).


 

5. Conclusion

The first outcome is that I have learnt much about critical thinking, tested the literature and practice, and that my managing of the curriculum has been enhanced through undertaking this study.

Critical thinking is often thought of as a boring and dry area of learning. This study proves that it is anything but boring. The opportunities to manage the curriculum and to develop critical and creative thinking in students are considerable. To this must be added the learning and personal development of the teacher. A recent contributor to the Internet THINK-Prof forum on Critical Thinking wrote following a series of moans from teachers about students being hostile to critical thinking classes :

               As a recent subscriber to THINK-PROF I was beginning to wonder

            at all the negative attitudes by instructors/trainers out in the   field....We train/instruct tactics, techniques and procedures, but it     takes someone who really cares about their student and the future to   educate young minds (or old minds for that matter).

A further reply shows that students need to be supported in their learning to be critical thinkers.

               Subject: Re: Hostility from Students -Reply

               Author: THINK-PROF@SONOMA.EDU at RUCKER-EMH4

               Date: 8/20/97 3:00 PM

            In response to c. Miller's statement about students WANTING to think I fully agree. Most of the students ...really enjoy thinking, once they are shown how it is done. Contrary to other comments that I          frequently come across, students will think, and they will rise to just about any reasonable challenge that is thrown their way.

From : SUZANNE_JENKINS_at_RUCKER-MS25@RUCKER EMH4.ARMY.MIL

Critical thinking is thinking that is actively managed by both teacher and student. It is the "ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality." (Elder and Paul 1994 pp 34 - 35). Whilst Whetton (1996) places emphasis on decision making as a major part of critical thinking there is general agreement that critical thinking involves the ability and tendency to gather, evaluate and use information effectively (Beyer 1985 in Potts 1994). Using a different approach Peters tells us the value of critical thinking in "Our strategic advantage lies in the leverage of knowledge" (Peters 1994 p 169) and the same author stresses the managing of this activity in that we should "Develop a systematic plan to attack your most cherished beliefs" (Peters 1994 p 189)

The willingness of both student and teacher to engage in critical thinking is all important. The teacher needs to manage the curriculum in order to encourage (motivate) a positive approach to critical thinking. To do this we must The words of Stenhouse (1975 pp 4 - 5) of the curriculum being likened to a 'recipe for a dish, at first imagined as a possibility, then as a subject of experiment...varied according to taste" capture for me the ethos of critical thinking. This is not to suggest that encouraging critical thinking is a quick fix. It involves an approach to learning and thinking that Whetton (1996 p 23) believes is alien to our normal analysis of events. Whetton, it is recalled, warns against the problem of individuals losing the ability to experiment, improvise or make mental detours. What this means is that the teacher needs to be aware of this feeling, as well as the group think approach of Janis (1975) in approaching the development of a programme of critical thinking..

In order to gain a clearer understanding we need to look at their approach to learning. This would require an examination of learning styles and theories of learning. What is vital is to know that such sources exist and to make use of those parts that are appropriate to the process of learning. We need to be aware of the wider world outside of the classroom and the help it can provide to us. The study of student disposition allows us to better understand that critical thinking and its application is dependent on the environment. Not only is the disposition of the student an essential ingredient, but the subject is also a critical factor in the development of critical thinking. All this means that the managing of the curriculum is so important if we want students to become critical and creative thinkers.

The analysis of techniques used to encourage the development of critical thinking in section 4.4 show that the different techniques may be more appropriate that others in different subjects and environments. In the first case study involving law students (described in the analysis section) the students, whilst not being overtly hostile to a critical thinking approach showed signs of resentment in having to think. They found that it was a culture shock, it created dissonance, but eventually the outcome was one of educational synergy. The reluctance to think critically soon disappeared. The outcome was that every student appreciated that his or her knowledge had developed as a result of the exercise. Care for the student and teacher support in the developing of personal structures through teacher support is necessary to enable students to become inquiring learners. All of this suggests that learning theories and especially, constructive theories can be of assistance in the developing of the curriculum. My own reflection on action reveals that whilst my "raw ideals" were good, they were only developed (reconstructed) through this study. Future classes will benefit from my action research and my personal development of practice.

The adult student will have different needs to the 16 or 17 year old full time student. The case study dealing with the 17 year old studying Creative Marketing Communication has different needs to the personnel manager working towards a professional qualification. Whilst both need teacher support, the full time young adult has frequently not had to involve themselves in critical thinking. As the case study on Creative Marketing Communication shows most of the critical thinking experiences came from actual critical incidents in the classroom and in the students written work. This linking of concrete experiences to learning was a vital ingredient in the developing of thinking skills. The student who wrote that a company logo created a good feeling in the potential consumer, and left it at that, had to be encouraged to analyse why the logo made an impact. This was not an easy task for the student used to presenting statements without analysis. Defending such a statement required the student to discover evidence that justified the statement. This, in turn, led to the student discovering methods of discovering the evidence. Whilst these step by step approaches were familiar to the adult student they were not familiar to the post GCSE student.

All of this means that the teacher who wishes to engage in managing the development of critical thinking will soon appreciate the truth in the words of Entwistle (1987 p 92) that we need to concentrate more on the process of the curriculum than on content. Stenhouse's comment of the curriculum as a recipe is central to this approach. All of this suggests that the teacher who desires to encourage self and student critical thinking must have a philosophy of teaching that is in line with Ramsden (1992 pp 111 - 116) who suggests a philosophy of making learning possible. Ramsden provides numerous illustrations of good creative teaching "students will be enthusiastic if they see the teacher as stimulating. This view can be seen in student perceptions on teaching. :

I had thought that they wouldn't be any better than the teachers at the convent, but I have to say that their totally different attitude towards teaching made them shine. They were all really into their subjects and it was an extension of themselves. They loved it and were truly excellent.

One of the reasons I came to Eton was to find out why it was so successful and I now know that it is purely due to the teachers' attitude to their work. They make work fun, explain it thoroughly and, what is most important, you aren't afraid to ask questions. They were very encouraging and gave constructive criticism. ('You' 1994 p 24)

These comments were of teaching at Eton. They were the views of students from State schools who spent a week at Eton. It was a story of attitude, communications and other interpersonal skills that made for good teaching. What was not stated is the effort involved in doing this.

In a student guide to university courses and teaching we find :

Metrick made a typically dry and dense class into an exciting and intellectually stimulating ride through microeconomic theory. It is difficult to overstate His teaching abilities. All the usual positive qualities apply to him in spades : His sense of humour is outstanding, His ability to convey material to students is practically unparalleled and His enthusiasm is truly divine. (Harvard Confidential 1995 p 122)

This quote is from a student guide to first year courses at Harvard. Most of the guide talks about courses and process as well as content. The writers are not afraid of criticising content, process and teacher. However, Andrew Metrick a new teacher at Harvard obviously made a distinct impression.

What is significant is that these comments stress the teacher student relationship as well as the process of learning. The comments on Metrick concludes by saying "Metrick is truly an amazing teacher. Let's hope a year in academia doesn't take its toll" (Harvard Confidential 1995 p 122)

The range of ways of developing critical thinking can be brought together and effectively managed with a knowledge of the pedagogic creativity motivation and feedback provides to the student. The types of motivation and their possible combination are rich areas of teacher and student development.

One of the main outcomes of this study on my own development has been the awareness of the range of techniques and applications that are available to assist in the managing of the curriculum. The Boston University dissertations, amongst others, have served as a motivator to my developing professional practice.

The learner of the 21st century needs to develop new skills. Gluck makes the point that :

The three Rs - reading. 'riting and 'rithmetic - are no longer enough. We must add the three Cs - computing, critical thinking and capacity for change. (Gluck 1992 in Peters 1994 p 259)

What this means is that the teacher must manage education, especially if we accept that "The purpose of educational management is to facilitate student learning and in doing so to serve as a model for the learning process" (West-Burnham et al 1995 p 8) Motivation of students is important to learning. This strongly suggests that managing the classroom, almost in the sense of the chair of a meeting is critical to the development of student learning. It begs the question of whether management in education is the management structure in the hierarchy or does it mean that all teachers manage? The answer must be that both manage but in different environments. The teacher uses management techniques in the classroom. These include motivation, leadership, group interaction and many more of the skills of management. The teacher also has to have the skills of a good chair to ensure that all students have equal treatment. The quiet student must be given the same encouragement and the more vocal student. All this suggests that the teacher is herself subject to personal development and learning in the manner suggested by constructive theories of learning.

Ramsden (1992 p 114 - 118) speaks of making learning possible as a strategic objective of the classroom teacher. Bass goes a long way to summing up this approach to transforming learning in the classroom in saying that the teacher should provide ::

   Charisma : vision and sense of mission

   Inspiration : communicates high expectations

   Intellectual inspiration : promotes intelligence, rationality and problem solving

   Individual consideration : personal attention, treats students   individually, coaches and advises.

   (Bass 1990 p 22)

This study set out to see improvement in my practice in three areas : firstly the improvement on practice; secondly, the improvement of the understanding of the practice by its practitioners, and thirdly, the improvement of the situation in which the practice took place. (Carr and Kemmis 1986 p 165) It has provided understanding that in turn has led to both improvement of the situation and in the development of my practice.

Postscript

Linda Darling-Hammond in an article on Teacher Learning that Supports Student Learning asked the question what do teachers need to know to teach all students according to today's standards? If I had known, in 1996, when I commenced studying this aspect of education, what I know now, I would have used Darling-Hammond's words to describe the objective of the study. What Darling-Hammond says is :

What Teachers Need to Know

First, teachers need to understand subject matter deeply and flexibly, so that they can help students create useful cognitive maps, relate ideas to one another, and address misconceptions. Teachers need to see how ideas connect across fields and to everyday life. This kind of understanding provides a foundation for pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman 1987), which enables teachers to make ideas accessible to others. The audience is also key: A skillful teacher figures out what students know and believe about a topic and how learners are likely to "hook into" new ideas.

Interpreting learners' statements and actions and shaping productive experiences for them require knowledge of child and adolescent development and an understanding of how to support growth in various domains--cognitive, social, physical, and emotional. Teaching in ways that connect with students also requires an understanding of differences that may arise from culture, family experiences, developed intelligences, and approaches to learning. Teachers need to be able to inquire sensitively, listen carefully, and look thoughtfully at student work, as well as to structure situations in which students write and talk about their experiences. This builds a foundation of pedagogical learner knowledge (Grimmett and MacKinnon 1992). Motivating students requires an understanding of what individual students believe about themselves, what they care about, and what tasks are likely to give them enough success to encourage them to work hard to learn.

Teachers need several kinds of knowledge about learning. Teachers need to think about what it means to learn different kinds of material for different purposes and how to decide which kinds of learning are most necessary in different contexts. Teachers must be able to use different teaching strategies to accomplish various goals and many means for evaluating students' knowledge and assessing students' approaches to learning. Teachers must be able to identify the strengths of different learners while addressing their weaknesses. In addition, all teachers need tools to work with students who have specific learning disabilities or needs. And because language is the gateway to learning, teachers must understand how students acquire language, so that they can build language skills and create accessible learning experiences.

Teachers need to know about curriculum resources and technologies to connect their students with sources of information and knowledge that allow them to explore ideas, acquire and synthesize information, and frame and solve problems. And teachers need to know about collaboration--how to structure interactions among students so that more powerful shared learning can occur; how to collaborate with other teachers; and how to work with parents to learn more about their children and to shape supportive experiences at school and home.

Finally, teachers need to be able to analyze and reflect on their practice, to assess the effects of their teaching, and to refine and improve their instruction. They must continously evaluate what students are thinking and understanding and reshape their plans to take account of what they've discovered (Darling_Hammond 1998 pp 1 - 2)

Copyright Stephen John September 1998 (Updated October 2003)

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