Critical thinking is increasingly regarded as a vital goal for higher education and a necessary skill for employment in an information rich, rapidly changing workplace. Research, however, suggests that undergraduates do not engage in critical discourse to the extent and sophistication desired. This study focuses on creating guidance and tools to help instructors promote and obtain evidence-based critical discourse in their classrooms through online problem-based scenarios.
An experimental design was used to compare the impact of facilitator scaffolding, grounded in the processes of articulation and feedback on critical thinking skills and participation. The study also aimed at examining the relationship between the latter variables and individual differences. Finally, this research explored the development of individual critical thinking skills across the three scenario tasks.
Two Pearson correlation analyses revealed a significant positive relationship between level of participation and the quantity of critical thinking, but none with the proportion of critical thinking. Second, to test the impact of facilitator scaffolding on level of participation, quantity of critical thinking and proportion of critical thinking, hierarchical and regular analyses of variance were conducted with each of the former three variables as the dependent variables. The results were significant for proportion of critical thinking. Third, a qualitative analysis, performed to examine critical thinking across tasks suggested that critical thinking skills varied for individual members within each group across the three tasks. However, most of the participants manifested higher proportions of critical thinking at the group report stage than the discussion stage. Fourth, two multiple regression analyses, were conducted to examine the relationship between quantity of critical thinking, proportion of critical thinking and five individual difference factors. Both analyses failed to reach significance. Additionally, the findings highlighted the possible importance of contextual factors, task demands, attitude and scaffolding in influencing participation and critical thinking in problem-based scenarios in online environments.
|Advisor:||Duffy, Thomas M.|
|Commitee:||Cunningham, Donald, Dennis, Alan, Herring, Susan|
|Department:||School of Education|
|School Location:||United States -- Indiana|
|Source:||DAI-A 69/08, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Critical thinking, Online, Participation, Problem-solving, Scaffolding, Scenarios, discussion|
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