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Relationship between instructors' beliefs and teaching practices for critical thinking in higher education

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Relationship between instructors' beliefs and teaching practices for critical thinking in higher education

Seidman, Hope (2004) Relationship between instructors' beliefs and teaching practices for critical thinking in higher education. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Concerns about the lack of students' critical thinking (CT) skills and instructors' inability to foster them were the driving force behind this study. The purpose of this multiple case study was to examine instructors' beliefs about CT and how they related to teaching practices. An American private college was used as the context for investigation due to the institution's efforts to improve the quality of teaching and learning as well as its commitment to CT outcomes. Three "exemplary" instructors teaching business, education and computer courses were selected for in-depth investigation along with one instructor teaching a stand-alone course in CT. Qualitative measures were used to collect data about instructional practices of each participant in the context of one course through interviews, classroom observations and course document reviews. Particular attention was paid to course design, instructional strategies and assessment measures intended to stimulate student thinking. Students were also surveyed to elicit their perceptions of the course related to CT. Instructors' beliefs were explored through interview methods and standardized measurement tools. Findings suggested overall that each participant's espoused teaching practices were consistent with their actual teaching practices. Beliefs about CT and related topics also appeared to be compatible with their instructional methods. Across disciplines, findings suggested there were both similarities and differences in beliefs and practices. Specifically, instructors conceptualized CT in different ways and focused on various CT skills required for their respective disciplines. In practice, courses included active learning strategies, ongoing writing assignments and essay exams. The instructor teaching CT explicitly held the narrowest perspective on CT and represented the largest departure in teaching methods. Some of the common beliefs held by the four participants teaching for CT were the following: (a) CT develops over time with practice and experience; (b) in-class discussion is essential to developing CT; (c) fostering thinking skills is as important as content coverage; and (d) personal discipline is highly conducive to fostering CT. Implications for faculty development and future research are discussed.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Seidman, Hope
Pagination:xiii, 342 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Education
Date:2004
Thesis Supervisor(s):Shaw, Steven
ID Code:7910
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:10
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:10
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