ERG SES G 14, Research in Higher Education
In today's post-contemporary society, the ability to think critically is in increasing demand. The world is changing to a more accelerated speed (Acharya, 2018), the media has been introduced with strength in all social strata (del Castillo & Sánchez, 2017), and the information available to the citizen is in an incessant modification, expansion, and rectification (Sabino, 2014). The excess of information is becoming a problem, not only for the lack of clarity, accuracy, logic or truthfulness that it may have but also for the possible mis using. It has been demonstrated that an important part of it serves the interests of individuals who, sometimes, have unethical and/or unfavourable benefits for citizens (Enderlein, 2017). A clear example is the media or advertising, whose main aim, far to promote a democratic ethos, is to obtain economic benefits (Golovina, 2014). Therefore, in this context, it is essential to place Critical Thinking (CT) at the heart of the culture to transform society into a community of thinkers.
The construct of CT is a laborious product of thought to define and understand, partly due to the variety of definitions that educators, philosophers, and psychologists have proffered to the field (Chen, 2017). Nevertheless, the numerous definitions of CT have exhibited a confluent view of an integration of skills, attitudes, values, and habits (Ku, Lee, & Elis, 2017). Or, what it is the same, a synthesis of skills and dispositions. CT skills involve a set of cognitive capacities such as analysing arguments, making inferences using inductive and deductive reasoning, judging or evaluating, and making decisions (Halpern, 2006; Alfaro-LeFevre, 2009; Martín & Barrientos, 2010; Roca, 2013). On the other hand, dispositions are understood as attitudes or habits of the mind and encompass intellectual perseverance, humility, empathy, inquisitiveness, and autonomy (Paul & Elder, 2006; Facione, 2007). Based on this, CT could be defined as a metacognitive process that provides us with the tools of logic and proper intellectual attributes that guide our ideas, beliefs, and actions (Chen, 2017; Ku, Lee, & Elis, 2017).
From this perspective, educating in CT implies enabling life-long learners to process information, evaluate ideas, and reason by means of arguments (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005).
Regarding the college community, the cultivation of CT becomes one of the most valued learning goals (Pithers & Soden, 2000; Gellin, 2003). Despite recent syntheses on CT and college students, it remains unknown whether this thought increases linearly through the college years (Pascarella & Terenzini, 2005) or if its main development occurs just in the first years (Aurum & Roska, 2011). Furthermore, the role of CT in students’ achievement, sex or area of knowledge have yet to be explored meta-analytically. For what it has been argued, in the research study that is presented, framed in the thematic area of the psychological aspects of education and the quality and evaluation of educational institutions, the implication and relevance of CT within college education is highlighted.
The study is guided by one main aim: to analyse and compare CT skills and dispositions among Spanish undergraduate students. From this aim, several specific objectives are arisen: (1) to examine the different ways in which CT has been defined by researchers; (2) to elaborate a definition of the CT based on the agreement among the philosophical, cognitive psychological, and educational approaches; (3) to explore how CT can be developed in the context of college education; (4) to design and develop an assessment tool to measure college students’ CT skills and dispositions, and (5) to analyse differences of CT skills and dispositions depending on the students’ achievement, sex, area of knowledge, and/or academic course.
The methodological orientation of this research is characterized by the nature of the study and by its intentionality. These two elements lead to the decision to establish the study from a mixed approach that seeks to understand, capture, and approach reality from a multi-method perspective that combines qualitative and quantitative variables. One of the basic purposes of using mixed methods in this research is the possibility to obtain a greater capacity for explanation through the two types of data, a more comprehensive approach to the studied phenomenon, and perspective to analyze the obtained information. LITERATURE SEARCH AND INCLUSION CRITERIA The first step in conducting the research synthesis is to exhaustively search the literature for studies on critical thinking and college students. This research is done mainly through the following electronic databases: ERIC, PsycINFO, and ProQuest Dissertation & Theses Global. In addition, there are conducted a number of hand searchers in community college journals and an ancestry search, examining the reference list to uncover any other potentially pertinent studies. There are chosen a broad set of keyword terms because researchers may not explicitly mention or describe critical thinking, but the article or articles could be very useful for this exploration. Some of the searched keywords are: critical thinking, creative thinking, metacognition, problem-solving, decision making, and community college. QUALITATIVE IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS Once most of the articles are gathered is used the in-depth interview in order to collect more high-quality information. These in-depth interviews are conducted with Critical Thinking national and international experts, college teachers, and college students. Finally, it is used the Grounded theory for the purpose of developing a theory that is grounded in data systematically gathered and analysed. ASSESSMENT TOOL For the purpose of measuring Spanish college students’ critical thinking, it is designed an instrument based on some of the most common measurements of critical thinking skills and/or dispositions: Cornell Critical Thinking Test (Ennis, Millman, & Tomko, 1985), Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 1993), California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (Facione, Facione, & Giancarlo, 2001), and PENCRISAL critical thinking test (Saiz & Rivas, 2008). Once the instrument obtains a substantial content validity (α>.8) it is filled by the sample (2000 Spanish college students). Next, it is calculated its instrument reliability and it goes through an exploratory and a confirmatory factor analysis. Finally, descriptive statistics and statistical differences among the groups are studied.
The CT does not respond to a unique concept. There are multiple definitions of CT with a different subtle difference between authors and disciplines. However, it should be noted that, in one way or another, they end up complementing each other or, at least, coinciding fundamentally with their definitions (Vivas, 2003). One thing they agree is that CT is not just about skills but the union of them and of mental dispositions. In fact, the activation of cognitive abilities together with the dispositions is translated into the behavioural component of the CT (Valenzuela & Nieto, 2008). Regarding college studies, the development of CT must be present throughout the training process because of its ability to transfer to new and different situations. Hitherto, the results suggest that college students have characteristics that define the CT and, as they progress their studies, even without specific instruction (Huber & Kuncel, 2016), they develop CT consciously and progressively (Pérez, Herrera, & Ferrer, 2017). Nevertheless, when certain teaching methods are applied, such as: procedural evaluation (Barriga & Díaz Barriga, 2001), the controversy (Beltrán & Pérez, 1996, cited by López Aymes, 2012), the research community (Cebas & García-Moriyón, 2004), or experiential learning (Heinrich, Habron, Johson & Goralnik, 2015), the development of students’ CT is faster and higher. Heretofore, the results also suggest that certain degrees or areas of knowledge produce higher PC gains than others (Huber & Kuncel, 2016). For example, students who are studying Philosophy and Mathematics have higher levels of CT than their counterparts due to the nature of the studies (Giménez & Manuel, 2016; Rojas, 2016; Sumarna & Herman, 2017). Moreover, the results also suggest that men have lower CT skills and abilities and there is a positive relationship between critical thinking and college student academic achievement (Fong, Kim, Davis, Hoand, & Kim, 2017).
Acharya, K. P. (2018). Exploring Critical Thinking For Secondary Level Students In Chemistry: From Insight To Practice. Journal of Advanced College of Engineering and Management, 3, 31-39. Retrieved from https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/JACEM/article/view/18812/15319 Alfaro-LeFevre, R. (2009). Critical thinking and clinical judgment: A practical approach to outcome-focused thinking. Saunders. eBook ISBN: 9781437727777 Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on college campuses. University of Chicago Press. ISBN-13: 978-0-226-02855-2 del Castillo, J. A. G., & Sánchez, C. L. (2017). Medios de comunicación, publicidad y adicciones. EDAF. ISBN: 978-84-414-3694-7 Chen, L. (2017). Understanding critical thinking in Chinese sociocultural contexts: A case study in a Chinese college. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 24, 140-151. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tsc.2017.02.015 Enderlein, S. B. (2017). Tecnoconocimento: Las TIC como herramientas de la comunicación. Escritos en la Facultad, 39. ISSN: 16692306 Facione, P. A., & Facione, N. C. (2007). Talking critical thinking. Change: The magazine of higher learning, 39(2), 38-45.ISNN: 0009-1383 Gellin, A. (2003). The effect of undergraduate student involvement on critical thinking: A meta-analysis of the literature 1991-2000. Journal of college student development, 44(6), 746-762. doi: 10.1353/csd.2003.0066 Golovina, N. (2014). La comunicación masiva y el comportamiento del consumidor. Orbis. Revista Científica Ciencias Humanas, 10(28). ISSN: 1856-159 Halpern, D. (2006). Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment Using Everyday Situations: Background and scoring standards (2º Report). Unpublished manuscript. Claremont, CA: Claremont McKenna College. Ku, K. Y., Lee, V. S., & Ellis, J. W. (2017). Using artwork as problem context in generic critical thinking instruction: A strategy for thoughts. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 25, 53-59. doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2017.07.001 Martín, A. V., & Barrientos, Ó. (2010). Los dominios del pensamiento crítico: una lectura desde la teoría de la educación. Teoría de la Educación, 21(2), 20. ISSN: 1130-3743 Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2006). Critical thinking competency standards. Foundation for Critical Thinking. Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org/files/SAM_Comp%20Stand_07opt.pdf Pithers, R. T., & Soden, R. (2000). Critical thinking in education: A review. Educational research, 42(3), 237-249. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/001318800440579 Roca, J. (2013). El desarrollo del Pensamiento Crítico a través de diferentes metodologías docentes en el Grado de Enfermería. Tesis doctoral, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Bellaterra, España. Retrieved from https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/tesis?codigo=84936 Sabino, C. (2014). El proceso de investigación. Editorial Episteme. ISBN: 978-9929677074
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