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Developing Discipline-Based Critical Thinking Skills via Use of Interactive Technologies

This article provides a rationale for incorporating the development of critical thinking skills into the online learning environment. The author also presents possibilities for building these cognitive skills into online classes.
Author(s): 
A. Kok
Published: 
2008
Resource Type: 
Research
Number of Pages: 
10
Abstract: 

This article provides a rationale for incorporating the development of critical thinking skills into the online learning environment. The author also presents possibilities for building these cognitive skills into online classes. She maintains that incorporating critical thinking skills is a necessary component of learning; these skills assist learners to evaluate and link the abundance of information and ideas that is available via information communication technologies (ICTs). Kok starts by reviewing research on critical thinking and learning principles that apply to the teaching of these skills (accompanied by tables that delineate the information). She ends by offering activities that would be suitable to the online learning setting. It should be noted that this article is written for a college setting, however, the content and principles, with adaptations, can be applied to a variety of adult learning settings.

What the Experts Say: 

This article primarily focuses on describing what critical thinking isand suggests principles and strategies in teaching critical thinking skills.The main point of the article is that principles of teaching which apply to critical thinking can be incorporated into the use of online and social networking technologies (bulletin boards, wikis, hypertext), and that if the principles are applied, it may enhance critical thinking skills. Critical thinking should be taught with students working collaboratively in inquiry-based instruction with real-world applications.  The author’s argument is based around a constructivist model.  Several key elements of constructivist theory are stressed— transfer of knowledge, scaffolding, contextualized learning, collaborative learning, and reflection.  The principles and teaching and learning are all solidly based and suggestions are made as to how information communication technologies can be used to foster critical thinking.

This article may be of particular use to GED teachers preparing students for the social studies section of the test.  It also has some general interest to teachers who are currently involved with efforts to help students transfer to post-secondary institutions. The heavily theoretical bias does not easily translate into practice.  However, it does encourage adult education teachers to fully explore the discussion and chat features of on-line learning.  The author explicitly lays out strategies for each principle of learning. Inexperienced teachers would be stretched to use these in their classes.   For those who are inclined to dismiss online learning, it offers some interesting food for thought.

Table 1 provides the principles of teaching and learning which could be useful to an instructor at any level.  Table 2 offers principle-based strategies for teaching and learning.  Specific directions, marked with small blue boxes, follow the tables.  All of these points would be relevant to the adult educator.

The essay is more a theoretical discussion than a “how to do it” resource.  If the reader is not knowledgeable about new technologies, especially online technologies, further study would be necessary.  The reference list does provide a good starting point, especially in the discussion of critical thinking.

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