Research on Developing Critical Thinking
The ability to think critically is a major intellectual and practical skill. The point of critical thinking is to maximize the ability to think rationally. This type of critical reflection is essential to improving one’s cognitive skills. In turn, it can lead to increased overall intelligence and performance. However, if students are expected to successfully engage with the world around them, then they must first improve their critical thinking skills.
Critical thinking is a product of well developed higher order thinking skills. VanTassel-Baska, Bracken, Feng, and Brown reported findings of an increase in reading comprehension and reading assessment scores for students who had previously participated in extensive critical thinking exercises. Despite promising findings, it would appear that students, in general, are not progressing at a sufficient rate.
The initial driving question behind my study was: What is the impact of guided practice of textual analysis with English learners? English Learners, like all students, are required to participate in a range of assessments such as CAASPP and Reading Inventories, which require students to demonstrate not only readings skills, but critical thinking as well. Research shows that English Learners as well as as native speakers have consistently struggled in this area specifically. According to NAEP data, across all groups, only slightly more than 50% of students are meeting standards. Clearly, more must be done if we are to improve our national scores, and more importantly, produce intellectual and analytical citizens. CAASPP data further confirms a need for reevaluating our approach to developing higher order thinking.
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