Research has failed to prove the effectiveness of programs especially devised to improve critical thinking (higher-order) skills.
In the second part of this article, the various proposals for instructional formats for critical thinking are discussed from a social constructivist point of view.
Critical Thinking as a Citizenship Competence: Teaching Strategies Learning and Instruction, Vol. First empirical research into the question which instructional strategies are 'effective' in enhancing critical thinking is reviewed.
Characteristics of instruction that are assumed to enhance critical thinking are: paying attention to the development of the epistemological beliefs of students; promoting active learning; a problem-based curriculum; stimulating interaction between students; and learning on the basis of real-life situations.
Research Findings Research support for the use of real-life situations (or simulations of these) in classroom instruction continues to increase as the technologies for bringing real-life situations into the classroom become more available to teachers.
The leading research group in the United States using anchored instruction to increase students' problem solving skills is located at Vanderbilt University. For example, many students who have studied mathematics are unable to apply it in solving problems in chemistry and physics.Many fail to associate the variable "x" used extensively in algebra problems to letters standing for variable names in physics problems.Even within the science course itself, many students fail to recognize that the topics they are studying apply to real-life situations.One reason proposed for this lack of transfer is that problem solving and learning have not taken place in real-world contexts.The use of videotapes, DVDs and CD-ROMs depicting real-life situations or simulations of these (either alone or in tandem with computers) makes it much more feasible to teach using real-world situations.DVDs using simulations of real-world problem-solving situations, developed to improve students' mathematics and science problem-solving skills, have been used successfully by middle school students at several different sites.Although results indicate no difference in standardized test achievement, this finding was considered to be positive because time normally spent on conventional instruction was reduced to allow for the use of the problem-solving videodiscs, which did have a positive effect on students' problem-solving skills. Describes problem-based learning (PBL) as a science teaching approach that combines both school and real-world science.Explains how to design an ill-structured problem considering local, state, and national standards; finding and preparing data; implementing PBL in the classroom; and its benefits and student assessment.ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Journal Articles - To access most of these Journal Articles, you must be a student, faculty or staff member at an Ohio LINK affiliated institution.Access to Ohio LINK may be available to Ohioans through their local, public, or school libraries. This paper briefly examines the literature on (a) problem-based learning (PBL), including constructivism and problem solving, and (b) learning in context, including mediation, embodiment, distribution, and situatedness.