Teaching Strategies for Critical Thinking: Preparing 21st Century Learners for Life (Phase I)

AUTHOR/S: Marinar F. Castro

DATE COMPLETED: February 26, 2019

KEYWORDS:critical thinking, teaching strategies, 21st century teaching and learning, technology use


This paper reports on an exploratory and descriptive qualitative study conducted at the Ateneo de Davao University Junior High School (ADDU JHS). The study aimed to look into the strategies employed by the school to promote critical thinking in class. Specifically, it sought to find out the following: (1) the understanding of the administrators, teachers, and students of the meaning of critical thinking skill, the importance of developing the students’ critical thinking, and the role of questions in developing critical thinking skills; and (2) their perceptions on the teaching strategies frequently used by teachers to promote critical thinking in class; the use of technology to engage students in critical thinking, the facilitating factors that help teachers promote critical thinking in class, the hindering factors for teachers to successfully create a critical thinking class; and the class activities that do not help promote critical thinking.

This study utilized the Focus Group Discussion (FGD) as data gathering tool. Thematic analysis was used for the treatment of the data. The respondents of this study are the students, teachers and administrators of the ADDU JHS.

Results reveal that although respondents have varied definition of critical thinking skill, their understanding leans toward higher order thinking skill. They see the importance of forming students to become critical thinkers in order to empower them to cope with the demands of their school life but more importantly, to prepare them for life in the 21st century global society. They agree that the use of questioning technique as a pedagogy helps in fostering critical thinking. Teachers use the different teaching strategies and available technology to engage students in active learning and develop their critical thinking skills. School’s support and positive disposition of both teachers and students toward critical thinking help teachers in fostering critical thinking in class. However, lack of a single critical thinking framework that’s understood by administrators, faculty and students; time constraints; and unhealthy disposition (eg. toward change, critical thinking, etc) are perceived to be the factors that hinder teachers from successfully developing a critical thinking class. Moreover, respondents perceived that class activities that tap only the low-level thinking skills and do not engage students in active learning, do not promote critical thinking.

The researcher recommends that the school explore the possibility of (1) formulating a single critical thinking framework that is well-understood by the administrators, teachers and students and is implemented in all subject areas; (2) planning and organizing professional development opportunities for faculty for them to enhance their capacity and have a common language in the critical thinking instructional strategies, technology and assessment techniques; (3) integrating the key dispositions of good critical thinker in assessing the students’ performance in formative and summative activities; and (4) including in the supervision plan the SAC’s critical thinking mentoring strategy. Also, further studies be conducted to (1) find out evidences of how critical thinking is learned, practiced and evaluated in the school; (2) assess the effectiveness of the critical thinking framework used; and (3) find out the needs of academic supervisors in mentoring their teachers on how to develop the students’ critical thinking skills.

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