Promoting Student Engagement Through a Critical Thinking ...· thinking critically and reflecting

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Text of Promoting Student Engagement Through a Critical Thinking ...· thinking critically and reflecting

  • PromotingStudentEngagementThroughaCriticalThinkingFrameworkinthe

    ElementaryClassroom

    By:

    CarlySazant

    AresearchpapersubmittedinconformitywiththerequirementsForthedegreeofMasterofTeaching

    DepartmentofCurriculum,TeachingandLearningOntarioInstituteforStudiesinEducationoftheUniversityofToronto

    CopyrightbyCarlySazant,April2014

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 2

    Abstract

    Studentengagementisanimportantpredecessorofstudentachievement

    andsocialandcognitivedevelopment;however,studiesoverthepasttwodecades

    showthattherehasbeenaseverelackofstudentengagementinschools.This

    qualitativeresearchstudyexplorestheeffectsthatacriticalthinkingmethodology

    hasonstudentengagementintheclassroomsetting.Creatingaclassroom

    environmentinwhichstudentsareencouragedtomakemeaningfulconnections,by

    thinkingcriticallyandreflectingupontheirexperiencesmayhelpengagetodays

    younglearners.Dataforthisstudywascollectedthroughtwosemistructured,one

    ononeinterviewswithaclassroomteacherandschooladministratorwithina

    schoolboardintheGreaterTorontoArea.Thefindingsofthisresearchsuggestthat:

    1)criticalthinkinghasapositiveeffectonstudentandteacherengagementwithin

    theclassroom;2)criticalthinkinghasotherbenefits,includingapositiveimpacton

    studentachievementandstudentshigherorderthinkingskills,andhelpsmeetthe

    needsofalltypesoflearners;3)effectivestrategiesmustbeusedtoinviteand

    promotecriticalthinking;4)therearechallengestoimplementingcriticalthinking

    inaclassroom;5)teachersandadministratorsneedsupportinordertosuccessfully

    integratecriticalthinkingintoteachingpractices.

    KeyWords:CriticalThinking,StudentEngagement,CriticalChallenges

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 3

    Acknowledgements

    Iwouldliketotakethisopportunitytothankanumberofindividualswhohave

    supportedmethroughoutmyresearchstudyandmyjourneytobecomingan

    educator.Firstly,Iextendmysincerestthankstomyresearchsupervisor,Garfield

    GiniNewman,foreducatingmeonthetopicofCriticalThinkingandsupportingme

    throughoutthisentireprocess.Yourknowledgeandvaluableinsighthavetruly

    beenaninspiration.Iwouldalsoliketothankmycourseinstructor,Dr.Susan

    Schwartz,forherconstantsupport,feedbackandgenerosity.Iamsothankfulto

    havehadyoubymysidethroughoutthisprocess,andtoknowthatyouwerealways

    onlyanemailawayprovidedmewithaconstantsenseofcomfort.Yourloveof

    teachingandyourdevotiontoyourstudentsisinspiringandwillcontinueto

    motivatemethroughoutmyteachingcareer.Tomyresearchparticipantsthis

    researchstudywouldnothavebeenpossiblewithoutyou.Thankyousomuchfor

    sharingyourtime,expertiseandmanyexperienceswithme.Next,Iwouldliketo

    extendaheartfeltthankyoutomyclassmatesforremainingasteadysourceof

    supportformeoverthepasttwoyears.Youhavebeentherethroughthelaughter

    andthetears,andhaveshownmethetrueimportancethatrelationshipsand

    collaborationholdwithintheteachingprofession.Finally,Iowemydeepest

    gratitudetomyfamilyfortheirendlessloveandencouragement.Youhavealways

    advisedmetofollowmydreamsandIthankyouforhelpingmerealizemyfull

    potentialasastudentandasaneducator.

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 4

    TableofContents

    Chapter Page

    Abstract 2

    Acknowledgements 3

    1.INTRODUCTION 7

    IntroductiontotheResearchStudy 7

    PurposeoftheStudy 8

    ResearchTopic/Questions 8

    BackgroundoftheResearcher 9

    Overview 10

    2.LITERATUREREVIEW ` 11

    DefinitionofTerms 11

    TheAbsenceofStudentEngagementWithinElementaryClassrooms 12

    UsingCriticalThinkingStrategiestoEngageStudents 12

    PreparingStudentsForTheWorkforce 13

    BarrierstoCriticalThinking 15

    HowtoImplementCriticalThinkingStrategiesinTheClassroom 16

    3.METHODOLOGY 19

    Procedure 19

    InstrumentsofDataCollection 19

    Participants 20

    DataCollectionandAnalysis 21

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 5

    EthicalReviewProcedures 22

    Limitations 23

    4.FINDINGS 24

    PositiveEffectonStudentandTeacherEngagement 26

    StudentEngagement 26

    TeacherEngagement 27

    OtherBenefitsofCriticalThinking 28

    StudentAchievement 28

    HigherorderThinking 29

    MeetstheNeedsofallTypesofLearners 31

    EffectiveStrategiesUsedtoPromoteCriticalThinking 31

    EffectiveQuestioningandCriticalChallenges 32

    ClassroomSetup 33

    ChallengestoCriticalThinking 34

    TeacherUnwillingnessandLackofTraining 34

    StudentHesitations 36

    ParentConcerns 36

    TeacherSupports 37

    5.DISCUSSION 40

    Reflections 40

    ImplicationsandRecommendations 42

    LimitationsandFurtherStudy 45

    Conclusion 46

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 6

    REFERENCES 47

    APPENDICES 50

    AppendixA:LetterofConsentforInterview 50

    AppendixB:InterviewQuestions 52

    Interview#1 52

    Interview#2 54

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 7

    Howcantheuseofcriticalthinkingmethodologyaffectstudentengagementinelementaryclassrooms?

    Chapter1:INTRODUCTION

    IntroductiontotheResearchStudy

    Studentengagementisanimportantpredecessorofstudentachievement

    andsocialandcognitivedevelopment;however,thelackofstudentengagementin

    schoolshasbecomeanepidemicissuethathasbeengrowingforthepasttwo

    decades(Marks,2000).Studentshavebeencheckingoutofschoolbecausetheyare

    nolongerinterestedinwhatschoolsareoffering.YazzieMintz(2006)reportedthat

    50%ofstudentsareboredeverydayinclassandapproximately17%ofstudents

    areboredineveryclasstheyattend.Amere2%ofyoutheachyearreportnever

    beingbored.Withthedramasofreallife,cellphones,electronicgames,andinthe

    ageoftheInternet,howcaneducatorscapturestudentsattentionandprovidean

    engaginglearningenvironment(Caram&Davis,2005)?

    Studentsengageinlearningwhentheyareintrinsicallymotivatedby

    curiosity,interestandenjoymentorwhentheywanttofulfillpersonalgoals(as

    citedinCaram&Davis,2005).Whenfacedwithlearningthattheyperceiveas

    meaningful,studentsbecomeincreasinglyeagertoextendtheirknowledge.Mutual

    inquiry,theinvestigationofopenendedquestionsandhavingateachertakeonthe

    roleoffacilitator,areimportantelementsinvolvedinfosteringsuccessfulstudent

    engagement(Caram&Davis,2005).

    Fredricks,Blumenfeld&Paris(2004)suggestthatthislackofstudent

    engagementisbecomingapparentatanalarmingtime.Todaysfastpaced,global

    economyrequiresworkerswhoarenotonlyeducatedintheirfield,butarealsoable

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 8

    tocreateandevaluatenewinformation,solveproblemsandthinkcritically.Creating

    aclassroomenvironmentinwhichstudentsareencouragedtomakemeaningful

    connections,bythinkingcriticallyandreflectingupontheirexperiencesmayhelp

    engagetheyounglearnersintodaysclassrooms.

    PurposeoftheStudy

    Throughmyresearch,Iwanttounderstandhowteachingthroughacritical

    thinkingframeworkaffectsstudentengagementinelementaryclassrooms.Iwantto

    deeplyexploreeducatorspersonalexperiencesandbeliefsregardingcritical

    thinking,anddiscoverthetruebenefitsthatstemfromutilizingthismethodology

    withintheconfinesoftheclassroom.Thoughtheideaofcriticalthinkingis

    recognizedandvaluedbymany,itisinadequatelyaddressedintheclassroom(Case,

    2005).Ihopetolearnfromexperiencededucatorsanddeveloprecommendations

    forfuturepractice.Ifwewanttoprepareourstudentsforthe21stcentury,wemust

    starttoengagetheminrelevantandmeaningfullearning.

    ResearchQuestions

    Themainresearchquestionforthisstudyis:Howcantheuseofcriticalthinking

    methodologyaffectstudentengagementinelementaryclassrooms?

    Thesubquestionsare:

    1. Whatarethepossiblebenefitsforstudentlearningthatresultfromintegrating

    criticalthinkingintoclassroomteaching?

    2. Whatspecificintellectualtoolsandstrategiesdoteachersusetoencourage

    criticalthinkingandstudentengagementintheirclassrooms?

    3. Whatchallengesdoteachersfaceinencouragingcriticalthinkingintheir

  • CRITICALTHINKINGANDSTUDENTENGAGEMENT 9

    classrooms?

    4. Whatsupportdoteachershavetoimplementcriticalthinkingintheir

    classrooms?

    BackgroundoftheResearcher

    Asanelementaryschoolstudent,Irecallmostofmyteachersusing

    transmissionastheirprimarymethodofteaching,asopposedtoaconstructivist

    teachingapproachorstudentcentredapproach.Theteacherwouldstandatthe

    frontoftheclass,feedthestudentsrulesandinformationandthensitbackaswe

    solvedalistofquestionsfromthetextbook.Throughmyelementaryandsecondary

    schooling,IalwaysfeltasifIwasastudentwhofellthroughthecracksofthe

    educationsystem.Iwasdisengagedanduninterested,andmygradessufferedasa

    result.However,sinceIwasneverabehaviouralstudent,andourteacherstaughtat

    us,asopposedtowithus,mychallengeswentunnoticedfromyeartoyear.

    Whileatmyfirstpracticumschoolduringobservationweek,myassociate

    teacher(AT)introducedmetoanewwaveofteachingthatseveralschoolswithin

    theirschoolboardweretryingtoimplementforthe20122013schoolyear.Their

    focuswastoprovideeffective,engaginginstructionacrossthecurriculum,tohelp

    studentsdemonstrateanimprovementintheirabilitytothinkcritically.Iobserved

    myATassheaskedgradeonestudentsthoughtprovokingquestions,suchas:how

    didyougettothatanswer?,whatwasyourthoughtprocess?,andwhatareyour

    criteria(reasonswhy)?Shepresentedherstu