El Jabong The Critical Thinking

A Draft Statement of Principles


Goals


The goals of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction are as follows:

  1. To articulate, preserve, and foster high standards of research, scholarship, and instruction in critical thinking.

  2. To articulate the standards upon which "quality" thinking is based and the criteria by means of which thinking, and instruction for thinking, can be appropriately cultivated and assessed.

  3. To assess programs which claim to foster higher-order critical thinking.

  4. To disseminate information that aids educators and others in identifying quality critical thinking programs and approaches which ground the reform and restructuring of education on a systematic cultivation of disciplined universal and domain specific intellectual standards.

 

Founding Principles

  1. There is an intimate interrelation between knowledge and thinking.

  2. Knowing that something is so is not simply a matter of believing that it is so, it also entails being justified in that belief (Definition: Knowledge is justified true belief).

  3. There are general, as well as domain-specific, standards for the assessment of thinking.

  4. To achieve knowledge in any domain, it is essential to think critically.

  5. Critical thinking is based on articulable intellectual standards and hence is intrinsically subject to assessment by those standards.

  6. Criteria for the assessment of thinking in all domains are based on such general standards as: clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, significance, fairness, logic, depth, and breadth, evidentiary support, probability, predictive or explanatory power. These standards, and others, are embedded not only in the history of the intellectual and scientific communities, but also in the self-assessing behavior of reasonable persons in everyday life. It is possible to teach all subjects in such a way as to encourage the use of these intellectual standards in both professional and personal life.

  7. Instruction in critical thinking should increasingly enable students to assess both their own thought and action and that of others by reference, ultimately, to standards such as those above. It should lead progressively, in other words, to a disciplining of the mind and to a self-chosen commitment to a life of intellectual and moral integrity.

  8. Instruction in all subject domains should result in the progressive disciplining of the mind with respect to the capacity and disposition to think critically within that domain. Hence, instruction in science should lead to disciplined scientific thinking; instruction in mathematics should lead to disciplined mathematical thinking; instruction in history should lead to disciplined historical thinking; and in a parallel manner in every discipline and domain of learning.

  9. Disciplined thinking with respect to any subject involves the capacity on the part of the thinker to recognize, analyze, and assess the basic elements of thought: the purpose or goal of the thinking; the problem or question at issue; the frame of reference or points of view involved; assumptions made; central concepts and ideas at work; principles or theories used; evidence, data, or reasons advanced, claims made and conclusions drawn; inferences, reasoning, and lines of formulated thought; and implications and consequences involved.

  10. Critical reading, writing, speaking, and listening are academically essential modes of learning. To be developed generally they must be systematically cultivated in a variety of subject domains as well as with respect to interdisciplinary issues. Each are modes of thinking which are successful to the extent that they are disciplined and guided by critical thought and reflection.

  11. The earlier that children develop sensitivity to the standards of sound thought and reasoning, the more likely they will develop desirable intellectual habits and become open-minded persons responsive to reasonable persuasion.

  12. Education - in contrast to training, socialization, and indoctrination - implies a process conducive to critical thought and judgment. It is intrinsically committed to the cultivation of reasonability and rationality.

 

History and Philosophy

Critical thinking is integral to education and rationality and, as an idea, is traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practices — and the educational ideal implicit in them — of Socrates of ancient Greece. It has played a seminal role in the emergence of academic disciplines, as well as in the work of discovery of those who created them. Knowledge, in other words, has been discovered and verified by the distinguished critical thinkers of intellectual, scientific, and technological history. For the majority of the idea's history, however, critical thinking has been "buried," a conception in practice without an explicit name. Most recently, however, it has undergone something of an awakening, a coming-out, a first major social expression, signaling perhaps a turning-point in its history.

This awakening is correlated with a growing awareness that if education is to produce critical thinkers en mass, if it is to globally cultivate nations of skilled thinkers and innovators rather than a scattering of thinkers amid an army of intellectually unskilled, undisciplined, and uncreative followers, then a renaissance and re-emergence of the idea of critical thinking as integral to knowledge and understanding is necessary. Such a reawakening and recognition began first in the USA in the later 30's and then surfaced in various forms in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, reaching its most public expression in the 80's and 90's. Nevertheless, despite the scholarship surrounding the idea, despite the scattered efforts to embody it in educational practice, the educational and social acceptance of the idea is still in its infancy, still largely misunderstood, still existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality.

The members of the Council (some 8000 plus educators) are committed to high standards of excellence in critical thinking instruction across the curriculum at all levels of education. They are, therefore, concerned with the proliferation of poorly conceived "thinking skills" programs with their simplistic — often slick — approaches to both thinking and instruction. If the current emphasis on critical thinking is genuinely to take root, if it is to avoid the traditional fate of passing educational fad and "buzz word," it is essential that the deep obstacles to its embodiment in quality education be recognized for what they are, reasonable strategies to combat them formulated by leading scholars in the field, and successful communication of both obstacles and strategies to the educational and broader community achieved.

To this end, sound standards of the field of critical thinking research must be made accessible by clear articulation and the means set up for the large-scale dissemination of that articulation. The nature and challenge of critical thinking as an educational ideal must not be allowed to sink into the murky background of educational reform and restructuring efforts, while superficial ideas take its place. Critical thinking must assume its proper place at the hub of educational reform and restructuring. Critical thinking — and intellectual and social development generally — are not well-served when educational discussion is inundated with superficial conceptions of critical thinking and slick merchandizing of "thinking skills" programs while substantial — and necessarily more challenging conceptions and programs — are thrust aside, obscured, or ignored.

 

{"id":"80","title":"A Draft Statement of Principles","author":"Dr. Richard Paul, Chair, NCECT","content":"<p><span style=\"color: #000000;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></span></p>\r\n<p><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\"><br /> Goals </span></strong><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><br /> <br /> </span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">The goals of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction are as follows:<br /> </span></p>\r\n<ol>\r\n<li>To articulate, preserve, and foster high standards of research, scholarship, and instruction in critical thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To articulate the standards upon which \"quality\" thinking is based and the criteria by means of which thinking, and instruction for thinking, can be appropriately cultivated and assessed.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To assess programs which claim to foster higher-order critical thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To disseminate information that aids educators and others in identifying quality critical thinking programs and approaches which ground the reform and restructuring of education on a systematic cultivation of disciplined universal and domain specific intellectual standards. </li>\r\n</ol>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p><span style=\"color: #000000; font-family: arial, helvetica, sans-serif;\"><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\">Founding Principles</span></strong> </span></p>\r\n<ol>\r\n<li>There is an intimate interrelation between knowledge and thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Knowing that something is so is not simply a matter of believing that it is so, it also entails being justified in that belief (Definition: Knowledge is justified true belief).<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>There are general, as well as domain-specific, standards for the assessment of thinking.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>To achieve knowledge in any domain, it is essential to think critically.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Critical thinking is based on articulable intellectual standards and hence is intrinsically subject to assessment by those standards.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Criteria for the assessment of thinking in all domains are based on such general standards as: clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, significance, fairness, logic, depth, and breadth, evidentiary support, probability, predictive or explanatory power. These standards, and others, are embedded not only in the history of the intellectual and scientific communities, but also in the self-assessing behavior of reasonable persons in everyday life. It is possible to teach all subjects in such a way as to encourage the use of these intellectual standards in both professional and personal life.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Instruction in critical thinking should increasingly enable students to assess both their own thought and action and that of others by reference, ultimately, to standards such as those above. It should lead progressively, in other words, to a disciplining of the mind and to a self-chosen commitment to a life of intellectual and moral integrity.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Instruction in all subject domains should result in the progressive disciplining of the mind with respect to the capacity and disposition to think critically within that domain. Hence, instruction in science should lead to disciplined scientific thinking; instruction in mathematics should lead to disciplined mathematical thinking; instruction in history should lead to disciplined historical thinking; and in a parallel manner in every discipline and domain of learning.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Disciplined thinking with respect to any subject involves the capacity on the part of the thinker to recognize, analyze, and assess the basic elements of thought: the purpose or goal of the thinking; the problem or question at issue; the frame of reference or points of view involved; assumptions made; central concepts and ideas at work; principles or theories used; evidence, data, or reasons advanced, claims made and conclusions drawn; inferences, reasoning, and lines of formulated thought; and implications and consequences involved.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Critical reading, writing, speaking, and listening are academically essential modes of learning. To be developed generally they must be systematically cultivated in a variety of subject domains as well as with respect to interdisciplinary issues. Each are modes of thinking which are successful to the extent that they are disciplined and guided by critical thought and reflection.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>The earlier that children develop sensitivity to the standards of sound thought and reasoning, the more likely they will develop desirable intellectual habits and become open-minded persons responsive to reasonable persuasion.<br /> <br /> </li>\r\n<li>Education - in contrast to training, socialization, and indoctrination - implies a process conducive to critical thought and judgment. It is intrinsically committed to the cultivation of reasonability and rationality. </li>\r\n</ol>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<p><strong><span style=\"color: #000099;\"><span style=\"color: #000099;\">History and Philosophy<br /> </span><br /> </span></strong><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">Critical thinking is integral to education and rationality and, as an idea, is traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practices&nbsp;&mdash; and the educational ideal implicit in them&nbsp;&mdash; of Socrates of ancient Greece. It has played a seminal role in the emergence of academic disciplines, as well as in the work of discovery of those who created them. Knowledge, in other words, has been discovered and verified by the distinguished critical thinkers of intellectual, scientific, and technological history. For the majority of the idea's history, however, critical thinking has been \"buried,\" a conception in practice without an explicit name. Most recently, however, it has undergone something of an awakening, a coming-out, a first major social expression, signaling perhaps a turning-point in its history. <br /> <br /> This awakening is correlated with a growing awareness that if education is to produce critical thinkers en mass, if it is to globally cultivate nations of skilled thinkers and innovators rather than a scattering of thinkers amid an army of intellectually unskilled, undisciplined, and uncreative followers, then a renaissance and re-emergence of the idea of critical thinking as integral to knowledge and understanding is necessary. Such a reawakening and recognition began first in the USA in the later 30's and then surfaced in various forms in the 50's, 60's, and 70's, reaching its most public expression in the 80's and 90's. Nevertheless, despite the scholarship surrounding the idea, despite the scattered efforts to embody it in educational practice, the educational and social acceptance of the idea is still in its infancy, still largely misunderstood, still existing more in stereotype than in substance, more in image than in reality.<br /> <br /> The members of the Council (some 8000 plus educators) are committed to high standards of excellence in critical thinking instruction across the curriculum at all levels of education. They are, therefore, concerned with the proliferation of poorly conceived \"thinking skills\" programs with their simplistic&nbsp;&mdash; often slick&nbsp;&mdash; approaches to both thinking and instruction. If the current emphasis on critical thinking is genuinely to take root, if it is to avoid the traditional fate of passing educational fad and \"buzz word,\" it is essential that the deep obstacles to its embodiment in quality education be recognized for what they are, reasonable strategies to combat them formulated by leading scholars in the field, and successful communication of both obstacles and strategies to the educational and broader community achieved. <br /> <br /> To this end, sound standards of the field of critical thinking research must be made accessible by clear articulation and the means set up for the large-scale dissemination of that articulation. The nature and challenge of critical thinking as an educational ideal must not be allowed to sink into the murky background of educational reform and restructuring efforts, while superficial ideas take its place. Critical thinking must assume its proper place at the hub of educational reform and restructuring. Critical thinking&nbsp;&mdash; and intellectual and social development generally&nbsp;&mdash; are not well-served when educational discussion is inundated with superficial conceptions of critical thinking and slick merchandizing of \"thinking skills\" programs while substantial&nbsp;&mdash; and necessarily more challenging conceptions and programs&nbsp;&mdash; are thrust aside, obscured, or ignored. <br /> </span></span></p>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":[],"images":[]}


Elements of Thought

 
If teachers want their students to think well, they must help students understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. In other words, students must learn how to take thinking apart. All thinking is defined by the eight elements that make it up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking.  Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences.  We use concepts, ideas, and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.  Thinking, then, generates purposes, raises questions, uses information, utilizes concepts, makes inferences, makes assumptions, generates implications, and embodies a point of view. Students should understand that each of these structures has implications for the others. If they change their purpose or agenda, they change their questions and problems. If they change their questions and problems, they are forced to seek new information and data, and so on. Students should regularly use the following checklist for reasoning to improve their thinking in any discipline or subject area:

  1. All reasoning has a purpose.
    1. State your purpose clearly.
    2. Distinguish your purpose from related purposes.
    3. Check periodically to be sure you are still on target.
    4. Choose significant and realistic purposes.

  2. All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, solve some problem.
    1. State the question at issue clearly and precisely.
    2. Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope.
    3. Break the question into sub-questions.
    4. Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints.

  3. All reasoning is based on assumptions (beliefs you take for granted).
    1. Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable.
    2. Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.

  4. All reasoning is done from some point of view.
    1. Identify your point of view.
    2. Seek other points of view and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
    3. Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.

  5. All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence.
    1. Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have.
    2. Search for information that opposes your position, as well as information that supports it.
    3. Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue.
    4. Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.

  6. All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas.
    1. Identify key concepts and explain them clearly.
    2. Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts.
    3. Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.

  7. All reasoning contains inferences or interpretations by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data.
    1. Infer only what the evidence implies.
    2. Check inferences for their consistency with each other.
    3. Identify assumptions that lead you to your inferences.

  8. All reasoning leads somewhere or has implications and consequences.
    1. Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning.
    2. Search for negative as well as positive implications.
    3. Consider all possible consequences.

{"id":81,"title":"Elements of Thought","author":"Linda Elder and Richard Paul","content":"&lt;p&gt;&lt;span id=\"__mce\" style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;&amp;nbsp;&lt;br /&gt; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;If teachers want their students to think well, they must help students understand at least the rudiments of thought, the most basic structures out of which all thinking is made. In other words, students must learn how to take thinking apart. All thinking is defined by the eight elements that make it up. Eight basic structures are present in all thinking.&amp;nbsp; Whenever we think, we think for a purpose within a point of view based on assumptions leading to implications and consequences.&amp;nbsp; We use concepts, ideas, and theories to interpret data, facts, and experiences in order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues.&amp;nbsp; &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;Thinking, then, generates purposes, raises questions, uses information, utilizes concepts, makes inferences, makes assumptions, generates implications, and embodies a point of view. Students should understand that each of these structures has implications for the others. If they change their purpose or agenda, they change their questions and problems. If they change their questions and problems, they are forced to seek new information and data, and so on. &lt;/span&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;Students should regularly use the following checklist for reasoning to improve their thinking in any discipline or subject area: &lt;/span&gt;&lt;/p&gt;\r\n&lt;ol&gt;&lt;span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning has a &lt;strong&gt;purpose&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;State your purpose clearly. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Distinguish your purpose from related purposes. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Check periodically to be sure you are still on target. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Choose significant and realistic purposes.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some &lt;strong&gt;question&lt;/strong&gt;, solve some &lt;strong&gt;problem&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;State the question at issue clearly and precisely. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Express the question in several ways to clarify its meaning and scope. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Break the question into sub-questions. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Distinguish questions that have definitive answers from those that are a matter of opinion and from those that require consideration of multiple viewpoints.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is based on &lt;strong&gt;assumptions&lt;/strong&gt; (beliefs you take for granted). &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Clearly identify your assumptions and determine whether they are justifiable. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Consider how your assumptions are shaping your point of view.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is done from some &lt;strong&gt;point of view&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Identify your point of view. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Seek other points of view and identify their strengths and weaknesses. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Strive to be fair-minded in evaluating all points of view.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is based on &lt;strong&gt;data, information&lt;/strong&gt;, and &lt;strong&gt;evidence&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Restrict your claims to those supported by the data you have. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Search for information that opposes your position, as well as information that supports it. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Make sure that all information used is clear, accurate, and relevant to the question at issue. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Make sure you have gathered sufficient information.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, &lt;strong&gt;concepts&lt;/strong&gt; and &lt;strong&gt;ideas&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Identify key concepts and explain them clearly. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Consider alternative concepts or alternative definitions of concepts. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Make sure you are using concepts with care and precision.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning contains &lt;strong&gt;inferences&lt;/strong&gt; or &lt;strong&gt;interpretations&lt;/strong&gt; by which we draw &lt;strong&gt;conclusions&lt;/strong&gt; and give meaning to data. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Infer only what the evidence implies. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Check inferences for their consistency with each other. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Identify assumptions that lead you to your inferences.&lt;br /&gt; &lt;br /&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;All reasoning leads somewhere or has &lt;strong&gt;implications&lt;/strong&gt; and &lt;strong&gt;consequences&lt;/strong&gt;. &lt;ol type=\"a\"&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Trace the implications and consequences that follow from your reasoning. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Search for negative as well as positive implications. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;li&gt;Consider all possible consequences. &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/ol&gt; &lt;/li&gt;\r\n&lt;/span&gt;&lt;/ol&gt;\r\n&lt;p&gt;&lt;br style=\"clear: both;\" /&gt;&lt;/p&gt;","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":{},"images":{}}


Universal Intellectual Standards

 

Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help students learn them, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking, questions which hold students accountable for their thinking, questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves.

The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant:

 

  1. Clarity - Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example?

    Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don’t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question "What can be done about the education system in America?" is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the "problem" to be. A clearer question might be "What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?"

     

  2. Accuracy - Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true?

    A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in "Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight."

     

  3. Precision - Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?

    A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in "Jack is overweight." (We don’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.)

     

  4. Relevance - How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?

    A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the "effort" does not measure the quality of student learning, and when this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade.

     

  5. Depth - How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors?

    A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lacks depth). For example, the statement "Just say No," which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue.

     

  6. Breadth - Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of...?

    A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.)

     

  7. Logic - Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this and now you are saying that; how can both be true?

    When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is "logical." When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense, or does not "make sense," the combination is not logical.

{"id":"82","title":"Universal Intellectual Standards","author":"Linda Elder and Richard Paul","content":"<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">&nbsp;</span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></span></p>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span> </span> <span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> <span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. To help students learn them, teachers should pose questions which probe student thinking, questions which hold students accountable for their thinking, questions which, through consistent use by the teacher in the classroom, become internalized by students as questions they need to ask themselves.</span></span><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> <span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> </span></span></span></span></p>\r\n<p>The ultimate goal, then, is for these questions to become infused in the thinking of students, forming part of their inner voice, which then guides them to better and better reasoning. While there are a number of universal standards, the following are the most significant:</p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n<ol><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\">\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Clarity -</strong> Could you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way? Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> Clarity is the gateway standard. If a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or relevant. In fact, we cannot tell anything about it because we don&rsquo;t yet know what it is saying. For example, the question \"What can be done about the education system in America?\" is unclear. In order to address the question adequately, we would need to have a clearer understanding of what the person asking the question is considering the \"problem\" to be. A clearer question might be \"What can educators do to ensure that students learn the skills and abilities which help them function successfully on the job and in their daily decision-making?\" </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Accuracy -</strong> Is that really true? How could we check that? How could we find out if that is true?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be clear but not accurate, as in \"Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight.\" </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Precision -</strong> Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in \"Jack is overweight.\" (We don&rsquo;t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds.) </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Relevance -</strong> How is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue. For example, students often think that the amount of effort they put into a course should be used in raising their grade in a course. Often, however, the \"effort\" does not measure the quality of student learning, and <em>when this is so</em>, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade. </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Depth -</strong> How does your answer address the complexities in the question? How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing with the most significant factors?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A statement can be clear, accurate, precise, and relevant, but superficial (that is, lacks depth). For example, the statement \"Just say No,\" which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is clear, accurate, precise, and relevant. Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem of drug use among young people, superficially. It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue. </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Breadth -</strong> Do we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question? What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from the point of view of...?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> A line of reasoning may be clear accurate, precise, relevant, and deep, but lack breadth (as in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question.) </span></p>\r\n<p>&nbsp;</p>\r\n</li>\r\n<li><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"><strong>Logic -</strong> Does this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said? How does that follow? But before you implied this and now you are saying that; how can both be true?</span>\r\n<p><span style=\"font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif;\"> When we think, we bring a variety of thoughts together into some order. When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the thinking is \"logical.\" When the combination is not mutually supporting, is contradictory in some sense, or does not \"make sense,\" the combination is not logical.</span></p>\r\n</li>\r\n</span></span></ol>\r\n<p><br style=\"clear: both;\" /></p>","public_access":"1","public_downloads":"1","sku":"","files":[],"images":[]}


Valuable Intellectual Traits


Intellectual traits, or virtues, are interrelated intellectual habits that enable students to discipline and improve mental functioning. Teachers need to keep in mind that critical thinking can be used to serve two incompatible ends: self-centeredness or fair-mindedness. As students learn the basic intellectual skills that critical thinking entails, they can begin to use those skills in either a selfish or in a fair-minded way. For example, when students are taught how to recognize mistakes in reasoning (commonly called fallacies), most students readily see those mistakes in the reasoning of others but do not see them so readily in their own reasoning. Often they enjoy pointing out others' errors and develop some proficiency in making their opponents' thinking look bad, but they don't generally use their understanding of fallacies to analyze and assess their own reasoning. It is thus possible for students to develop as thinkers and yet not to develop as fair-minded thinkers. The best thinkers strive to be fair-minded, even when it means they have to give something up. They recognize that the mind is not naturally fair-minded, but selfish. And they understand that to be fair-minded, they must also develop particular traits of mind, traits such as intellectual humility, intellectual courage, intellectual empathy, intellectual integrity, intellectual perseverance, faith in reason, and fair-mindedness. Teachers should model and discuss the following intellectual traits as they help their students become fair-minded, ethical thinkers.  

  1. Intellectual Humility: Having a consciousness of the limits of one's knowledge, including a sensitivity to circumstances in which one's native egocentrism is likely to function self-deceptively; sensitivity to bias, prejudice and limitations of one's viewpoint. Intellectual humility depends on recognizing that one should not claim more than one actually knows. It does not imply spinelessness or submissiveness. It implies the lack of intellectual pretentiousness, boastfulness, or conceit, combined with insight into the logical foundations, or lack of such foundations, of one's beliefs.

  2. Intellectual Courage: Having a consciousness of the need to face and fairly address ideas, beliefs or viewpoints toward which we have strong negative emotions and to which we have not given a serious hearing. This courage is connected with the recognition that ideas considered dangerous or absurd are sometimes rationally justified (in whole or in part) and that conclusions and beliefs inculcated in us are sometimes false or misleading. To determine for ourselves which is which, we must not passively and uncritically "accept" what we have "learned." Intellectual courage comes into play here, because inevitably we will come to see some truth in some ideas considered dangerous and absurd, and distortion or falsity in some ideas strongly held in our social group. We need courage to be true to our own thinking in such circumstances. The penalties for non-conformity can be severe.

  3. Intellectual Empathy: Having a consciousness of the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others in order to genuinely understand them, which requires the consciousness of our egocentric tendency to identify truth with our immediate perceptions of long-standing thought or belief. This trait correlates with the ability to reconstruct accurately the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also correlates with the willingness to remember occasions when we were wrong in the past despite an intense conviction that we were right, and with the ability to imagine our being similarly deceived in a case-at-hand.

  4. Intellectual Integrity: Recognition of the need to be true to one's own thinking; to be consistent in the intellectual standards one applies; to hold one's self to the same rigorous standards of evidence and proof to which one holds one's antagonists; to practice what one advocates for others; and to honestly admit discrepancies and inconsistencies in one’s own thought and action.

  5. Intellectual Perseverance: Having a consciousness of the need to use intellectual insights and truths in spite of difficulties, obstacles, and frustrations; firm adherence to rational principles despite the irrational opposition of others; a sense of the need to struggle with confusion and unsettled questions over an extended period of time to achieve deeper understanding or insight.

     
  6. Faith In Reason: Confidence that, in the long run, one's own higher interests and those of humankind at large will be best served by giving the freest play to reason, by encouraging people to come to their own conclusions by developing their own rational faculties; faith that, with proper encouragement and cultivation, people can learn to think for themselves, to form rational viewpoints, draw reasonable conclusions, think coherently and logically, persuade each other by reason and become reasonable persons, despite the deep-seated obstacles in the native character of the human mind and in society as we know it.

  7. Fair-mindedness

The role of critical thinking skills and learning styles of university students in their academic performance

ZOHRE GHAZIVAKILI,1ROOHANGIZ NOROUZI NIA,2FARIDE PANAHI,3MEHRDAD KARIMI,4HAYEDE GHOLSORKHI,5 and ZARRIN AHMADI6

1Emergency medical services department, Paramedical school, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran;

2Educational Development Center, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran;

3Nursing and midwifery school, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran;

4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Public Health School, Tehran, Iran;

5Medical school, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran;

6Amirkabir University of Technology(Polytechnic), Tehran, Iran

Correspondence: Roohangiz Norouzi Nia, Educational Development Center, Alborz University of Medical Sciences, Karaj, Iran, Tel: +98-26-32563341, Email: kiarash_s_77@yahoo.com

Author information ►Article notes ►Copyright and License information ►

Received 2014 Jan 18; Accepted 2014 May 19.

Copyright © 2014: Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

J Adv Med Educ Prof. 2014 Jul; 2(3): 95–102.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract

Introduction: The Current world needs people who have a lot of different abilities such as cognition and application of different ways of thinking, research, problem solving, critical thinking skills and creativity. In addition to critical thinking, learning styles is another key factor which has an essential role in the process of problem solving. This study aimed to determine the relationship between learning styles and critical thinking of students and their academic performance in Alborz University of Medical Science.

Methods: This cross-correlation study was performed in 2012, on 216 students of Alborz University who were selected randomly by the stratified random sampling. The data was obtained via a three-part questionnaire included demographic data, Kolb standardized questionnaire of learning style and California critical thinking standardized questionnaire. The academic performance of the students was extracted by the school records. The validity of the instruments was determined in terms of content validity, and the reliability was gained through internal consistency methods. Cronbach's alpha coefficient was found to be 0.78 for the California critical thinking questionnaire. The Chi Square test, Independent t-test, one way ANOVA and Pearson correlation test were used to determine relationship between variables. The Package SPSS14 statistical software was used to analyze data with a significant level of p<0.05.

Results: Our findings indicated the significant difference of mean score in four learning style, suggesting university students with convergent learning style have better performance than other groups. Also learning style had a relationship with age, gender, field of study, semester and job. The results about the critical thinking of the students showed that the mean of deductive reasoning and evaluation skills were higher than that of other skills and analytical skills had the lowest mean and there was a positive significant relationship between the students’ performance with inferential skill and the total score of critical thinking skills (p<0.05). Furthermore, evaluation skills and deductive reasoning had significant relationship. On the other hand, the mean total score of critical thinking had significant difference between different learning styles.

Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the learning styles, critical thinking and academic performance are significantly associated with one another. Considering the growing importance of critical thinking in enhancing the professional competence of individuals, it's recommended to use teaching methods consistent with the learning style because it would be more effective in this context.

Key words: Learning, Performance, Student

Introduction

The current world needs people with a lot of capabilities such as understanding and using different ways of thinking, research, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. Critical thinking is one of the aspects of thinking that has been accepted as a way to overcome the difficulties and to facilitate the access to information in life (1).

To Watson and Glizer, critical thinking is a combination of knowledge, attitude, and performance of every individual. They also believe that there are some skills of critical thinking such as perception, assumption recognition deduction, interpretation and evaluation of logical reasoning. They argue that the ability of critical thinking, processing and evaluation of previous information with new information result from inductive and deductive reasoning of solving problems. Watson and Glizer definition of critical thinking has been the basis of critical thinking tests that are widely used to measure the critical thinking today (2).

World Federation for Medical Education has considered critical thinking one of the medical training standards so that in accredited colleges this subject is one of the key points. In fact, one of the criteria for the accreditation of a learning institute is the measurement of critical thinking in its students (3).

In addition to critical thinking, learning style, i.e. the information processing method, of the learners, is an important key factor that has a major role in problem solving. According to David Kolb’s theory, learning is a four-step process that includes concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization and active experimentation. This position represents two dimensions: concrete experience versus abstract thinking, and reflective observation to active experimentation. These dimensions include four learning styles: divergent, convergent, assimilate, and accommodate. According to Kolb and Ferry, the learner needs four different abilities to function efficiently: Learning styles involve several variables such as academic performance of learner, higher education improvement; critical thinking and problem solving (4).

Due to the importance of learning styles and critical thinking in students' academic performance, a large volume of educational research has been devoted to these issues in different countries. Demirhan, Besoluk and Onder (2011) in their study on critical thinking and students’ academic performance from the first semester to two years later have found that contrary to expectations the students’ critical thinking level reduced but the total mean of students’ scores increased. This is due to the fact that the students are likely to increase adaptive behavior with environment and university and reduce the stress during their education (1).

In another study over 330 students in Turkey, the students who had divergent learning style, had lower scores in critical thinking in contrast with students who have accommodator learning style (5).

Also Mahmoud examined the relationship between critical thinking and learning styles of the Bachelor students with their academic performance in 2012. In this study all the nursing students of the university in the semesters four, six and eight were studied. The results did not show any significant relationship between critical thinking and learning styles of nursing students with their academic performance (6).

Another research by Nasrabadi in 2012 showed a positive relationship between critical thinking attitudes and student's academic achievement. The results showed that there was a significant difference between the levels of critical thinking of assimilating and converge styles. Also converging, diverging, assimilating and accommodating styles had the highest level of critical thinking, respectively (4). Among other studies we can refer to Sharma’s study in 2011 whose results suggested a relationship between the academic performance and learning styles (7).

Today university students should not only think but also should think differently and should not only remember the knowledge in their mind but also should research the best learning style among different learning styles. Therefore, the study on the topic of how the students think and how they learn has received great emphasis in recent years. In this regard, with the importance of the subject, researchers attempted to doa research in this area to determine the relationship between critical thinking and learning styles with academic performance of the students at Alborz University of Medical Sciences.

Methods

This study is a descriptive-analytic, cross sectional study and investigates the relationship between critical thinking and learning styles with students’ academic performance of Alborz University of Medical Science in 2012. After approval and permission from university’s authorities and in coordination with official faculties, the critical thinking and learning styles questionnaire was given to the undergraduate students in associate degree, bachelor, medicine (second semester and after that). The total number of participants in the study was 216 students with different majors such as medical, nursing and midwifery, and health and medical emergency students. The tool to collect the data was a two-part questionnaire of Kolb's learning styles and California's critical thinking skills test (form B). The Kolb's questionnaire has two parts. The first part asks for demographic information and the second part includes 12 multiple choice questions. The participants respond to the questions with regard to how they learn, and the scores of respondents are ranked from 1 to 4 in which 4 is most consistent with the participants’ learning style 3 to some extent, 2 poorly consistent and 1 not consistent To find the participants’ learning styles, the first choice of all 12 questions were added together and this was repeated for other choices. Thus, four total scores for the four learning styles were obtained, the first for concrete experience learning style, the second for reflective observation of learning style, the third for abstract conceptualization learning style and the forth for active experimentation learning style. The highest score determined the learning style of the participant. The California critical thinking skills test (form B) includes 34 multiple choice questions with one correct answer in five different areas of critical thinking skills, including evaluation, inference, analysis, inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. The answering time was 45 minutes and the final score is 34 and the achieved score in each section of the test varies from 0 to 16. In the evaluation section, the maximum point is 14, in analysis section 9, in inference section 11, in inductive reasoning 16 and in deductive reasoning the maximum point was 14. So there were 6 scores for each participant, which included a critical thinking total score and 5 score for critical thinking skills. Dehghani, Jafari Sani, Pakmehr and Malekzadeh found that the reliability of the questionnaire was 78% in a research. In the study of Khalili et al., the confidence coefficient was 62% and construct validity of all subscales with positive and high correlation were reported between 60%-65%. So this test was reliable for the research. Collecting the information was conducted in two stages. In the first stage, the questionnaires were given to the students and the objectives and importance of the research were mentioned. In the next stage, the students' academic performance was reviewed. After data collection, the data were coded and analyzed, using the SPSS 14 ( SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL, USA) software. To describe the data, descriptive statistics were used such as mean and standard deviation for continues variables and frequency for qualitative variables. Chi Square test, Independent t-test, one way ANOVA and Pearson correlation test were used to determine the relationship between variables at a significant level of p<0.05.

Research hypothesis

  1. There is a relationship between Alborz University of Medical Sciences students’ learning styles and their demographic information. 

  2. There is a relationship between Alborz University of Medical Sciences students’ critical thinking and their demographic information. 

  3. There is a relationship between Alborz University of Medical Sciences students’ academic performance and their demographic information. 

  4. There is a relationship between Alborz University of Medical Sciences students’ learning styles and their academic performance. 

  5. There is a relationship between Alborz University of Medical Sciences students’ learning styles and their critical thinking. 

Results

225 questionnaires were distributed of which 216 were completely responded (96%). The age range of the participants was from 16 to 45 with the mean age of (22.44±3.7). 52.8% of participants (n=114) were female, 83.3% (n=180) were single, 30.1% of participants’ (n=65) major was pediatric anesthesiology of OR, 35.2% of participants (n=76) were in fourth semester, 74.5% (n=161) were unemployed and 48.6 % (n=105) had Persian ethnicity.

The range of participants’ average grade points, which were considered as their academic performance, were from 12.51 to 19.07 with a mean of (16.75±1.3). According to Kolbs' pattern, 42.7% (n=85) had the convergent learning style (the maximum percentage) followed by 33.2 % (n= 66) with the assimilating style and only 9.5%, (n= 19) with the accommodating style (the minimum percentage).

Among the 5 critical thinking skills, the maximum mean score belonged to deductive reasoning skill (3.38±1.58) and the minimum mean score belonged to analysis skill (1.67±1.08).

Table 1 shows the frequency distribution and demographic variables and the academic performance of the students. According to the Chi-square (Χ2) p-value, there was a significant relationship between gender and learning style (p=0.032), so that nearly 50 percent of males had the assimilating learning style and nearly 52 percent of the females had the convergent learning style.

Table 1

The relationship between demographic variable and student’s academic performance with learning styles

The relationship between employment, major and semester of studying with the learning style was significant at a p-value of 0.049, 0.006, 0.009 and 0.001, respectively. The mean and standard deviation of age and students' academic performance in the four learning styles are reported in Table 1.

Using the one way analysis of variance (One way ANOVA) and comparing the mean age of four groups, we found a significant relation between age and academic performance with learning style (p=0.049).

The students with convergent learning style had a better academic performance than those with other learning styles and in the performance of those with the assimilating learning style the weakest.

Table 2 shows the relationship between the total score of critical thinking skills and each of the demographic variables and academic performance. The results of the t-test and one way ANOVA variance analysis are reported to investigate the relationship between each variable with skills below the mean standard deviation.

Table 2

Relationships between CCT Skills and demographic variables Using t-test and ANOVA. Pearson Correlation coefficient between age and Student's performance with CCT Skills was reported

Based on the t-test and ANOVA, p-value of t and F, the mean of total score of critical thinking skills had only significant relationship with students’ major (p=0.020). Also a significant relationship was found between the major of students and gender with inference skill; semester of study with deductive reasoning skill, and ethnicity with 2 skills of inference and deductive reasoning (p<0.05).

Also regarding the relationship between age and the student academic performance with each of the critical thinking skills, the Pearson correlation coefficient results indicated a significant positive relationship but a negative relationship between age and analysis skill, i.e. with the increase of age, the score of analysis skill was reduced (p<0.05). Academic performance of the students had a direct significant relationship with critical thinking total score and inference skill; the more the score, the better the academic performance of students (p<0.05).

Table 3 shows the mean and standard deviation of learning styles score in the 4 groups of learning style. Using ANOVA one way ANOVA, the relationship between learning style and critical thinking skills and the comparison of the mean score for each skill in four styles are reported in the last column of the Table 3.

Table 3

The Relationship between critical thinking styles with learning styles

Based on the p-value of ANOVA, the mean of evaluation skill and inductive reasoning skill had a significant difference and the relationship between these two skills with learning style was significant (p<0.05). Also the mean of critical thinking’s total score was significantly different in the four groups and the relationship between total score with learning style was significant, too (p<0.05).

Figure 1

The mean and confidence interval of university students’ performance in four learning  styles

Figure 2

The mean and confidene interval of critical thinking skills

Discussion

The study findings showed that the popular learning style among the students was the convergent style followed by the assimilating style which is consistent with Kolb's theory stating that medical science students usually have this learning style (8). This result was consistent with the results of other studies (9, 10). In Yenice's study in which the student of training teacher were the target of the project, the most frequent learning styles were divergent and assimilating styles and these differences originate from the different target group of study in 2012 (11).

This study showed a significant relationship between learning style and gender, age, semester and employment. Meyari et al. did not find any significant relationship between learning style, age and gender of the freshman but for the fifth semester students, a significant relationship with age and gender was found (10). Also in Yenice's study, no relationship with learning style, gender, semester and age was found.

Furthermore, in the first semester divergent style, in the second semester assimilating style and in the third and fourth semester divergent style were accounted for the highest percentage. Also in the group age of 17-20 years the assimilating style and the age of 21-24 years the divergent style were dominant styles (11).

In the present study, it was found a significant positive relationship between convergent learning style and academic performance. Also in the study of Pooladi et al. the majority of the students had convergent style and they also found a significant relationship between learning style, total mean score and the mean of practical courses (12). Nasrabadi et al. found that students with the highest achievement were those with convergent style with a significant difference with those with divergent style (4). But the results are inconsistent to Meyari et al.’s (10).

In this study, the obtained mean score from the critical thinking questionnaire was (7.15±2.41) that was compared with that in the study of Khalili and Hoseinzadeh which was to validate and make reliable the critical thinking skills questionnaire of California (form B) in the Iranian nursing students; the mean of total score was about the 11th percentile of this study (13).

In other words, the computed score for critical thinking of the students participating was lower than 11 score that is in the 50th percentile and of course is lower than normal range.

Hariri and Bagherinezhad had shown that the computed score for Bachelor and Master students of Health faculty was also lower than the norm in Iran (14). Also Mayer and Dayer came to a similar conclusion in critical thinking skill in the Agricultural university of Florida’s students in 2006 (15).

But in Gharib et al.’s study, the total score of critical thinking test among the freshman and senior of Health-care management was in normal range (16). Wangensteen et al., found that the critical thinking skills of the newest graduate nursing students were relatively high in Sweden in 2010 (17).

In this study, students of all levels (Associate, Bachelor and PhD) with various fields of study participated but other studies have been limited to certain graduate courses that may explain the differences in levels of special critical thinking skills score in this study. In this study we found a significant relationship between total score of critical thinking and major of the students. This result is consistent with Serin et al. (18).

It was found a significant relationship between major of participants, gender and inference skill, semester and deductive reasoning skill, ethnicity and both inference and deductive reasoning skills.

In the Yenice's study significant relationship between critical thinking, group of age, gender and semester was seen (11). In Wangensteen et al.’s (17) study in the older age group, the level of critical thinking score increased. In Serin et al.’s (18) study the level of communication skills in girls was better than that in boys. And also a significant relationship was found between critical thinking and academic semester, but in Mayer and Dayer’s study no significant relationship between critical thinking levels and gender was found (4,15).

The results also showed that the total score of critical thinking and analytical skills of students and their performance had a significant relationship. Nasrabady et al.’s study also showed that there was a positive relationship between critical thinking reflection attitude and academic achievement (4). This is contradictory with what Demirhan, Bosluk and Ander found (6, 15).

The results of the relationship between learning style and critical thinking indicated that the relationship between evaluation and inductive reasoning was significant to learning style (p<0.05). The relationship of critical thinking total score with learning style was also significant (p<0.05). Thus the total score for those with the conforming style of critical skills was more than that with other styles. But in the subgroup of inference skills, those with the convergent style had a higher mean than those with other styles.

Yenice found a negative relationship between critical thinking score and divergent learning style and a positive relation between critical thinking score and accommodating style (11).

Siriopoulos and Pomonis in their study compared the learning style and critical thinking skills of students in two phases: at the beginning and end of education and came to this conclusion that the learning style of students changed in the second phase.

For example, the divergent, convergent and accommodating styles languished and the assimilating style (combination of abstract thinking and reflective observation) was noticeably strengthened. However, those with converging learning style had higher levels of critical thinking.

The level of students’ critical thinking was lower in all international standards styles. Perhaps it was because of widely used teacher-centered teaching methods (lectures) in that university (19).

The results in the study of Nasrabady et al. showed that there was a significant difference between the level of learners’ critical thinking and divergent and assimilating styles (4).

Those with converging, diverging, assimilating and accommodating styles had the highest level of critical thinking, respectively.

Also there was a positive significant relationship between the reflective observation method and critical thinking and also a negative significant relationship between the abstract conceptualization method and critical thinking (4). But in another study that Mahmud has done in 2012, he did not find any significant relationship between learning style, critical thinking and students’ performance (6).

Conclusion

The results of this study showed that the students’ critical thinking skills of this university aren't acceptable. Also learning styles, critical thinking and academic performance have significant relationship with each other. Due to the important role of critical thinking in enhancing professional competence, it is recommend using teaching methods which are consistent with the learning styles.

Acknowledgment

This study is based on a research project that was approved in Research Deputy of Alborz University of Medical sciences. We sincerely appreciate all in Research Deputy of Alborz University of Medical sciences who supported us financially and morally and all students and colleagues who participated in this study.

Conflict of Interest: None declared.

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Articles from Journal of Advances in Medical Education & Professionalism are provided here courtesy of Shiraz University of Medical Sciences

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