Critical Thinking on Practical Learning Online

Nations Report Card Shows Nations High School Seniors Are Lacking in Critical Thinking Skills

A recent study by the NAEP (Nations Report Card) showed that our nation’s high school seniors are lacking in critical thinking skills. According to the article National Report Card: High School Students Lack Critical Thinking Skills, only 4 out of 10 students tested were proficient in math and reading.  One of the reasons for this is “Students who reported rarely or never discussing reading interpretations in class averaged lower scores than those who had such discussions daily.”  These seems to be a trend. The same study in 2005 showed that only 6% of 12th graders exhibit critical thinking skills with respect to written text (Perie, Grigg, and Donahue, 2005).  In this same study the researchers found that only 15 percent of 12th graders can write organized essays with well defined clear arguments.

Why this is important:

According to the American Association of University Professors “critical thinking is the hallmark of American education—an education designed to create thinking citizens for a free society.”   Having not developed these skills in school prior to college is resulting in our college graduates lacking in these skills as well.  This is a quote from an NPR article which focused on the decline in critical thinking skills among our students. According to the story, A Lack Of Rigor Leaves Students Adrift In College,  researchers did a study to see the amount of improvement in both writing and critical thinking skills. What they found was astonishing. More than 1/3 of the students they studied showed no improvement in critical thinking skills through 4 years of college. My personal experiences as an employer has shown me that the need to develop these skills is impotant if our workforce is to have the skills necessary to efficient as well as productive.

What you can do: Give your student what they need to develop the necessary critical thinking skills.

Practical Learning Online believes that critical thinking is an important part of any childs development. At Practical Learning Online we provide tools to help your student get the practice he or she needs at doing good research. Engaging students in critical thinking with Pract The Facts is good for both their academic career and the ability to make good life decisions. Our discussion forums and online course are specifically developed to encourage critical thinking skills.

Can online discussion forums help develop critical thinking skills?

We believe so and besides years of online teaching experience using the format, there is also research that supports this as well. Of the many articles that support this method of instruction to enhance critical thinking is Essential Elements in Designing Online Discussions to Promote Cognitive Presence – A Practical Experience. Wang Y & Chen (2008). We think they sum it up best with the following quote from the article “Compared with spontaneous and transitory face-to-face class discussions, online discussions are text-based and more structured, providing students time to formulate thinking and compose postings, thus helping to promote student higher order learning…The textbased feature of online discussions makes student thinking visible and leaves a permanent written record for student later review. “Text-based  communication may actually be preferable to oral communication when the objective is higher-order cognitive learning.”


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