Scaffolding Critical Thinking in Online-Based Scenarios

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This presentation reports on a study that examined the role of scaffolding and facilitation on critical thinking and participation in online discussions at the college level

This presentation reports on a study that examined the role of scaffolding and facilitation on critical thinking and participation in online discussions at the college level

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  • Critical thinking is increasingly regarded as a vital goal for higher education (S. Brookfield, 1989; Browne & Freeman, 2000; Costa, 1991; Paul, 1993, 1995; Perkins, 1992; Pithers & Soden, 2000). The American Association of Colleges and Universities has selected critical thinking as one of six major skills students need to acquirey during their undergraduate education. Only 25% to 50% of first year college students posses any skills resembling critical thinking (Halpern, 1996) The first three years of college only enhanced students’ critical thinking at an average of .55 of a standard deviation (Pascarella & Terenzini , 2005) With the explosion of web-based education, the amination of critical thinking is due, the same questions are raised again there has been substantial speculation about the role of computer-mediated technology, especially asynchronous technology, in transforming higher education (Imel, 2001; Sloman, 2001) There are indeed a few studies that suggest the possibility of successful engagement and learning in online environments (e.g., Collision, Erlbaum, Haavind, & Tinker, 2000; Mikulecky, 1998). Studies suggest that computer-mediated activities may not be fulfilling their promises in producing meaningful learning and deeper thinking (e.g., Collette, Kanuka, Blanchette, & Goodale, 1999; Klemm & Snell, 1996). Studies that have focused on critical thinking report unsatisfactory levels of critical thinking (Bullen, 1997; Cheung & Hew, 2003; Khine et al, 2003) I still need to see what I am going to do with that slide There are indeed a few studies that suggest the possibility of successful engagement and learning in online environments (e.g., Collision, Erlbaum, Haavind, & Tinker, 2000; Mikulecky, 1998). There are, however, those who believe it erroneous to assume that learning simply happens online. Klemm and Snell (1996), for example, observed that engaging students in opinion based threaded discussions did not lead to meaningful learning or deeper thinking.
  • Students often opt out of critical thinking – since its by nature a cognitive challenging task. TASKS SHOULD BE PROBLEM BASED Dewey 1993 - the willingness to engage in reflective (critical) thinking can only happen after we recognize that a problem exists to Duffy (2002)are in a constant state of natural inquiry trying to make sense of their experiences; He adds that any kind of higher order learning, and thus by extension critical thinking, is inquiry-based. A problem does not necessarily have to be a dilemma that requires a solution; it can be a state of cognitive conflict or an unanswered query. If the long-term educational goals are to make critical thinking a deeply-engrained, naturally-occurring skill, we need to support critical thinking in activities that learners naturally engage in, their inquiries; their endeavors to decipher their experiences and find solutions to what they regard as problematic. This should be the constant element in our support of critical thinking. Engaging in relevant inquiry experiences needs to be the first and quintessential characteristic of critical thinking instruction – not an option. TASKS NEED TO BE AUTHENTIC IN THEIR COMPLEXITY Activities and tasks need to come across as authentic to the situations where we would expect students to engage in using critical thinking outside the classroom (Barab & Duffy, 1998; Resnik, 1987). “The inquiry process should increase the learner’s ability to take meaningful action in the future” (Innes, 2004, p. 53). The tasks according to Brown, Collins & Duguid’s (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989)should reflect the complexity of real life, rather than simplifications. TASKS NEED TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE IMPORTANCE OF USING DIFFERENT RESOURCES FROM THE ENVIRONMENT. In addition, I think authentic activities should reflect the richness of resources at the disposal of learners. Dewey emphasized the importance of the transactional dynamic connection between the individual and environment (Dewey & Bentley, 1949) as a necessary condition for thinking and learning. His notion of the environment is, however, not limited to other people within that individual’s social context, as is often our understanding today; an individual’s environment refers to “whatever conditions interact with personal needs, desires, purposes, and qualities to create experience which is had” (Dewey, 1938, p. 43). Based on that, we cannot think of social interactions with other people as the only way or the preferred way to promote critical thinking.
  • By externalization, I mean manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment. Such a manifestation can take the form of action or verbalization. Learners’ actions per se might help us speculate about the kind of thinking that students’ might have engaged in to reach a particular, decision, or solution. I do, however, believe that an integral part of any critical thinking activity learners engage in should involve the use of language. Two mechanisms that are particularly useful in the development of critical thinking through language are articulation and feedback.
  • By externalization, I mean manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment. Such a manifestation can take the form of action or verbalization. Learners’ actions per se might help us speculate about the kind of thinking that students’ might have engaged in to reach a particular, decision, or solution. I do, however, believe that an integral part of any critical thinking activity learners engage in should involve the use of language. Two mechanisms that are particularly useful in the development of critical thinking through language are articulation and feedback.
  • By externalization, I mean manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment. Such a manifestation can take the form of action or verbalization. Learners’ actions per se might help us speculate about the kind of thinking that students’ might have engaged in to reach a particular, decision, or solution. I do, however, believe that an integral part of any critical thinking activity learners engage in should involve the use of language. Two mechanisms that are particularly useful in the development of critical thinking through language are articulation and feedback.
  • By externalization, I mean manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment. Such a manifestation can take the form of action or verbalization. Learners’ actions per se might help us speculate about the kind of thinking that students’ might have engaged in to reach a particular, decision, or solution. I do, however, believe that an integral part of any critical thinking activity learners engage in should involve the use of language. Two mechanisms that are particularly useful in the development of critical thinking through language are articulation and feedback.
  • By externalization, I mean manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment. Such a manifestation can take the form of action or verbalization. Learners’ actions per se might help us speculate about the kind of thinking that students’ might have engaged in to reach a particular, decision, or solution. I do, however, believe that an integral part of any critical thinking activity learners engage in should involve the use of language. Two mechanisms that are particularly useful in the development of critical thinking through language are articulation and feedback.
  • “ a bench mark of deep understanding” (Carpenter and Lehrer, cited in Pugalee, 2004). Writing down our thoughts in a journal or thinking aloud to ourselves are examples of techniques that we use to externalize our thoughts into the environment. Once our thoughts are externalized, we can transact with them all over again, giving us the ability to have a more detached fresh look at those ideas. more carefully formulate his or her ideas, and increases the distance between the individual and the thought, thus allowing more effective revision of the thought processes. Having an audience would, however, compound the benefits. It is important to note here that by audience I mean one individual or more, who is willing to listen and attentive to what that articulator has to say. Ideally that audience is also ready to respond to the articulator. Readiness to respond is not universal across cultures and contexts.
  • Vygotsky (cited in Pugalee, 2004) argued that writing for an audience helps learners engage in higher levels thinking by pushing them to ‘compact’ internal speech into a form that is understandable to others. Similarly, Flower (1979) argues that “writers do not simply express thought but transform it in certain complex but describable ways for the needs of a reader” (p. 20).
  • There is also the possibility that the anticipation of an audience might be of benefit to enhancing motivation – even if learners never receive a response. This latter notion might have important implications for our perception of unreferenced messages in computer-mediated discussions. A common complaint in the literature of discussions is that students do not read others’ messages (e.g., Khine et al., 2003), let alone respond to the messages of others (e.g., Andriessen, 2006; Cheung & Hew, 2006). If we assume that writing our thoughts is in and of itself beneficial, then we might want to promote learner self-expression even in the absence of a responsive audience. Thus, facilitation that encourages participation should increase this externalization and hence, critical thinking. This leads to the following hypothesis:   The impact of articulation on thinking, and eventually learning, is of special relevance to the controversy about the pedagogical implications of silence in computer-mediated instruction. It is very common for instructors to express concern about learners who rarely seem to ask questions or contribute to discussions during a course. There are some who argue that these silent learners learn even though they are not visually active (e.g., Beaudoin, 2002); there are, however, those who believe that active participation is essential for students to reach higher levels of thinking (Andriessen, 2006; Kearsley, 1995). If articulation emerges as important to enhanced critical thinking, then encouraging learners to externalize their thoughts becomes essential.
  • While there should be an effect of externalization even without an audience, the existence of feedback or response should compound that impact. That feedback can be expansive or dialectical in nature. Expansive activity results in an increase in the number of ideas available to the individual, through the exchange of information - even if no one reacts to the ideas of that individual. This kind of expansive activity is quite dominant in face-to-face and online discussions (e.g., Andriessen, 2006; Osman et al., in review)in which students find great value in being exposed to other people’s opinions about a certain topic. This kind of expansive activity has the benefits of enriching the learners’ opportunities for discovering area of cognitive conflict. But it does not necessarily have to lead to cognitive conflict, even in the presence of statements that are contradictory due to a number of reasons. To begin with, if a student assumes the attitude of a collector, his or her focus will be on adding new opinions rather critically processing these opinions. Some students regard all ideas as equally valid, and thus do not recognize a need to resolve conflicting ideas (e.g., Piaget, 1977; Posner, Strike, Hewson, & Gertzog, 1982). Another scenario would be that learner fails to discern the conflict. A third scenario, would be that, left on their own, the student decides to bail out from engaging in the cognitively complex task. The identification and resolution of cognitive conflict is, however, regarded as some of the most important pre-requisites to the development of higher-level thinking. This is where the dialectical activity with others serves an important purpose. Expansive activity might result in the mere exchange and collection of ideas. However, if other individuals in the environment react to the learner in dialectical fashion, then a process of critical thinking is more likely to occur. This process would entail individuals asking for clarification, challenging ideas, presenting counter-ideas. I argue that dialectical feedback is substantially more important in developing a students’ thinking because it explicitly directs the learner to re-evaluate a statement or a piece of evidence he or she contributed, and to recognize areas in his or her thinking that lack coherence or soundness. Expansive feedback, on the other hand, might provide a learner with ideas that contradict or challenge what he or she contributed, but it leaves it up to the learner not only to recognize this discrepancy, but also to react to it. This notion leads to the following hypothesis:   Hypothesis 2. Looking across all students, those students who had more dialectical feedback on their posts will exhibit greater critical thinking.
  • Guiding students to critical thinking opportunities should lead to greater critical thinking. Thus, while the framework sees an important role of the instructor facilitator, it may be that simply encouraging participation will lead to a greater response rate and perhaps to more dialectical responses to students’ posts. Facilitator Role. Although the importance of a facilitator to a discussion is left largely unquestioned, the nature of that role in computer mediated environment needs further research. The existing research is inconclusive (Gerber et al., 2005). Guiding students to critical thinking opportunities should lead to greater critical thinking. Thus, while the framework sees an important role of the instructor facilitator, it may be that simply encouraging participation will lead to a greater response rate and perhaps to more dialectical responses to students’ posts. Or, it may be that the more direct guidance and challenge will serve to increase the dialectical contributions but not the overall contributions. In essence, the issues here must framed as questions rather than hypotheses:
  • Discussion: Via discussion forums Groups (4-5 students) discuss two ill-structured problem-based scenarios (threaded asynchronous forums) Groups come to consensus on the most important causes and solutions for the scenario + provide justifications for their choice using concepts and theories from p312. Group Report: Groups write up a 700-word report reflecting their decisions and justifications, and then senf this to the instructor by e-mail. (threaded asynchronous forums) Recall Test: Individuals outline the decisions they took as a group and their justifications (face-to-face)
  • A single factor, between subjects design with two levels of scaffolding Participants within each class will be randomly assigned to one of two conditions: 1) the “Guidance to participate” condition; or 2) the “Guidance to evaluate” condition. Facilitation will be conducted by the researcher who uses a number of predefined prompts The facilitator will not become an active contributor in the discussion. The prompt will be limited to encouraging participation and will not make suggestions as to specific type of participation. The facilitator will send participants who have not contributed to the discussion within a 24-hour time period a private Oncourse e-mail to prompt him/her by asking questions that encourage participation. Examples of questions “ “ [name of group member] and [name of group member] have expressed their thoughts about the case. What do you think?” “ Any new ideas about the case, [name of group member]?” Participants will be individually prompted The aim of facilitation in this condition is to prompt students to justify or challenge claims through grounds/evidence, and to examine grounds more deeply. The facilitator will send participants who have not contributed to the discussion within a 24-hour time period a private Oncourse e-mail to prompt him/her by asking question that encourage reasoning. Examples of questions “ Do you think these arguments are strong or weak? Why?” “ Can you think of evidence that could support [name of other member in the group]’s claim?”
  • Approximately 13% of the participants (4 out of 31) suggested that the posts had no value because they did not present any new ideas. The results are in line with the findings of a previous study (Osman et al., in review) investigating pre-service teachers’ perceptions of collaborative activities; similar to the students in this study, participants in Osman et al.’s study indicated that exchange of information is the ultimate value of group discussions. These findings are also supported by Pawan et al.’s (in press) study. A study by Kuhn (1991), in which she examined the reasoning of 160 individuals in informal settings, revealed that people’s judgments and beliefs are hardly substantiated by real evidence. The results of the study indicate that students seem to rely on simplistic arguments to support their idead, and do not pay sufficient attention to evaluating the arguments of others. Based on her observations of argumentation and critical thinking in American schools, Kuhn (2005) suggested that students generally develop negative attitudes towards evaluation of ideas, regard argumentation as disrespectful and intolerant to others ideas, and as such regard such behavior as undesirable in the classroom.
  • Budd, Thorp, and Donohue (1967) define idea unit as “a single thought unit … that conveys a single item of information extracted from a segment of content” (p. 34). Reported co-offiencients ranged from 0.5 to 0.7, the low correlation cooefficient, but note that 95% of the total posts were scored within one level of each other DeLoach & Greenlaw (2003) acknowledg I coded idea units rather than messages Small number of messages – not enough for inferential statistics Yield more insight about critical thinking contirubtions Greenlaw and delaoch Five two week long disuccsions for five how classes 165/1039 messages) Greenlaw and DeLoach: - Capture the definitions, the negotiative aspect of critical thinking, the ethical issues, the hierarchy of skills, a wider spectrum of skills that exist in undergraduate education.
  • This is higher than the average participation in Bullen (1997) whose participants contributed an average of about 1 message per week per person, but lower than the participants in DeLoach &Greenlaw’s (2003) study who posted about 3 messages each week. Participants in both these studies were undergraduates – as is the sample in this study. In that sense, it could be said that the subjects in this study did not participate outstandingly higher or lower than undergraduates in other studies investigating critical thinking. Their participation, however, seems quite low compared to some, but not all, studies examining critical thinking at the graduate or professional levels. Khine et al. (2006) and Sloffer et al. (1999) had relatively higher participation rates, with an average of 14 messages per person per week in both studies. Such a high participation is not characteristic of all participation at the professional and graduate levels.
  • To summarize, the majority of participants found the case study relevant to their future goals as teachers, and as such according to what I hypothesized, I should see students participate in the discussions and engage in critical thinking. The feedback however suggests that their experience was not all positive. Students suggested that they needed more guidance in approaching case studies, that they did not know how to use discussions to solve cases, and the online format might not have been the best medium for interaction. These latter factors may have moderated the impact of relevance on engagement and thinking in case studies. The discussion data indicates little critical thinking and participation. Further research is, however, needed to examine the extent to which contextual factors such as the ones mentioned by participants above impact critical thinking and participation.
  • About 94% (29 out of 31) of the participants reported on the post-treatment questionnaire that they had read the postings of other members in their group. Why didn’t they respond? Can I attribute this simply to technological difficulties, shortage of time, and lack of clear expectations and definite requirements? Or are their others reasons that are worthy of exploration? Unfortunately, the data I collected does not provide any conclusive answers, only more variables worthy of exploration. One answer by a participant during an interview suggests more serious reasons for minimum participation. Laura explained her limited responses as follows: Laura’s justification is of relevance to our findings on both participation and critical thinking. It could be that our students are not accustomed to engaging in cognitively demanding tasks; in tasks that hold you accountable their opinions and arguments. The results of the present study for critical thinking suggest that this might be the case.
  • Approximately 13% of the participants (4 out of 31) suggested that the posts had no value because they did not present any new ideas. The results are in line with the findings of a previous study (Osman et al., in review) investigating pre-service teachers’ perceptions of collaborative activities; similar to the students in this study, participants in Osman et al.’s study indicated that exchange of information is the ultimate value of group discussions. These findings are also supported by Pawan et al.’s (in press) study. This discrepancy in what students report and the results of the analysis raises some important questions. Could it simply be that students are responding with what they regard as socially acceptable? Or could the reason for these incongruent results lie deeper than that? It could be that the student notion about what constitutes good evidence, even theory-based evidence, differs from what we expect as researchers. A study by Kuhn (1991), in which she examined the reasoning of 160 individuals in informal settings, revealed that people’s judgments and beliefs are hardly substantiated by real evidence. The results of the study indicate that students seem to rely on simplistic arguments to support their idea, and do not pay sufficient attention to evaluating the arguments of others. Based on her observations of argumentation and critical thinking in American schools, Kuhn (2005) suggested that students generally develop negative attitudes towards evaluation of ideas, regard argumentation as disrespectful and intolerant to others ideas, and as such regard such behavior as undesirable in the classroom. An informal analysis of the evidence students provided shows that most of their support is in the form of sharing opinions and justifying these with examples – often based on their own experiences as high school students. When theories are mentioned, they are often added as an afterthought.
  • Approximately 13% of the participants (4 out of 31) suggested that the posts had no value because they did not present any new ideas. The results are in line with the findings of a previous study (Osman et al., in review) investigating pre-service teachers’ perceptions of collaborative activities; similar to the students in this study, participants in Osman et al.’s study indicated that exchange of information is the ultimate value of group discussions. These findings are also supported by Pawan et al.’s (in press) study. A study by Kuhn (1991), in which she examined the reasoning of 160 individuals in informal settings, revealed that people’s judgments and beliefs are hardly substantiated by real evidence. The results of the study indicate that students seem to rely on simplistic arguments to support their idead, and do not pay sufficient attention to evaluating the arguments of others. Based on her observations of argumentation and critical thinking in American schools, Kuhn (2005) suggested that students generally develop negative attitudes towards evaluation of ideas, regard argumentation as disrespectful and intolerant to others ideas, and as such regard such behavior as undesirable in the classroom.
  • Approximately 13% of the participants (4 out of 31) suggested that the posts had no value because they did not present any new ideas. The results are in line with the findings of a previous study (Osman et al., in review) investigating pre-service teachers’ perceptions of collaborative activities; similar to the students in this study, participants in Osman et al.’s study indicated that exchange of information is the ultimate value of group discussions. These findings are also supported by Pawan et al.’s (in press) study.
  • The relationship is important (1) indicator of student engagement; (2) externalization Two Pearson correlations were conducted between Level of Participation and Critical Thinking. Level of Participation = total number of idea units by individual student Critical Thinking was operationalized in two ways: the absolute number or quantity of idea units classified as critical thinking, where critical thinking is a score of 3 or higher on the Greenlaw and Deloaoch (2003) scale. the proportion of idea units classified as critical thinking, where critical thinking is a score of 3 or higher on the Greenlaw and Deloaoch (2003) scale compared to the overall total of idea units contributed by each individual. Thus while greater participation is associated with more critical thinking it is not associated with proportionally more. So does that add to the inconclusiveness of prior research? The above findings have several implications. To begin with, in terms of measurement, they point attention to the importance of operationalizing critical thinking in research. As is evident from the above results and from findings from other research questions in this dissertation, the choice of measure can lead to different conclusions. It is thus important to consider differences in the operationalization of the construct across studies. The latter considerations are also important when seeking to generalize findings of studies to the design of instructional environments. If our aim is to enhance the overall density of more sophisticated critical thinking in online activities and discussions, then encouragingThe above findings seem to suggest inconclusive conflicting results. However, part of the uncertainty can be attributed to the way different studies measure critical thinking. DeLoach and Greenlaw (2003), for example, examined critical thinking in terms of quantity. As such their findings partially align with results the first correlation analysis in this study, which found a positive relationship between Level of Participation and Quantity of Critical Thinking. Bullen (1997) on the other hand measured critical thinking contributions in terms of proportion. Similar to the results of the second correlation analysis results for the current study, Bullen (1997) did not find a significant relationship between the Proportion of Critical Thinking and level of participation. participation might not be the key solutions. Later sections of this chapter elaborate on the strategies for scaffolding online critical thinking skills. So does that add to the inconclusiveness of prior research? The above findings have several implications. To begin with, in terms of measurement, they point attention to the importance of operationalizing critical thinking in research. As is evident from the above results and from findings from other research questions in this dissertation, the choice of measure can lead to different conclusions. It is thus important to consider differences in the operationalization of the construct across studies. The latter considerations are also important when seeking to generalize findings of studies to the design of instructional environments. If our aim is to enhance the overall density of more sophisticated critical thinking in online activities and discussions, then encouraging participation might not be the key solutions. Later sections of this chapter elaborate on the strategies for scaffolding online critical thinking skills.
  • So does that add to the inconclusiveness of prior research? The above findings have several implications. To begin with, in terms of measurement, they point attention to the importance of operationalizing critical thinking in research. As is evident from the above results and from findings from other research questions in this dissertation, the choice of measure can lead to different conclusions. It is thus important to consider differences in the operationalization of the construct across studies. The latter considerations are also important when seeking to generalize findings of studies to the design of instructional environments. If our aim is to enhance the overall density of more sophisticated critical thinking in online activities and discussions, then encouraging participation might not be the key solutions. Later sections of this chapter elaborate on the strategies for scaffolding online critical thinking skills.
  • A hierarchical analysis of variance (HANOVA) followed by a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Encouraging students to evaluate the contributions of others and think of evidence to support arguments thus led in a increase in the sophistication and density of critical thinking skills used. Given the lack of an interaction involving nesting, a regular analysis of variance was conducted. The analysis of post-treatment questionnaires indicated a similar trend. More students interpreted prompting in general as a push towards participation rather than thinking. Only about 45% (14 out of 31) of respondents to the post treatment questionnaire strongly agreed to the statement “The prompts we received from the facilitator during discussions made me think about the case study”; as opposed to about 58% (18 out of 31) of participants who strongly agreed with the statement “The prompts we received from the facilitator during discussions reminded me to post my ideas”. The latter results imply that although prompts encouraged participants to think, they had a stronger impact in terms of participation.
  • Encouraging students to evaluate the contributions of others and think of evidence to support arguments thus led in a increase in the sophistication and density of critical thinking skills used.
  • Pariticipation, accountability, and relevance were not enought If relevance and accountability in the form of grades are not enough, what is it that would encourage students to get more engaged in critical thinking activities? This discrepancy suggests that students might have notions about argumentation and evidence that differs from our expectations as researchers. It might be important for future research to examine students’ notions about evidence and argumentation before designing new scaffolding techniques
  • Since the interaction between the nested group and treatment failed to reach significance for all three variables, ANOVAs were conducted.

Transcript

  • 1. SCAFFOLDING CRITICAL DISCOURSE IN ONLINE PROBLEM-BASED SCENARIOS : THE ROLE OF ARTICULATION AND EVALUATIVE FEEDBACK Gihan Osman – The Arab Academy for Science & Technology, Egypt Thomas Duffy – Indiana University Bloomington, U.S.A
  • 2. Critical Thinking as an Outcome for Higher Education
    • Critical thinking is a vital goal for higher education (e.g. Browne & Freeman, 2000; Costa, 1991; Pithers & Soden, 2000)
    • Critical thinking is not a guaranteed outcome of college (e.g., Halpern, 1996; Pascarella & Terenzini , 2005)
  • 3. Critical Thinking in Online Settings
    • Dearth of research that focuses on critical thinking as a distinct skill
      • a willingness (a predisposition) and an ability to scrutinize and evaluate thinking – one’s own, as well as others’ – in order to determine truth, accuracy, or worth, and to construct logical arguments to justify claims or assertions. (Beyer, 1990)
  • 4. Questions that guided the study conceptually
    • How can educators create computer-mediated activities and learning environments that promote critical thinking online?
    • What processes are relevant to critical thinking in online environments?
    • What are some of facilitation strategies that are effective in promoting critical thinking?
  • 5. Creating the Appropriate Conditions for Critical Thinking in Online Contexts
  • 6. Motivation and Relevance
    • Tasks should be problem-based (Dewey, 1993; Duffy, 2002)
    • Tasks need to be personally relevant (Barab & Duffy, 1998)
    • Tasks need to be authentic in their complexity (Brown et al, 1989; Innes, 2004; Resnik, 1987)
    • Tasks need to encourage use of different contextual resources (Dewey, 1938; Dewey & Bentley, 1949)
  • 7. Scaffolding
    • Most learners need scaffolding (Quintana, Reiser, Davis, Krajcik, Fretz, Duncan, Kyza, Edelson, & Soloway,2004)
      • Scaffolding = instructional techniques that would help learners attain goals and use skills that would otherwise be out of their reach (Davis & Miyake, 2004).
  • 8. Scaffolding
    • Most learners need scaffolding for critical thinking
  • 9. Scaffolding
    • Most learners need scaffolding for critical thinking
    • Successful scaffolding = identification of processes that promote critical thinking
    • EXTERNALISATION
  • 10. Scaffolding
    • Most learners need scaffolding for critical thinking
    • Successful scaffolding = identification of processes that promote critical thinking
    • EXTERNALISATION
    • Externalization = manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment
  • 11. Scaffolding
    • Most learners need scaffolding for critical thinking
    • Successful scaffolding = identification of processes that promote critical thinking
    • EXTERNALISATION
    • Externalization = manifestation of changes in thought and attitude in the environment
      • ARTICULATION
      • EVALUATIVE FEEDBACK
  • 12. Articulation
    • Articulation = expression of thought in language – verbally or in written form.
      • language is critical to organize one’s thinking (Schunk,1999)
      • the act of choosing words to represent our thoughts allows us to consider our ideas more deliberately (Vygotsky, 1987)
    • Even in the absence of an audience articulation should promote critical thinking (e.g., journal, self-talk) – implications for unreferenced messages and silence
        • The presence of an audience, should further promote critical thinking
  • 13. Articulation
        • The presence of an audience, should further promote critical thinking
          • writing for an audience helps learners engage in higher levels thinking by pushing them to ‘compact’ internal speech into a form that is understandable to others (Vygotsky, cited in Pugalee, 2004)
          • “ writers do not simply express thought but transform it in certain complex but describable ways for the needs of a reader “(Flower, 1997; p.20)
  • 14.
    • Hypothesis 1: Students who articulate their views more often manifest a higher level of critical thinking.
  • 15. Feedback
    • Expansive activity an increase in the number of ideas available to the individual (exchange of information)
      • enriches opportunities for discovering areas of cognitive conflict
      • does not necessarily have to lead to cognitive conflict
        • Learner has collector’s attitude
        • Learner does not discern conflicting ideas
        • Learner decides to bail out
    • Dialectical activity = individuals asking for clarification challenging ideas, presenting counter-ideas
      • Ensures opportunities for discovering areas of cognitive conflict
    • Feedback should be dialectical rather than expansive
  • 16.
    • Hypothesis 2. Looking across all students, those students who had more dialectical feedback on their posts will exhibit greater critical thinking .
  • 17. Scaffolding: Facilitator Role
    • Facilitation in this study will focus on:
      • Guidance to participate (articulation)
      • Guidance to evaluate (dialectical feedback)
  • 18.
    • Questions 3-5: To what extent will learners in the “Guidance to Evaluate” and “Guidance to Participate” scaffolding conditions differ in the:
      • quantity of contributions they make to online discussions?
      • quantity of critical thinking contributions they make to online discussions?
      • proportion of critical thinking contributions they make to online discussions?
  • 19. Methodology
  • 20. Participants & Context
    • 74 undergraduate Education students
    • Recruited from four sections from an Educational Psychology course
      • Mean age: 19.8
      • 97.2% English as mother tongue
      • 35.2% freshmen, 47.9% sophomores, 15.5% juniors, 1.4% seniors
      • 91.5% specialized in secondary education
      • 67.6% had no teaching experience
      • 71.8% had not experienced discussion forums before study
  • 21. Tasks Discussion scaffolding Case 1 Case 2 Warm-up No scaffolding Recall Test Group Report Asynchronous discussion forums Face-to-face
  • 22. Design
    • A single factor, between subjects design with two levels of scaffolding was used.
    • Participants were randomly assigned to one of two conditions - adding up to 10 groups per condition.
    • The treatments were administered only during the second case.
  • 23. Conditions
    • Focus on participation
    • Examples:
        • “ Any new ideas about the case, [name of group member]?”
        • “ [name of group member] and [name of group member] have expressed their thoughts about the case. What do you think?”
    • Individually prompted via e-mail
    • Every 24 hours as needed
    • Focus on evaluation & dialectical thinking
    • Examples:
        • “ Do you think these arguments are strong or weak? Why?”
        • “ Can you think of evidence that could support [name of other member in the group]’s claim?”
    • Individually prompted via e-mail
    • Every 24 hours as needed
    • “ Guidance to Participate” Condition
    • “ Guidance to Evaluate” Condition
  • 24. (Greenlaw & DeLoach, 2003) Level of critical thinking (Greenlaw & DeLoach, 2003) Level 6: consideration of ethical issues in decisions Level 5: use of empirical evidence to strengthen theoretical argument Level 4: use of theory to make a cohesive argument Level 3: analysis of an argument or competing arguments and evaluation with evidence Level 2: unsupported assertions, simplistic one-sided arguments Level 1: paraphrase, repetition Level 0: organizational and off-task
  • 25. Dependent Variables
    • Level of participation in the forum = total number of ideas units contributed by each student to the discussion.
    • Critical thinking coded according to Greenlaw and DeLoach (2003)
      • Quantity = number of idea units at Level 3+
      • Proportion = proportion of idea units at level 3 and above relative to the total number of ideas units
  • 26. Interviews and post-treatment questionnaire
    • Semi-structured interviews conducted to provide opportunity for reflection on the experience.
      • 9 participants were interviewed.
    • Post-treatment questionnaire designed and administered after the interviews to validate emerging themes.
      • Consisted of 30 Likert-scale items +four open-ended questions
      • 31 of the 74 participants answered the questionnaire.
  • 27. Findings & Discussion
  • 28. Data coding
      • Data was divided into idea units.
        • Budd, Thorp, and Donohue (1967) define idea unit as “a single thought unit … that conveys a single item of information extracted from a segment of content” (p. 34).
    • All data coded by two raters
    • Inter-rater reliability = 89% (Cohen’s Kappa=0.8) for discussion forums.
  • 29. Was the task motivating? Relevant?
    • Students found the cases relevant to the course and their future as teachers
      • 71% found that cases very relevant to their futures as teachers
      • 65% indicated that the cases helped them make the connection between theory and practice
      • 61% suggested that the case studies enhanced their understanding of the course concepts
  • 30.
    • “ It proves that what you’re learning in class is pertinent when you go out and become a teacher. …when ….I started this class, I didn’t see a point of understanding how people memorized things and how they recognize - you know, it just didn’t seem a point to taking the class. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about being in there. But um, to see that you actually will have to um, reflect over , - not really exactly the theories but at least the concepts of the theories …I think is important. And even not just in that class but in other classes. To kind of show that, “Yes, this is relevant and you will be faced with this.” “These are situations that have occurred.”
    • Karen
  • 31. What was the level of participation?
      • About 94% of the participants reported they had read the postings of other members in their group.
    • Students contributed:
      • 187 messages/week (1149 idea units)
      • 2.5 messages/person/week (15.53 units/person/week)
      • Participation was average (undergraduate)
  • 32. Contextual barriers
    • Lack of familiarity with experience of case study
    • Lack of clear expectations
    • Demands related to other courses
    • Technological problems with Oncourse
    • “ AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH / I am going to kill myself!!!!!! I just added a whole PAGE on ARCS model and now I can't find it to upload it..... I'll keep searching, if not I'll rewrite it.......... damn it!!!!!!!!!!!!”
    • Joseph
  • 33.
    • “ For me, it was, like, just having to sit down and think critically just…it’s just thinking about it. Like you weren’t gonna find the answer in a book. ….So, that was the hardest part just thinking of a good like, intelligent answer that has reasoning from the class and being able to portray those ideas to my group members. That’s probably why I only posted two or three times. Like, because it was just so hard to think of, to think of a good solution…..yeah.”
    • Laura
  • 34. What do students say about their experience?
    • 65% stated that “I supported my ideas with evidence from theories covered during the course.”
      • Only 13% reported difficulties with supporting their arguments with evidence
      • Informal analysis of the evidence shows support in the form of:
      • opinions , examples, and personal experiences
    • 68% indicated that the value of reading others’ posts lies in encountering different perspectives and examples.
    • 95% stated that it is more important to maintain group harmony than reach the best solution.
  • 35. What did students do in terms of critical thinking?
    • Level of critical thinking skills was rather low
    Critical Thinking Other Level of critical thinking (Greenlaw & DeLoach, 2003) Percentage Level 6: consideration of ethical issues in decisions 0% Level 5: use of empirical evidence to strengthen theoretical argument 0% Level 4: use of theory to make a cohesive argument 0.1%. Level 3: analysis of an argument or competing arguments and evaluation with evidence 7% Level 2: unsupported assertions, simplistic one-sided arguments 57.8% Level 1: paraphrase, repetition 23.3% Level 0: organizational and off-task 11.8%
  • 36. What did students do in terms of critical thinking?
    • Informal analysis of the evidence showed that students’ support of arguments was in the form of:
      • opinions
      • examples
      • personal experiences
    • Dialectical thinking (challenges, counter-arguments, and requests for clarification) 18 out of 1149 idea units (0.01%).
  • 37. Was there a relationship between level of participation & critical thinking? ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed). Total number of students Quantity of Critical Thinking Proportion of Critical Thinking Idea Units Total Idea Units Pearson Correlation 74 .511(**) .054
  • 38. Is there a relationship between level of participation & critical thinking?
    • Although increase in participation increased the number of critical thinking contributions in a discussion, it did not enhance the overall quality of discussion in terms of critical thinking density.
      • Significant positive relationship was found between level of participation and quantity of critical thinking.
      • No significant relationship was found between level of participation and proportion of critical thinking.
  • 39. Does “Guidance to Evaluate” result in greater participation and critical thinking? * Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level.
  • 40. Facilitator Scaffolding
    • There was a main effect for facilitator scaffolding on the proportion of critical thinking, but no impact for scaffolding for level of participation in the discussion.
      • Students in both conditions manifested very similar levels of participation.
      • Students in the “Guidance to Evaluate” condition had double the proportion of critical thinking compared to participants in the “Guidance Articulate” condition.
  • 41. Conclusions, Limitations & Future Research
  • 42. Conclusions
    • Case-based scenarios were relevant to students, but this was not enough to increase critical thinking and participation.
    • Participation was average and critical thinking was mediocre
      • Students had different perceptions of what good argumentation and evidence is.
      • Students had a negative attitude towards evaluation and emphasized harmony.
    • The findings provided partial support to the hypothesized relationship between articulation and critical thinking .
      • Facilitator scaffolding had a significant impact on students’ critical thinking, but not on participation.
  • 43. Future Research
      • Use scaffolding techniques that are more specific, explicit, and global
      • Examining the transfer and development of critical thinking skills
      • Use tasks that encourage or legitimize the use of dialectical thinking
      • Use communication tools that are more dynamic
      • Examine factors that impact critical thinking and participation in problem-based tasks
      • Contextual factors
      • Individual factors
      • Other factors?
  • 44. Suggestions for teaching
      • Use tasks that make critical thinking and dialectical thinking necessary and desirable.
        • Create a classroom in which critical thinking is fostered and rewarded
    • Scaffold critical thinking explicitly and concretely.
      • Show what good evidence is (e.g., modeling, just in time direct instruction)
      • Focus on what the individual specific feedback.
    • Focus on the quality of participation.
    • Setting concrete expectations.
    • Engage students in challenging activities for a longer period of time.
    • Vary communication tools according to the demands of the task.
  • 45. For more information please contact Gihan Osman at: [email_address] Thank you!
  • 46. Data Analysis
    • To examine these relationships, two forms of analysis were used. A hierarchical analysis of variance (HANOVA) followed by a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). We initially ran a HANOVA, rather than an ANOVA, in order to account for the possible group effect that might have resulted from the nested design used in this study (Walczuch & Watson, 2001).
    • If the initial HANOVAs revealed no significant group effects, the more powerful ANOVA technique was used.
  • 47. Limitations of the Study
    • No control group
    • Technological problems
    • Limited access to and control of participants
    • Face-to-face meetings