Instructional Science

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 251–269 | Cite as

Integrating direct and inquiry-based instruction in the teaching of critical thinking: an intervention study

  • Kelly Y. L. KuEmail author
  • Irene T. Ho
  • Kit-Tai Hau
  • Eva C. M. Lai


Critical thinking is a unifying goal of modern education. While past research has mostly examined the efficacy of a single instructional approach to teaching critical thinking, recent literature has begun discussing mixed teaching approaches. The present study examines three modes of instruction, featuring the direct instruction approach and the inquiry-based approach in different sequences and proportions, in enhancing Chinese secondary student’s critical thinking performance. A total of 651 Grade 12 students participated in an 18-hour intervention with pre- and post-intervention measures on critical thinking performance and critical thinking dispositions. Specifically, critical thinking assessments utilizing different response format were used. Those who received training showed greater improvement on at least one of the critical thinking assessments compared to those who received no training. Participants’ performances with regards to different critical thinking assessments are discussed. Benefits of adopting more than one instructional approach to teaching critical thinking are highlighted.


Critical thinking Instructional strategy Direct instruction Inquiry-based instruction Higher education 



The support by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (CUHK4713/06H) is gratefully acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kelly Y. L. Ku
    • 1
    Email author
  • Irene T. Ho
    • 2
  • Kit-Tai Hau
    • 3
  • Eva C. M. Lai
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Education StudiesHong Kong Baptist UniversityHong KongHong Kong
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong
  3. 3.Department of Educational PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongHong KongHong Kong

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