Facilitating a student-educator conceptual model of dispositions towards critical thinking through interactive management

Abstract

Critical thinking (CT) is a metacognitive process, consisting of a number of sub-skills and dispositions that, when used appropriately, increases the chances of producing a logical conclusion to an argument or solution to a problem. Though the CT literature argues that dispositions are as important to CT as is the ability to perform CT skills, the majority of research in the area has focused on CT skills. In addition, though most CT interventions are designed based on academic or expert definitions of CT, students are rarely, if ever, asked to guide their instruction by describing their perspectives on what constitutes CT. Thus, the current study used interactive management to examine similarities and differences in the way students and educators conceptualise CT dispositions. Interactive management (IM) is a computer-assisted process that allows a group to build a consensus-based structural model describing relations between elements in a system. Consistent with previous research, it is suggested that addressing how students conceptualise CT may provide a starting point to negotiate and innovative the CT curriculum and learning process. Furthermore, evaluating similarities and differences in the way students and educators understand CT dispositions may facilitate the building of complementary and integrative models of CT dispositions that reflect the full range of perspectives in University teaching environments. Results of the current study suggest that while students’ conceptualisation of CT dispositions was largely consistent with both the educators’ conceptualisation and dispositions highlighted in the extant literature, students’ descriptions were broader, less abstract and more concrete accounts of CT dispositions; and were also primarily focused on utility or function rather than ideal principles of action. Results are discussed in light of research and theory on CT and best practice for CT instruction.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For a full technical description, see: http://www.nuigalway.ie/media/nuigalwayie/content/files/collegesschools/businesspublicpolicylaw/documentsforms/Collaborative-Systems-Software-and-Technical-Description-of-IM-methodology.docx.

  2. 2.

    Though there is no standard percentage of votes that should be used to determine a ‘yes’ entry, it should be at least 51 %. Indeed, Warfield (1994) often used a 51 % majority, but depending on the circumstances and judged importance of degree of consensus in the model construction process, a higher percentage is often used. In these collaborative model building situations, there is often considerable discussion in advance of model structuring decisions; and thus, in the context of developing a consensus-based student-educator model of CT dispositions, as proposed by Dwyer, Hogan, et al. (2014b), a relatively high degree of consensus for each relation in the model (i.e. a 70 % ‘yes’ vote) was deemed reasonable.

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Correspondence to Christopher P. Dwyer.

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Dwyer, C.P., Hogan, M.J., Harney, O.M. et al. Facilitating a student-educator conceptual model of dispositions towards critical thinking through interactive management. Education Tech Research Dev 65, 47–73 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-016-9460-7

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Keywords

  • Critical thinking
  • Dispositions
  • Interactive management
  • Collective intelligence