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Changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking 2007

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Changes in Teachers' Conceptions of Critical Thinking by Evelyn Loewen Bachelor of Religious Studies, Canadian Mennonite University, 1981 Bachelor of Arts, University of Winnipeg, 1983 Bachelor of Education, University of Victoria, 1987 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Curriculum Studies) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 2007 © Evelyn Loewen, 2007 ABSTRACT This study investigated the changes in teachers ' concept ions of critical thinking as they implemented a new curriculum resource that was based on a critical thinking approach. It descr ibed the teachers ' ideas about the purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking. It a lso took into account the changes in teachers ' concept ions of critical thinking within the unique context of a fai th-based independent schoo l . The school was located in a large metropolitan district in British Co lumbia . Three intermediate teachers (grades five and six) in one elementary school were interviewed at the beginning, middle and end of the implementation period to gather their percept ions about teaching critical thinking while using the new materials. The interview transcripts were ana lyzed for indicators of change for each teacher 's concept ion of teaching critical thinking, and then analyzed for similarities and differences between the teachers ' reported exper iences. It was found that the first year teacher, who was very knowledgeable about the new resource through her university training, exper ienced change by way of disappointment from unmet expectat ions and struggled to implement the critical thinking pedagogy and curriculum content due to various complexit ies assoc ia ted with being a beginning teacher. Another teacher with a dozen years of c lassroom exper ience enthusiastical ly implemented the new unit and was highly focused on the execut ion of the lessons. She , however, did not invest t ime in 11 reviewing the introductory information where the critical thinking concept ion and pedagogical approach were expla ined. Consequent ly , her concept ion of critical thinking and pedagogy did not change significantly. The third participant had twenty-six years of exper ience in the study school and p o s s e s s e d a basic understanding of critical thinking. S h e was hesitant to be involved in implementing a new curriculum resource because she anticipated being stretched professionally. Ultimately, she exper ienced ongoing changes in her concept ion of critical thinking that affected various aspects of her work as a c lassroom teacher. Al l three participants indicated the value of teaching critical thinking in tandem with the faith perspect ive that is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum at this particular independent schoo l . in TABLE OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T ii T A B L E O F C O N T E N T S iv C H A P T E R O N E : Purpose 1 C H A P T E R T W O : Rev iew of the Literature 5 Factors Affecting Implementation 5 The Crit ical Thinking Concept ion 8 C H A P T E R T H R E E : Resea rch Des ign 15 Methodological Orientation 15 Select ion of the Schoo l 16 Select ion of the Part icipants 19 Role of the Researche r 20 Data Col lect ion 21 Data Ana lys is 23 Limitations 24 C H A P T E R F O U R : The C a s e s 25 Mrs. Smith 26 Teacher profile and c lass room context 27 Purposes for teaching critical thinking 29 Benefi ts of teaching critical thinking 32 Prob lems encountered while teaching critical thinking 34 Condi t ions requite to teaching critical thinking 36 Crit ical thinking within the school context 38 Summary 40 Mrs. B lack 40 Teacher profile and c lassroom context 42 Purposes for teaching critical thinking 44 Benefi ts of teaching critical thinking 47 Prob lems encountered while teaching critical thinking 49 Condi t ions requite to teaching critical thinking 54 Crit ical thinking within the schoo l context 56 Summary 57 Mrs. Jay 58 Teacher profile and c lass room context 59 Purposes for teaching critical thinking 62 iv Benefits of teaching critical thinking 66 Prob lems encountered while teaching critical thinking 68 Condi t ions requite to teaching critical thinking 71 Crit ical thinking within the school context 73 Summary 76 C H A P T E R F IVE : Ana lys is of the C a s e s 77 Mrs. Smith 77 Mrs. Black 83 Mrs. Jay 90 Conc lus ion 98 C H A P T E R SIX: Summary and D iscuss ion 103 Summary 103 Discuss ion 105 R E F E R E N C E S 112 A P P E N D I C E S Append ix A : Letter of Introduction 115 Append ix B: Consen t Letter 117 Append ix C : Quest ionnaire #1 and #2 119 Append ix D: Letter Accompany ing Quest ionnai res 123 Append ix E: Interview Quest ions 125 Append ix F: Letter Accompany ing F o c u s Group/Interview S e s s i o n s . . . . 126 Append ix G : Survey 128 Append ix H: Fol low-up Interview Quest ions 129 Append ix I: F o c u s Group Quest ions 131 Append ix J : B R E B Certif icate of Approva l . : 132 CHAPTER ONE Purpose Teachers naturally have an interest in how their students think, and most of them seek to use effective strategies that support improvement in their pupils' cognit ive p rocesses . Crit ical thinking is a term that is familiar to educators—famil iar enough that they would be able to readily supply a descript ion of what it is, and offer examples of the ways that they employ it in their c lassrooms. However, a c loser examinat ion of those definitions would reveal that there is in fact a considerable range of teachers ' concept ions of what critical thinking is that may include, for example, descript ions of creative thinking or problem-solving skil ls. A n d from this range of descript ions of critical thinking flows an even greater diversity of c lassroom appl icat ions representing each individual teacher 's concept ion of critical thinking. Of interest to this qualitative c a s e study was the unfolding of three teachers ' concept ions about critical thinking as they began to work with a new curriculum resource that exemplif ied a concept ion and methodology of teaching critical thinking that was different from their currently held definitions and c lassroom pract ices. T h e purpose of this study w a s to examine the ways in which teachers ' concept ions of critical thinking changed as they used Critical Challenges, materials publ ished by The Crit ical Thinking Consort ium (Case & Misfeldt, 2002; C a s e , 2004). The question and sub-quest ions were as fol lows: 1 How do elementary teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking change while teaching a unit that exempli f ies a new critical thinking pedagogy? • What are teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking prior to using new critical thinking materials in their c lass rooms? • What are the teachers ' reactions to the new materials while using them in their c lass rooms? • What are teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking after having used the new materials for six to eight weeks in their c lass rooms? • In what ways does the learning community context (a fai th-based independent school) interact with the teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking? A s p e c t s of teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking that were of interest in this study included the following: the purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking to elementary schoo l students. The primary reason why I did this study s tems from my deep interest in learning. I bel ieve that teachers who fully engage in professional learning are more motivated to enhance the quality of the learning exper iences they provide for their students. Regrettably, teachers somet imes resist making changes in their pedagogy, often due to a decis ion that the costs of time and effort overrule the potential benefits. Somet imes , it takes a "conversion exper ience" in the way a teacher conceptual izes an aspect of his/her teaching in order to venture out with 2 something new. The conundrum that interests me is the dialectic way in which a new teaching practice may nudge a new way of thinking, or the way in which a new concept ion of teaching may prompt new pedagogy. In the twenty-first century, teachers, educat ional leaders and parents agree that critical thinking is vital to teach our s tudents—even during the primary years. A n d yet, the misconcept ions of critical thinking abound and what gets credited by teachers as a "critical thinking lesson" are often incidental or accidental learning events in the c lassroom, or perhaps a "thinking exerc ise" done in isolation. Wil l teaching critical thinking lessons using a new approach reboot and re-route a teacher 's concept ions and pedagogy? This question is worth pursuing. The findings of this study will be beneficial to researchers interested in understanding the process of change as teachers encounter new critical thinking curr iculum. As ide from some anecdotal feedback from public school districts and teachers, there is a lack of research on the Critical Challenges curriculum materials; this study will be of interest to The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium. The select ion of a fai th-based independent school as the site for this research is also relevant. The phi losophical context of the school—the schoo l publicly states that its mission is to educate students from a biblical worldview perspect ive—provides insight into the ways teachers reflect on their teaching pract ices with regard to their personal and communal beliefs about education (in this case , from an evangel ica l Christ ian perspective.) Finally, for the benefit of the numerous 3 independent schoo ls in British Co lumbia , and fai th-based schools across North Amer i ca , this study contributes to the lack of research done in these distinctive learning communit ies. 4 CHAPTER TWO Review of the Literature This chapter sets a context in light of two current literatures relevant to the research quest ion. First, selected literature on teacher change with a speci f ic focus on factors affecting implementation of an innovation is presented. Secondly , the concept ion of critical thinking espoused by The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium (TC2) is summar ized . Factors Affecting Implementation A n innovation refers to something "new" related to a potential user. Th is may include, for example, a new curriculum policy, instructional strategy or teaching materials. For the past fifty years, researchers have searched for factors that explain why teachers use innovations in the ways in which they do. Al though these lists of factors are var ied, authors have used them to build theories of implementation (Evans, 1996). O n e of the best known and most influential theorists is Michael Ful lan from the University of Toronto. Ful lan (2007) def ines implementation as the user 's p rocess of developing meaning for an innovation around what it is, why it is important, how it differs from current practice, what it implies for the user, etc. The initial meanings that teachers give to curr iculum materials will affect the nature and extent of further implementation. "The crux of change involves the development of meaning in 5 relation to a new idea. . . . Meaning has both cognitive (knowledge) and affective (moral) d imensions. Both must be cultivated and connected" (Fullan, 2007, p. 104). Ful lan's theory of implementation identifies nine factors assoc ia ted with the development of meaning; four focus on the innovation, and five relate to the context in which the innovation is used. The first four are defined from the point of view of a user: perceived need, perceived clarity, perceived complexity, and perceived practicality (Ful lan, 2007, pp. 87-92). Of the five factors related to context, four local factors pertain to the social condit ions in which the changes occur, namely the actions and attitudes of the teacher, administrator, school community, and district. T h e role of the government is an external factor. "The more factors supporting implementation, the more change in practice will be accompl ished" (2007, p. 86). B e c a u s e my study focuses on teachers ' perceptions of a new concept ion of critical thinking as carried by curriculum materials, Ful lan's first four factors provide an important framework for interpreting the teachers ' reactions to implementation. There are several considerat ions to be mindful of when looking at a user 's perceived need for an innovation. W h o s e need is it? Whether an innovation is mandatory or voluntary has implications for its desirability. The priority or "degree" to which an innovation is needed over and against other perceived needs also affects the implementation process. Further, one must be 6 aware that the perceived need may change over time, either increasing or diminishing its re levance as the costs and benefits of the innovation unfold during its use. The felt need is in constant interaction with the evolving percept ions of clarity, complexity, and practicality of the innovation. In particular, need is dependent on the degree of clarity one has about the innovation itself. Clarity is a constant problem in the change process. Teachers may or may not be clear about what is to be changed—how the materials and methods are different and supposedly an improvement to what is currently in place. A s the innovation is implemented, things may become more clear or unclear. Lack of clarity can surface around the materials themselves, the teaching methods required and the goa ls and purposes for them. W h e n a proposed change is interpreted in an oversimplif ied way, there is "false clarity" and the user will be unaware that there is substantial ly more to the innovation than is real ized. A s problematic as clarity is to achieve, both conceptual ly and procedurally, it is essent ia l to "work on it" if change is to occur in the intended direction. Complexi ty refers to the nature of the change process—the difficulties encountered and the extent to which things are different. "The actual amount depends on the starting point for any individual or group, but the main idea is that any change can be examined with regard to difficulty, skill required, and extent in alteration of beliefs, teaching strategies, and use of materials" (Ful lan, 2007, p. 90). The amount of complexity exper ienced is affected by how much change is 7 being attempted; Ful lan reports that although complex reforms hold more promise for change than simpler innovations, they require considerably more focus and energy during implementation (2007, p. 91). The fourth factor affecting implementation is perceived practicality: teachers must feel that the innovation is feasible. It needs to be seen as appropriate and carry the potential for improved student learning (Evans, 1996, p. 85). The tempo and pressures of daily life in the c lassroom affect teachers ' receptivity to an innovation; if it is not perceived as doable, change is unlikely. To be feasible, the proposed change must address teachers ' perceived needs, be focused and clear and s e e m manageab le in scope and complexity. The major means for developing meaning in the direction of the four factors include collegial talk while teachers are attempting to put an innovation into practice. Through this combinat ion of "planning" and "doing," the factors of perceived need, clarity, complexity, and practicality can be addressed : New meanings, new behaviors, new skil ls, and new beliefs depend significantly on whether teachers are working as isolated individuals or are exchanging ideas, support, and positive feel ings about their work. The quality of working relationships among teachers is strongly related to implementation. Collegiality, open communicat ion, trust, support and help, learning on the job, getting results, and job satisfaction and morale are c losely interrelated. (Ful lan, 2007, p. 97) 8 The Critical Thinking Conception Crit ical thinking has received a significant amount of attention by teachers and principals, curriculum special ists, teacher educators, and school reform advocates for decades . There is little controversy over the value of teaching critical thinking a s a goal and m e a n s for student learning. But a s C a s e and Wright point out, "There is a rather depress ing irony: thinking critically is much valued and yet inadequately addressed in the c lassroom" (Case and Wright, 1997, p. 179). Part of the reason lies in the perennial quest ions—"what is it?" and "how do we teach i t?"—voiced by practitioners and scholars alike. In the quest for determining what critical thinking means , the field of socia l studies has hosted its share of quarrels. Sea rs and Parsons (1997) briefly outline two examples : "content versus process" debates reflect teacher uncertainties between "covering the content" and teaching students "how to" address issues and value quest ions, and "strategy versus ethic" debates a s s u m e that critical thinking is either a "ser ies of s teps or p lanned exerc ises" or a "way of living in and addressing the world" (pp. 171-173). Un less teachers are "extremely committed to critical thinking," the outcome of these debates and uncertainties is likely a path of least resistance: cover the curriculum content and inject some isolated "higher order thinking" techniques in their methodology (Sears and Parsons , 1997). But adhering to an ethic of critical thinking demands the adoption of a concept ion of critical thinking that can become part of one 's phi losophy of life. 9 Critical thinking as an ethic implies several fundamental principles that cannot be learned, but must be exper ienced. It is incumbent on teachers at all levels to embody an ethic of critical thinking in their own teaching if they ser iously expect to prepare thoughtful, independent-minded cit izens (p. 177). There are five foundational principles developed by Sea rs and Parsons (1997) which support the ethic: 1. Knowledge is not f ixed, but a lways subject to re-examination and change. 2. There is no quest ion which cannot, or should not be asked . 3. Awa reness of, and empathy for, alternate worldviews is essent ia l . 4. There is need of tolerance for ambiguity. 5. There is a need for a skeptical attitude towards text. They conc lude that: "Only those educators committed in this way to a socia l studies program that supports critical thinking will persevere in the face of the considerable obstac les" to implementation (p. 173). Essent ial ly, the ethic of critical thinking involves two things: a set of beliefs and a personal commitment to them (Sears and Parson , 1997; C a s e and Wright, 1997; Pau l , 1993). This represents ownership of a concept ion. Many authors have articulated competing conceptual izat ions of critical thinking, particularly s ince the 1970s (e.g., M c P e c k , 1990; Norris, 1990; Pau l , 1993; L ipman, 1988). They all agree, however, that promoting critical thinking involves much more than some teaching techniques. It represents a broader concept ion. Richard Pau l rightly asser ts that until a substant ive concept ion of critical thinking is imparted to teachers, things will not change. 10 Few faculty recognize what it takes to transform instruction so that students routinely use their thinking to take ownership of course content. Few faculty know or use learning strategies that enable students to think analytically through content. F e w understand critical thinking as a set of tools for acquir ing knowledge. F e w understand what it means to teach content as thinking (2005, p. 36). The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium materials, however, do take up this chal lenge. They begin with a complex concept ion of what critical thinking is, what it is not, and how it is to be taught (Bail in, C a s e , C o o m b s , & Daniels, 1999a; Bail in et al . , 1999b). A foundational document developed for the Ministry of Educat ion in British Co lumb ia , A Conception of Critical Thinking for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment (Bailin et al . , 1993), was written to make "the teaching of critical thinking clear and manageab le" for teachers and curriculum developers (Darling and Wright, 2004, p. 249). A conc ise definition w a s a lso offered: "Crit ical thinking involves thinking through problematic situations about what to bel ieve or how to act where the thinker makes reasoned judgments that embody the qualit ies of a competent thinker" (Case and Daniels, 2003). C lass room implementation of this definition entails four tasks for the teacher: 1. "Build a community of thinkers within the school and c lassroom." Nurturing a c lassroom where reflective inquiry is valued is considered the most influential factor in support ing the development of students' critical thinking. A commitment to ongoing opportunities a longside self- and peer- evaluation and teacher model ing are necessary . 2. "Infuse opportunities for critical thinking—what we call critical challenges— throughout the curriculum." There are four criteria that determine what 11 constitutes a critical chal lenge: the question or task must require a reasonable judgment based on the assessmen t of options; it must be meaningful or relevant to the students; it must incorporate the curriculum content in a substantial way; and, it must provide support for students as they utilize the intellectual tools in working through the chal lenge. 3. "Develop the intellectual tools that will enable students to become competent critical thinkers." The five major tools are defined as follows: Background knowledge—the information about the topic required for thoughtful reflection; Criteria for judgment—the considerat ion or grounds for deciding which of the alternatives is the most sensib le or appropriate; Critical thinking vocabulary—the range of concepts and distinctions that are helpful when thinking critically; Thinking strategies—the repertoire of heurist ics, organizing dev ices, models and algorithms that may be useful when thinking through a critical thinking problem; Habits of mind—the values and attitudes of a careful and conscient ious thinker. They include: open-minded, fair-minded, independent-minded, and inquiring or "critical" attitude. 4. "On a continuing basis assess students' competence in using the intellectual tools to think through critical chal lenges." Students will come to understand the importance of critical thinking if a focus on "how wel l" they exhibit the qualit ies of a competent thinker is susta ined. (Case , 2004, pp. viii- xi). To help teachers understand these tasks, the Consort ium produced curriculum materials that exemplify the pedagogy of critical thinking within var ious subject 12 areas and grade levels. The two salient features of the materials are their embedding critical thinking within curriculum content, and their explicit focus on teaching students appropriate "tools" for thinking through problems. For example, the introductory sect ion of these exemplars state that: Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum is an ongoing ser ies of teacher resources focused on infusing critical thinking into every schoo l subject. Two features distinguish this ser ies from many other publications supporting critical thinking—our content embedded approach and our emphas is on teaching the intellectual tools. Our approach is to embed critical thinking by presenting focused quest ions to chal lenges that invite critical student reflection about the content of the curr iculum. W e do not see critical thinking as a gener ic set of skil ls or p rocesses that can be developed independent of content and context. Nor do we bel ieve that critical thinking can adequately be addressed as an add-on to the curriculum. Rather, critical thinking is profitably v iewed as a way of teaching the content of the curriculum. Teachers can help students understand the subject matter, as opposed to merely recal l it, by providing continuing opportunities for thoughtful analysis of issues that are central to the curriculum. The second distinguishing feature of this ser ies is its emphas is on systematical ly teaching a full range of tools for critical thinking. Much of the frustration that teachers exper ience when inviting students to think critically s tems from students' lack of the relevant intellectual tools. No doubt some students will f igure things out for themselves, but most of the rest will perform at higher levels if they have the requisite tools for the job. For this reason, every critical chal lenge is accompan ied with a list of the tools needed to respond competently, and considerable attention is paid in the suggested activities to detail ing how these tools may be taught and a s s e s s e d (Case and Misfeldt, 2002, p. iv; C a s e , 2004, p. iv). In short, the Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum materials are intended to make "critical thinking 'a way of life in the c lassroom'" (Evans and Hundey, 2004, p. 226). To this end, there has been a project to have resources developed by 13 teachers and del ivered to c lassrooms in several provinces during the last decade . (There are 22 Critical Challenges avai lable according to the online catalogue; http:// tc2.ca/pdf/Forms/cataloq11-06.pdf. retrieved September 2007). To date there is no publ ished research examining the implementation of these resources. This study is among the first to explore the t ransmission of a concept ion of critical thinking through these materials. 14 CHAPTER THREE Research Design This chapter descr ibes the study's research design including methodological orientation, select ion of the schoo l , select ion of the participants, role of the researcher, data col lect ion, data analysis, and limitations. Methodological Orientation This study was orientated within an interpretive paradigm that did not attempt to predict or control the outcome, but rather, al lowed for meaning to be constructed by the participants in the natural schoo l setting a s the study proceeded. The ontological assumpt ion of this paradigm was that "reality is subjective and multiple" (Cresswel l , 1998, p. 75), thereby implying that the research data would consist of participants' quotes that exemplify their understanding of critical thinking. I chose to conduct this research as a collective instrumental case study (Cresswel l , 1998, p.62). It was collective in that it focused on three teachers (or cases ) within the same school context for their personal perspect ives on teaching critical thinking. It was an instrumental case study because it focused on the "object" being studied, namely the process of changing concept ions. In the tradition of case studies, this research was bounded by a core time frame (eight weeks) in which the critical thinking lessons were being taught, but with the 15 except ion of one follow-up interview at the end of the school year to ascertain if the findings still held true. B e c a u s e of the dominant use of interviews, this investigation had strong overtones of a phenomenologica l study; indeed, this research sought to "get inside people 's heads" (Palys, 2003, p. 433) to understand change as it was actually exper ienced and not how change might have been intended (Ful lan, 2007, p. 8). The purpose was descript ive as opposed to explanatory. Selection of the School The criterion used in selecting an elementary school was unfamiliarity with the Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium's concept ion of critical thinking. The likelihood that participating teachers had never heard of this particular approach to teaching critical thinking or had not seen the Critical Challenges materials increased when an entire school community was unaware of it. S ince the consort ium had been network-building in public schoo ls across the province for several years, a search among independent schoo ls found severa l potential si tes that fit the criterion. Administrators of these sites were contacted to determine the feasibility of this project. S ince the study would be using materials from Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum ser ies as its "new" teaching materials, I needed to know if the teachers had used any of these materials. Addit ionally, I needed to know whether the teachers ' existing concept ions of critical thinking were "different" from the pract ices that are promoted in the materials. 16 The study school was favoured over others because of the value it p laced on teaching critical thinking as publ ished in their vision statement. The fact that it was a fai th-based school was circumstantial and not a criterion for select ion; it subscr ibed to a protestant evangel ical Christ ian worldview. Every effort in select ing the school was focused on the contextual condit ions that rendered the innovation as "new" as possib le. The administrators permitted me to briefly introduce my proposal and conduct a survey during a staff meeting in June 2006 (Appendix G) . The survey asked teachers the following two quest ions: • Wha t is critical thinking? • In what ways have you incorporated critical thinking into your lessons this past year? The written responses (n=27) to these two quest ions confirmed the wide range of definitions and c lassroom pract ices held by the teachers, and that the school would be a suitable choice for my research. The administrators were very support ive of this study and voiced a keen interest in the findings. To understand the local context of this study, a descript ion of the school begins with the school 's vision statement which is publ ished as fol lows: "[Our] school nurtures students in Christ-l ike living, critical thinking and joyful serv ice, to become effective members of the Christ ian community in G o d ' s world" (emphasis added). Al though no precise date of when this statement was adopted by the 17 schoo l community could be attained, the best est imate was1992-1993. S ince that time, the school had offered little professional development around the teaching of critical thinking. The principal, who was not at the school when the vision statement was penned, stated that it was communal ly developed by staff, parents and board members . The statement was also featured in his address to the students in their schoo l handbook; he felt it "served as a reference point" and desired it to be "a constant reminder as to our purpose." The 2006-2007 "devotional theme" selected by the staff w a s based on the Bible verse, " C h o o s e for yourse lves this day whom you will serve" (Joshua 24:15). He pointed out that because this theme highlighted the notion of choice, it demonstrated the integration of all three aspec ts of the vision statement, including the necessi ty of critical thinking. The weekly chapel assembl ies were student-led and all the homeroom c lasses took turns developing this theme in their presentat ions. The school is located in a large metropolitan district in British Co lumbia , C a n a d a , and has been in existence for forty-five years. At the time of this study, it offered educat ion programs from preschool through to grade twelve; on the elementary campus there were 550 students enrol led from preschool to grade seven , representing various ethnic backgrounds and specia l needs. The teaching staff in the elementary school numbered thirty-nine; an addit ional sixteen specia l educat ion assistants plus twenty-seven other support workers brought the total to 18 sixty-six. The school had a friendly atmosphere and it was evident in the staff lounge that mutual respect and appreciat ion existed between "all the team players." The administrators appreciated the professional ism of their teachers, and descr ibed themselves as a "c lose" community where parents demonstrated their dedicat ion to the schoo l in their wi l l ingness to help. The schoo l hal lways were marked by positive interactions between students and adults; "it's not necessary to patrol," quipped the principal. The entrance to the school featured a display of a school in Afr ica. A recent longer-term project undertaken by their staff and famil ies had resulted in the construction of a brand new schoo l in Zamb ia ; the principal had just returned from "cutting the ribbon." This example is one of many which indicate that the school 's "life-style policy" is actively in effect: it supports the vision statement by advocat ing student participation in projects that reflect local and global ci t izenship. The policy views critical thinking as an integral part of the process because seriously exploring the real issues in their world will foster students' s e n s e of "Christ ian responsibil ity" and motivation to serve. In their city, this school has a reputation for "making a difference" because its environmental conservat ion projects were reported in the local newspaper. Selection of the Participants B e c a u s e the study required volunteers to implement Critical Challenges materials in the socia l studies ser ies, they needed to be teaching socia l studies 19 to students in grades one to seven . A s mentioned earlier, the resource a lso needed to be "new" to the participants. In June, a letter of introduction outlining the purpose of the research was sent to the school for distribution to all the teachers (Appendix A) , fol lowed by a consent letter/form (Appendix B) that provided expectat ions regarding data collection. Opportunity was given to greet teachers and explain the research proposal at a staff meeting in June , 2006. The administrators then promoted this project by promising c lassroom release time for the interviews and explaining that the piloting of these critical thinking materials would fulfill teachers ' annual professional development requirements. The potential participants were informed about the curriculum topics avai lable but not given opportunity to peruse the Critical Challenges before giving consent. They chose their teaching materials later on. Of the four teachers who volunteered, three were able to participate. Role of the Researcher In keeping with an inductive approach, I v iewed my role as an active learner, attempting to understand and "tell the story" from the participants' perspect ive. I made every effort to represent the participants' responses with accuracy and respect. It was incumbent on me to exerc ise reflexivity, that is, to be sufficiently mindful of my own beliefs and b iases so that I could execute this study with integrity (Glesne, 2006, p. 6). 20 Aspec ts of my background that helped lessen the distance between myself as researcher and the participants included the following: • I w a s an elementary schoo l teacher for two d e c a d e s in severa l fa i th-based independent schoo ls and therefore was equipped to understand the values, perspect ives, language, and pract ices in this distinct learning community. • ! had not taught the Critical Challenges lessons before, and therefore did not hold preconcept ions about how materials should be integrated and used. • Due to my work as a curriculum developer in the past six years, I had a col legial relationship with a few teachers in the schoo l ; however, I had no former associat ion with the three participants. During the interviews and focus group sess ions , any explanat ions or clarif ications given to the participants regarding the concept ion of critical thinking were minimal and done with caution s ince the purpose of the study was to investigate the impact that the stand-alone materials were having on their understandings and teaching practice. Guiding and supporting their thinking about the materials occurred through probing quest ions and rephrasing their comments . Data Collection The following list outlines the data sources I used to conduct my investigation: 21 1. A written survey consist ing of two quest ions were asked of all the teachers in the study schoo l in June, 2006 (Appendix G) . Its purpose w a s to gather data about teachers ' definitions and pract ices of critical thinking to determine if the materials to be implemented would be new. 2. Two identical quest ionnaires were administered, one prior to teaching the unit (September) and then after complet ion (December) (Appendices C and D). The data were transcribed and incorporated into the case summar ies . T h e nine interviews (across three participants at the beginning, middle and end of the implementation period) were anchored by the s a m e five quest ions thus ensur ing data col lection cons is tency while looking for the indicators of change in the teachers ' concept ions of critical thinking over t ime. The purpose w a s to gather data about e a c h teacher 's concept ion of critical thinking in written form. 3. Three semi-structured audio-taped interviews with e a c h of the volunteers occurred during the beginning (September or October), middle (October or November) and end (November or December) of the teaching unit (Appendices E and F). E a c h 45-minute interview was transcribed, summar ized , and given to the participant for approval . The purpose was to collect data about each teacher 's concept ion of critical thinking through dialogue with the researcher. 4. Two focus group meetings were held (September and November) in order to facilitate col legial d iscuss ion among the participants (Appendix I). The semi-structured d iscuss ions were audio-taped, t ranscr ibed, summar ized, 22 and made avai lable to each participant for approval . Their purpose was to gather further data about the participants' concept ions of critical thinking. 5. A follow-up interview (May, 2007) was audio-taped, summar ized and made avai lable to each participant. It w a s a lso semi-structured but did not repeat the s a m e quest ions asked in the earlier interviews (Appendix H). The purposes were to attain teacher profile information, gather data that would verify the information that had been col lected during the previous three interviews and col lect any new data about e a c h teacher 's concept ion of critical thinking. Data Analysis The process of individual or "within c a s e " ana lyses of the three participants (chapter four) went as follows: 1. The survey was used to establ ish each teacher 's definition and practice of teaching critical thinking prior to the study. 2. The two identical quest ionnaires (pre and post) were qualitatively ana lyzed for indications of change in regards to teachers ' reported purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking. 3. E a c h audio-taped interview was transcribed and then ana lyzed for indicators of change in the same manner as the pre and post quest ionnaires. The data a lso included teachers ' ideas about teaching critical thinking within the context of the school 's phi losophy of educat ion. 2 3 4. Anecdota l notes taken during the two focus meetings were also analyzed for indicators of change. 5. Fol lowing "within case " ana lyses of the three participants, a c ross -case analys is was done for similarities and differences among the c a s e s (chapter five). Criteria for compar ing the extent of change were: perceived need, clarity, complexity, and practicality (Ful lan, 2007). Limitations This study focused only on initial implementation, that is, the very early s tage of understanding and using an innovation. For all three participants this investigation reported only on their "first t ime" use of the materials. G iven the short length, an eight week teaching time frame, the study did not look for indicators of sustainabil ity which would be appropriately considered had I monitored changes over multiple attempts of using the materials. Ideally, the teachers would have implemented the unit s imultaneously and therefore undergone the beginning, middle and end phases of the unit's instruction side by s ide. In reality the start dates were staggered by about three weeks . The frustrated first year teacher felt isolated because the exper ienced teachers were not yet implementing the program, and this limited timely conversat ion among the teachers. 24 CHAPTER FOUR The Cases This chapter gives separate accounts of how three teachers ' concept ions of critical thinking changed during the three months while they used the Critical Challenges socia l studies curriculum resources in their c lassrooms. The c a s e s are sequenced from the teacher with the least to the one with the most years of teaching exper ience, namely Mrs. Smith (first year), Mrs. Black (twelve years), and finally Mrs. Jay (twenty-eight years). Provided in the teacher profiles are descr ipt ions of each teacher 's background and their percept ions of their relationship to change, fol lowed by a summary of the c lassroom contexts in which they were implementing the new critical thinking unit. Next are the individual teacher 's definition of critical thinking and some examples of learning activities that exemplify incorporation of critical thinking into the c lassroom prior to this study. This is fol lowed by descript ions of the interview comments relevant to the purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking. Attention is then given to each teacher 's v iews of critical thinking within the context of the study schoo l . Fol lowing these descript ions is a brief summary of the indicators of change. Interview quotes are referenced to indicate when they occurred. For example , (20) refers to the second interview held in the month of October, and (3N) refers to the third interview, which occurred in November. Quotes taken from a focus group sess ion appear in the following manner: ( F G 1 S ) references focus group 25 sess ion number one which occurred in September. Un less otherwise referenced, all quotes cited within the introductory paragraphs (re: teacher background, relationship to change and c lassroom context) were recorded in May 2007. Mrs. Smith This summary documents the exper iences of Mrs. Smith, a grade five teacher who implemented the Critical Challenges curriculum materials for the first time while negotiating the complexit ies of being a first year teacher. Unlike the other two teachers in this study, Mrs. Smith 's familiarity with Critical Challenges through her university training afforded her a solid theoretical understanding of the critical thinking approach and an enthusiasm for teaching the Managing our Natural Wealth unit. Her excitement about Critical Challenges was evident in a staff meet ing in September when she endorsed the critical thinking curriculum and was thereby instrumental in encouraging the other two co l leagues to participate in this study. Al though she remained positive about Critical Challenges, her exper ience with the socia l studies unit became laborious, eroded her enthusiasm and resulted in disappointment. Interviews were scheduled as fol lows: 1. September 28, 2006 (1S) 2. October 18, 2006 (20) 3. November 14, 2006 (3N) 26 4. May 28, 2007 (4M) Focus Group sess ions : 1. September 28, 2006 ( F G 1 S ) 2. November 14, 2006 (FG2N) Teacher profile and classroom context Mrs. Smith is a first year teacher launching her career in the study school . Her previous teaching exper ience is limited to pract icums while in the professional training year at the local university. Signif icant is the fact that she is a graduate of the study schoo l ; after an interlude at university to ach ieve her teaching credentials she was warmly we lcomed back into the school community as a col league. Thinking back on her recent practicum reports, she descr ibed herself as an organized, fun and nurturing teacher. W h e n asked about her teaching style, she replied, "organized but flexible; I like to try new things but obviously everything is new right now." S h e stated that her tendency to be structured and organized equated to a more traditional style but hastened to add that she prefers a ba lance between some traditional and some less traditional approaches. It totally depends on my energy level. Like at the beginning of the year I tried to do as many of the different and on-the-edge and hands-on stuff as I could. A n d then there are t imes when my energy is low and the kids are a bit crazier and then I return to the traditional approach—more of a (I don't want to say note-taking), but more worksheets, because I need to bring [the students and the lessons] back on track. (4M) 27 Mrs. Smith recognized that her teaching style is highly experimental because it w a s her first year of teaching. Al though she was not able to comment about the nature and range of changes that have happened in the short span of her career, there are some relevant p ieces of information regarding her perceived relationship to change. "I am very open to change, just because everything is all so new! I know that I'll be changing things that happened this year that I didn't like and I'll be changing them for next year." W h e n thinking back on her first year of teaching, she commented that she was unsatisf ied: "I am never going to be fully sat isf ied. I want to keep changing and making things better constantly. I'm using the word 'unsatisf ied' in a positive way. I don't want to settle for being mediocre." Not unlike many beginning teachers, she felt that she was enthusiastical ly embrac ing and seek ing out change. "I a lready have three units in mind that I am going to try to make better. That 's my summer homework. And this past year there were some units that I took [from col leagues] that I will replace with something e lse because I didn't like the way it was done." The implementation of new curriculum is a built-in expectat ion for this teacher young in her career. "Highly exper imental" aptly descr ibed her first year of teaching. Mrs. Smith teaches in a self-contained building (portable) adjacent to the elementary schoo l with twenty-six grade five students—twelve boys and fourteen gir ls—in her charge. 28 The students all get along very well so it's really a community in the c lassroom. There aren't any cl iques that stick out, even though there are a couple of kids that have been best fr iends like forever. But I can put any kid anywhere and know that they'll be able to talk to someone . Somet imes I have to move them so that they won't talk to people. . . . It's great that they're all fr iends and that they're comfortable in the room. Even girls and boys, there's no problem between them. It's quite cool . Academica l l y speak ing, she reported that about five students are severely struggling in a certain area— fai l ing a subject area. At the other end of the spectrum there are three noteworthy students; according to Mrs. Smith, one is definitely except ional and two could be successfu l in grade six. "Then there's a real mix in the middle too." But Mrs. Smith, with her organizat ional abilities, is able to use the academic abilities and the positive socia l dynamic in her c lass towards achieving her learning objectives. The students are good, get-along working partners; collaborative learning through group work is fine. It naturally happens that kids go off task too, being friends and all. I'm very careful with group work. I make the groups. I don't normally let them choose . For bigger projects, I pick. I like to put my stronger students mixed together with those who are struggling. A n d there's a lways one in the group who is the leader who will get everyone to task. They're pretty good about getting back to task. Purposes for teaching critical thinking At the outset of this study, Mrs. Smith submitted the following definition: "Crit ical thinking is the thinking through of a problem (using various tools such as background knowledge and open-mindedness) in order to seek/ reach a judgment about what should be done." (Sept. 20, 2006) W h e n asked to give examples of 29 ways that she had incorporated critical thinking into lessons during the past year (2005-2006), she cited two curriculum resources that were part of her teacher educat ion program at university: Critical Challenges and A Case of Red Herrings (to improve skills), (survey, Sept. 20, 2006) The Critical Challenges books were c losely examined during a Curr iculum and Methodology course; she completed an ass ignment which involved developing her own lesson that utilized the critical thinking approach and lesson design of the publ ished materials used in this study. B e c a u s e Mrs. Smith did not have the opportunity to teach a Critical Challenges soc ia l studies unit in her student teaching exper iences, she was motivated to begin during the first week of school using the resource book she had purchased. In her pract icum, she taught A Case of Red Herrings, a ser ies of learning activities des igned to improve students' inferential and deductive reasoning. In response to the quest ion, "What are your purposes for teaching critical thinking?", Mrs. Smith provided the following sentence: "I don't feel like I received enough instruction in critical thinking when I was in schoo l . " (Questionnaire 1) Mrs. Smith 's conviction that critical thinking is a valuable "life ski l l" was based upon her personal exper iences over the past decade . Having been a student at the study schoo l , she bel ieved that critical thinking was lacking in her educat ion despite the fact that the existing vision statement was introduced when she entered high schoo l . "I was a lways taught to bel ieve what I was being taught. 30 Not to quest ion. Not to ana lyze—even in elementary; just bel ieve it is true. Then I went to university—this is when I was chal lenged and I real ized I needed critical thinking." (1S) Stemming from a belief that critical thinking is necessary for life, she stated: "I like that Critical Challenges puts the onus on the kids to do the critical thinking work... providing students with the opportunity to formulate their own thoughts and opinions." (1S) In each interview she offered comments about teaching critical thinking that pointed directly toward her purposes for teaching the actual Critical Challenges l e ssons—an indication of her heavy rel iance on the curr iculum resource a s the conduit of the critical thinking. In October, she bel ieved that students needed to "know what they stood for" and that the critical chal lenges were leading to a culmination in which students would make independent cho ices regarding their personal ecologica l footprint. (20) W h e n asked if she noticed any ev idence that her purpose for teaching critical thinking w a s being real ized, she speculated more general ly that students had a greater awareness of critical thinking than she did when she was a student in the school . But when the unit was completed in November, a disappointed Mrs. Smith made the following comments : I still think that critical thinking is important; I know that I can't do everything in a Critical Challenges style. I've learned that my teaching style and approaches need to be var ied. S o m e of this cutt ing-edge stuff might make me lose my sanity. Right now, not every unit can be this intensive. I need to have a ba lance. . . . I will 31 do this unit again because it is valuable and important for the kids. (3N) Whi le the value of teaching critical thinking remained intact, the problems encountered had drained her s e n s e of purpose. The results didn't meet my expectat ions for how things were going to go. I thought they would be able to do more. Maybe it was too early in the year? Or they're not ready for this level of work yet? I thought it would be eas ier to get them to participate more and enjoy themselves. Instead I got too much of "It's too hard." They did enjoy parts of it, but overall I thought that I was pulling. A n d because it was hard for the kids, it was hard for me. It was especia l ly hard for me to want to do it, my desire to teach Critical Challenges lessons. (3N) Her stated purposes for teaching critical thinking on the second quest ionnaire demonstrated Mrs. Smith 's ongoing commitment to the students and the school : • it is something that I felt I lacked in my school ing so I wanted my students to have critical thinking skills • it is a va luable part of the miss ion statement at the schoo l s o I wanted to be sure to include it in my teaching Benefits of teaching critical thinking "My hope is that students will develop their abilities to think through problems and discern right from wrong, rather than just accept everything they're told." (Quest ionnaire 1) In the September interview she listed the following aspects of critical thinking as beneficial for her students: intellectual growth due to thinking through a problem, discernment when evaluating right from wrong, not accept ing everything they are 32 told, deeper thinking when defending one 's decis ion or posit ion, and the ability to work collaboratively in a group whi le maintaining an independent opinion. (1S) By way of example, she reported that these aspects were embedded in the lesson in which the students were required to determine which natural resource was the most important resource in the province. W h e n asked about benefits a few weeks later, she reported that she had "not seen anything new" (20) and was hoping that the upcoming student presentat ions would reveal some of the benefits that she expected. S h e also mentioned that she had not explained the "intellectual tools" part of the learning materials to her students and wondered if doing s o would have heightened the benefits. A s in her statements about the purposes of critical thinking, Mrs. Smith 's comments about the benefits revealed her disappointment due to high expectat ions. By November , her comments about the benefits related to the smal l group work. "It is excel lent that they have group work, even if there are problems.. . . The kids like working with their peers." (3N) S h e went on to talk about the critical thinking tools and strategies used in a learning activity a few weeks after the socia l studies unit was completed. S h e thought the students "did really wel l " in this activity—which included justification of individual cho ices—and this led her to bel ieve that "the more cha l lenges they get, the more they improve. In this lesson, the kids s e e m to connect better to the problem" (as compared to the 33 l essons in the prior unit). (3N) This positive exper ience assured her that students would transfer critical thinking, and restored her conf idence in the concept ion of critical thinking. I see benefits as helping students learn to think for themselves through a problem, rather than to have someone solve it for them. Kids s e e m to think that everything will be done for them, but through Critical Challenges I think they begin to realize that they are more capable than they think. Hopefully students will learn the process and sk i l l s—such as weighing options—that they can take out into the world for the rest of their l ives. (Quest ionnaire 2) Problems encountered while teaching critical thinking S h e anticipated correctly that a chief problem of teaching critical thinking is that it is difficult for the students. "Students are unaccustomed to doing critical thinking—this is tough for them!" (Questionnaire 1) In September she felt that students expected social studies to be much eas ier (e.g., "colouring maps") ; consequent ly, they were not "fired up" about the critical chal lenges. "We're nearly f inished the second chal lenge and the kids are getting more comfortable with the critical thinking approach, though it's not getting eas ier for them.. . . They' re showing a bit more interest in this second chal lenge; it's not so much of a "chore" for them." (1S) S h e also pointed out that the two chal lenges were taught quite differently: the first had more "teacher talk" compared to the second one that had the students "doing research." 34 In October, it was evident that the problems in teaching critical thinking were escalat ing for both the students and the teacher. S h e d iscovered that the students needed much more support in research gathering and recording skills than anticipated. A trip to the computer lab to gather data from the suggested on-l ine encyc lopedia was not success fu l because the task was "above the abilit ies" of the students. A s some of them struggled with the course content, it negatively affected the smal l group dynamics and bogged down their progress in getting through the tasks. Consequent ly , she was kept very busy adapting student resources on the fly, giving mini - lessons on researching skil ls, assist ing students in the comprehens ion of the content materials, and coaching smal l groups to work cooperatively. "I feel like I'm on a roller coaster somet imes." (20) Another stress was the issue of t ime—she found that the complet ion of each chal lenge was running into overtime and throwing off the desired pace. After the unit was completed, she concluded that it was not the difficulty of doing critical thinking that was most problematic for her students—they can do critical thinking if "it is packaged in a way that is very appl icable to their l ives." (Quest ionnaire 2) "It was such a new approach—they were doing something so new to them and they were not used to it." (3N) S h e maintained her v iew that students like things that are easy. "The [intellectual] tool of background knowledge was the toughest for the kids, and therefore tough for the teacher." (3N) Mrs. Smith candidly stated that they were all tired and it was a relief for the c lass (teacher included) to be done with the unit. 35 Group work takes time and energy; it takes a lot of effort for me to deal with all the groups and the kids with their hands up. The group members can help each other—unless all of them are say ing, "We don't know what to do." (3N) Al though six months later, her memory of the exper ience was "paperwork, paperwork, paperwork;" she intended to look back at the unit and figure out why it suddenly b e c a m e s o burdensome. (4M) Conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking On Quest ionnaire 1, Mrs. Smith acknowledged that the first requisite condition is "an understanding of what critical thinking is." In the September interview, she elaborated that it is helpful not just for the teacher but a lso for the students to understand what is meant by critical thinking and recognized that the term is used carelessly or over-general ized to mean various kinds of thinking. S h e felt that students needed to know the purpose for their work and illustrated her point with an example: "Today our chal lenge is to figure out which is the most valuable resource in B C . W e will gather information with this goal in mind so that we can make a good decis ion." (1S) In addit ion to a c lear concept ion, Mrs. Smith cited good curr iculum resources. It would be hard for me to teach critical thinking without these resources; it's much eas ier once you've had s o m e exposure to Critical Challenges lessons which show you step-by-step how to teach a critical chal lenge. I had to make a critical chal lenge in university and it was a chal lenge! It's so much eas ier to open the resource and deliver the lesson! 36 Due to problems with using learning resources such as the on-line encyc lopedia and the lack of recommended books in their school library, Mrs. Smith thought that reference materials that support the execut ion of the lessons were also important. The problems she encountered with student materials prompted her to suggest that the teacher 's ability to be flexible and adapt lessons as needed was also a condition that is requisite for successfu l critical thinking lessons. In October, she reported that students needed adequate literacy skills to negotiate the lesson content. S h e referred to a critical chal lenge as a "double whammy" because students had to work hard on reading and writing skills while continuing to make and justify their judgments. A second condition she mentioned was group work; she felt that lessons went better when there was a ba lance between smal l group work and independent ass ignments . (20) At the end of the unit, Mrs. Smith determined that the next t ime around, adjustments would be made regarding the students' abilities to manage the information. S h e wanted to ensure that her students would be academical ly ready and capable for the chal lenges. (3N) Her second quest ionnaire offered further thoughts about the condit ions requisite to critical thinking that had not sur faced during the interviews. Mrs. Smith wrote: I think you need to be a teacher who is willing to be chal lenged and to chal lenge the minds of your students. If you're someone who isn't willing to chal lenge yourself and your students, then critical thinking may not be something you are willing to dive into. Y o u need good curriculum and you need co l leagues to share with and support you. (Quest ionnaire 2) 37 Critical thinking within the school context A s already d i scussed , Mrs. Smith was highly motivated to teach critical thinking for a twofold reason: first, because it is her duty as a teacher to fulfill this part of the school 's vision statement and secondly, because she felt that this component was not taught during her years as a student there. Beyond her sense of obligation, she expressed her personal convict ions about the value of critical thinking which indicated that she "buys into" the vision statement. "I want my students to think for themselves and evaluate what they bel ieve." (1S) S h e went on to descr ibe the relevance of critical thinking in the "curriculum of daily life" referring to c lassroom or playground problems, and mentioned her intention to integrate critical thinking into other subject areas during the coming year—"but I can't do everything right away!" (1S) By October it was clear that she was making headway in applying critical thinking e lsewhere. For example, she had offered her students severa l higher level thinking opportunities in the following areas: literature circles, mystery stories, inference skil ls, math problem solving, and sc ience activities (non-renewable resources unit). Al though she did not consider all of these examples to be critical thinking (according to her definition), she specif ied that the problem solving approach which introduces the new chapters in the Math Makes Sense curriculum was c lose to her concept ion. (20) 38 Connect ions between the critical thinking and Christ ian perspect ive aspects of the school 's vision statement surfaced in the November interview. S h e recognized that the natural resources topic lent itself to d iscuss ions about stewardship from both the critical thinking and the biblical worldview perspect ives. The students dec ided that they would select "creation care" as the subject for their c lass presentation at their upcoming chapel (an al l -school assembly in which the c lass is responsible for the feature lesson). Moreover, they used their presentation to chal lenge the entire student body with a project that would "make a difference" in their schoo l . Thus "Litter-less Lunch Day" was establ ished for every Tuesday ; the aim was to chal lenge every student to bring a lunch that would use compost ing and recycling alternatives to the trash bin once a week. (3N) This example of a student-initiated project demonstrates the convergence of the two aspects of the school 's vision statement. Not surprisingly, according to Mrs. Smith, critical thinking and Christ ian perspect ive are not in conflict. 1 guess my own exper ience is that we have this biblical background and Christ ian perspect ive, but at the s a m e time we need that moral backbone to be evaluating our world at all t imes—thinking about what we are allowing ourselves to take part in or support. I think that we need both. I think that when I went to schoo l , I was getting the Christ ian perspect ive but not necessar i ly the tools to evaluate the world as well—just being taught to accept that "this is the way that it is." S o one of my goals for my students is that I don't tell the students just to accept it, but to take what they K N O W and to think about it.... I think that it's very important that students have the Christ ian back ing. . . . They can't have either—they have to have both together. I don't want them only to have their critical thinking skil ls, 39 because , in my opinion, you need to have your moral backing before you can appropriately a s s e s s a problem. Wel l , that's my belief. (4M) Summary Mrs. Smith exhibited a high s e n s e of need for teaching critical thinking and an except ional clarity about the Critical Challenges concept ion. Her lack of procedural clarity as indicated by the various problems she encountered during the implementation p rocess exposed her delus ions about teaching critical thinking. The complexit ies of the innovation coupled with the chal lenges accompany ing a first year teacher resulted in d iscouragement over unmet expectat ions. Despite her disappointment, she upheld a deep conviction in the need and value of critical thinking and did not waver from her sophist icated concept ion of it. The fact that the exper ience was so "burdensome" for her underscores the importance of supporting condit ions during the implementation process. Mrs. Black Mrs. Black is an exper ienced teacher who has worked at incorporating critical thinking into var ious a reas of the grade five curricula. S h e we lcomed the opportunity to participate in this research study because she enjoyed piloting new material and because she would be re leased from generating her own critical thinking component to the natural resources unit. In contrast to Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Black was unfamiliar with the concept ion and pedagogical approach promoted in 40 Critical Challenges and admitted that in her lesson preparat ions she had sk immed and skipped the introductory pages of the teacher 's manual . Whi le allowing for some minor adaptat ions, she thought she was successfu l ly able to implement the unit. S h e consistently used references to speci f ic learning activities and concrete examples to note any changes in her teaching. Whi le her comments during the ser ies of interviews added some temporary contour to aspects of her concept ion of critical thinking, there was no significant change in her establ ished understanding of it. Interviews were scheduled as fol lows: 1. September 28, 2006 (1S) 2. October 18, 2006 (20) 3. November 14, 2006 (3N) 4. December 12, 2006 (4D) 5. May 28, 2007 (5M) Mrs. Black had an additional interview. The interview on September 28, 2006, des igned to capture Mrs. B lack 's first impressions of the Critical Challenges unit, revealed that she had not yet taught the first lesson but was becoming familiar with the lessons. The interview in October documents Mrs. B lack 's exper iences teaching the new critical thinking materials. Focus Group sess ions : 1. September 28, 2006 ( F G 1 S ) 2. November 14, 2006 (FG2N) 41 Teacher profile and classroom context Mrs. Black is in her twelfth year of teaching and her third year in the study schoo l . Her career began with three years as a teacher-on-cal l in several coastal districts in British Co lumbia where she accepted temporary teaching ass ignments ranging from kindergarten to grade twelve in both public and private schoo ls . After a three month position in an international school in the Phi l ippines, she taught for six years in a smal l fai th-based independent school not far from the study schoo l 's location. Within the past nine years while employed in the independent schoo ls , Mrs. Black has taught grades five and six, and has done special ist ass ignments in primary French and intermediate sc ience. S h e descr ibes herself as an enthusiast ic, creative teacher, and in terms of teaching style, cons iders herself as intuitive, f lexible, and go-with-the-flow by nature. For example , "If I s e e that the kids are really learning, but their activity is moving us in a new direction (but that they're still really learning), I would rather go their way than bring them back to the lesson right away." B e c a u s e Mrs. Black is sensit ive to where her learners are, she finds it natural to involve the students in curriculum cho ices, even the impromptu lessons as she just descr ibed. Mrs. B lack regards herself as a teacher who enthusiast ical ly embraces change and often seeks out new ideas. "Every year I think back about what I want to change and how I want to make it better. My curriculum units are never the s a m e two years in a row." A s an example of seeking out change, she related how she had been interested in piloting a new French curriculum in the study 42 school . Not only did she attend a course during the summer to prepare herself, she persuaded another co l league to join her. Currently all the grades three, four and five c lasses are using this new French program, and she noted that the students found this new curriculum engaging and enjoyable. Mrs. Black is motivated to take s o m e initiative in curr iculum planning for something she bel ieves in; not only is she willing to put in the time and effort to prepare something new, but she a lso enlists partnership with co l leagues. S h e feels rewarded when she wi tnesses the benefits for her students. Th is year Mrs. Black has been teaching a c lass of twenty-six grade five students—fourteen girls and twelve boys. The c lass composit ion represents a broad range of academic abilities and socia l behaviours. S h e reported that within the academic mix, s o m e students receive "general" learning ass is tance, s o m e for specif ic subject areas, one student has an Individualized Educat ion P lan (IEP), and yet another group of students leave the c lassroom for enrichment activities. S h e f inds that some students are very quiet and s o m e are very talkative and "a bunch in the middle" or "normal." Over the year she has counse led the students through "friend issues" due to their level of soc ia l and emotional maturity. Mrs. Black determines that things are better now and credits the students for their growth in empathy for one another. 43 Purposes for teaching critical thinking Mrs. Black defined critical thinking as : "the ability to think through problems, to analyze all of the data, the pro's and con 's and to come up with the best solution. It is the ability to go beyond, to dig deeper, and come up with your own ideas instead of just taking other people 's ideas as fact." (survey, June 2006) W h e n asked to descr ibe ways that she had incorporated critical thinking into lesson plans within the past year, she wrote the following list: • The students have come up with a "platform" to present to the c lass prior to voting for a c lass president. • Through c lass d iscuss ions we have delved deep into a problem. I have students come up with solut ions to problems, i.e., world hunger, where they have to go beyond themselves. • Having students come up with quest ions to ask a panel of immigrants (beyond the "basics"). • Helping students think beyond themselves, i.e., the problems of others. • In Math, problem solving through several steps. Prior to, during and after teaching the new unit, Mrs. Black consistently asser ted that her first purpose for teaching critical thinking was that it was "an important lifelong skil l ." In September , she noted that students needed this skill in order to negotiate the problems and dec is ions of daily life and added that weighing the pro's and con 's , consider ing both s ides and "working through the issues" were all aspec ts of critical thinking. (1S and Quest ionnaire 1) T h e s e comments align very c losely to the definition of critical thinking that she provided on the survey quoted above. Mrs. Black also observed that there are varying levels of competency in critical thinking abilities. "I think there are some people who are very good critical 44 thinkers but I don't think that it is natural in everybody. . . . Therefore you want critical thinking to be a skill kids get used to." (1S) S o m e comments need to be made about the nature of Mrs. B lack 's October, November and December interviews which occurred while she was actually teaching the unit. It became increasingly apparent in the course of these interviews that she is a concrete thinker; frequently, responses began with generous summar ies of the lesson plan or detailed descript ions of what the teacher or the students had done. The direct answers that I sought were embedded as key words and phrases within her narratives of c lass room exper iences, and often the answer was the example itself. Consequent ly , a greater degree of inferential work by the researcher became necessary . During the October interview, Mrs. Black was asked if she had any new purposes for teaching critical thinking now that she had begun to implement the Managing our Natural Resources lessons and had formulated some first impressions. S h e responded that focusing the unit around a critical chal lenge question was a good idea and that she was discover ing how c lass d iscuss ions "went beyond what the teacher manual predicted." The kids' ideas about school resources went "around the world" and they talked about Zamb ia . Mrs. Black then mentioned how the students were making cho ices about "what they could live without" as a result of a homework ass ignment assess ing the importance of resources found in their houses . From there she noted that she had wi tnessed good socia l skil ls in their 45 smal l groups even when kids were not with their fr iends. "The students didn't a lways agree but they kept d iscuss ing until they reached a consensus . " The final point in the d iscuss ion about new purposes for teaching critical thinking was that she saw that students were "thinking beyond themselves." (20) In summary, Mrs. B lack 's grade five students had been involved in making cho ices based on their investigations and d iscuss ions, and that doing critical thinking activities within a smal l peer group had expanded their capacity for managing alternate points of view. Interview d iscuss ions in November and December yielded severa l identical comments . In consistently repeating herself, Mrs. Black reinforced that her concept ion of critical thinking was anchored to the following phrases: critical thinking is a lifelong skill, it is the ability to think through problems and it means not being passive about one 's learning by expect ing answers to be given to you. (3N and 4D) S h e seemed most passionate about student passivity and therefore one of her purposes for teaching critical thinking was tightly bound to her notion of the problem of teaching it. In every interview she commented that students constantly needed to be chal lenged to quest ion things for themselves, to pursue their own understanding and to avoid being vulnerable to what is "not true." On severa l occas ions Mrs. Black said what she hoped her students reason as follows: I want them to be able to look at something and say, "Hey! I wonder about this" and be able to work through the developing of a full sc ience experiment or determine the most important natural resource in C a n a d a and "how am I going to figure that out? Is it 46 just because of what I have in my house, or what the whole c lass has in their h o m e s ? " It's not just sitting there and waiting for knowledge to be poured into you, but thinking through things and being an active learner. (4D) On the second quest ionnaire (May 2007) she wrote virtually an identical comment about the purposes for teaching critical thinking as her first quest ionnaire statement: "It is an important task for students to be able to perform in life and on the job." In short, there was little ev idence of change in her concept ion. Benefits of teaching critical thinking Initially, she contended that the benefits of teaching critical thinking were identical to its purposes. S h e wrote on the first quest ionnaire: "The s a m e as number 1" meaning that her answer for the purpose of critical thinking ("It is an important skill for the students to learn; they will need this skill throughout their lives!") a lso appl ied to question two. W h e n asked to expand on the comment, she added that critical thinking w a s beneficial to students because it offered them opportunities to improve their "decis ion-making skil ls." (1S) Prior to the implementation of the Critical Challenges resource, Mrs. B lack 's comments were general and vague. But once she began teaching the lessons, she reported a variety of learning exper iences that illustrated specif ic benefits. For example , although in the past she had students who demonstrated good critical thinking, during the first Critical Challenges lesson there were more kids enabled and engaged in the critical th inking—even those who were usually more 47 reluctant to participate. The lesson motivated the students and they did not want to stop. A second observat ion made by Mrs. Black highlighted the students' col laborative smal l group work. S h e wi tnessed them conducting "on-task d iscuss ions—not noisy, but talkative. I saw kids including each other in the conversat ion." (20) A third unanticipated benefit was the positive feedback received from parents who had appreciated the recent critical thinking homework assignment. In November the descript ions of the critical thinking activities continued to be posit ive and pointed towards beneficial learning exper iences. Mrs. Black appreciated that the students' "knowledge (such as capital cities or plotting coordinates on the map) could be more meaningful s ince it was being 'used ' . " (3N) S h e descr ibed, for example , the way in which a group game required students to rotate their responsibi l i t ies frequently thereby "forcing" a high level of at-task behavior. S h e also recounted an incident when the students were surprised at what they evaluated as the most important natural resource. "They thought that forestry would be high and then they d iscovered metal." After examining their information, they realized that new ev idence caused them to change their minds from their "original and obvious answer." (3N) O n c e the unit of study was completed, Mrs. Black underscored the enjoyment and motivation observed in her students. In the December interview, she referred to the s u c c e s s of the lessons: 48 The activity was really neat and I would definitely do it again. They had to think of their familiar objects as natural r esou rces— resources that need to be taken care of.... I will definitely do the mapping activities again. The game was so good that they played it twice and begged for more. They loved it.... It a lso taught them latitude and longitude. (4D) At the end of the day, the things cited as success fu l critical chal lenge l e s s o n s — activities that were "neat" and "good" and worthy of "doing again"—were not justified in terms of criteria consistent with Critical Challenges materials. Accord ing to the pre- and post- quest ionnaire responses , her notion of the benefits of critical thinking moved from "an important life skil l" to "a skill that will help students to question and research." (May 2007) Problems encountered while teaching critical thinking In September , Mrs. Black had some wel l -establ ished suspic ions about the problems she would be encountering while teaching critical thinking and it was evident that these anticipated difficulties were rooted in past exper iences. S h e used the phrase "lack of maturity" in two distinct ways : to descr ibe students' reluctance to think independently and in reference to their inability to exhibit appropriate behavior during c lass d iscuss ions. Based on the frequency of her comments on the topic over the duration of the study, it w a s c lear that she held a deep conviction that students today "would rather be told the answers than have to think for themselves." (Quest ionnaire 1) A n d despite the presence of positive students who desired to learn and participate, Mrs. Black knew that there were others who hindered c lass d iscuss ions by making comments to draw a laugh. "To d iscourage c lass c lowns, I'm trying to encourage the kids to understand that 49 everyone 's ideas are important and we can learn from them." (1S) A second struggle was the lack of good resources for teaching critical thinking in the study schoo l . S h e explained that so far, she had generated her own critical thinking activities to insert into the curriculum. In conjunction with the need for good resources was the time factor; Mrs. Black disl iked teacher guides that required extra time to "figure out the lesson" and would rather spend her preparation time gathering the lesson materials. (1S) "Lack of good materials can affect the teaching, that is, a busy teacher needs materials that don't take hours to prep!" (Quest ionnaire 1) A s a consequence of her preference for concrete lesson materials, she did not read the extensive explanat ion of critical thinking provided by the Critical Challenges. Al l that mattered to her was the provision of student activities. During the October interview, an enthusiast ic Mrs . B lack launched into a descript ion of how the first critical chal lenge lessons had turned out. S h e reported that d iscuss ions in smal l groups had been success fu l : the students exceeded her expectat ions of their intellectual ability (quality of their ideas) and also their soc ia l skil ls (active l istening, moving from disagreement to consensus) . S h e noted that in the first lesson there had not been problems with domineering students in a group because each pupil had a worksheet and every contribution was required for the chal lenge. The structure of the lesson plan thus averted what she bel ieved to be a potential problem. S h e acknowledged that "the motivation of the task made the teacher 's job easier." Furthermore, she 50 exper ienced no concerns regarding the time it took to prepare the lessons. In fact, with the students doing the critical thinking work in a student-centered approach, she enjoyed "being a fly on the wall ." "The time concern now is that the children don't want to stop!" Interestingly, Mrs. Black did not offer any comments about the fact that the problems she assoc ia ted with teaching critical thinking which she had mentioned in September had not material ized. W h e n this was pointed out to her, she said that she was still cur ious to s e e if these anticipated problems would surface with a different c lass of students s ince "this is a talkative group." (20) Midway through the Critical Challenges in November Mrs . B lack reported that the high degree of student engagement in the critical thinking lessons was waning for s o m e pupils. "Crit ical thinking is hard. S o m e kids are really good at critical thinking, and I have some k ids—less—that still want me to tell them the answer. T h o s e that are good at it, really take off. The kids that struggle with critical thinking want me to tell them everything." (3N) This observat ion triggered a ser ies of comments about her view of the learner and the difficulty of teaching critical thinking. For example, she stated that "babies and toddlers are curious, but then they lose that" and so she hoped that critical thinking will help retrieve the chi ldren's loss of "learning through inquiry and curiosity." S h e felt that kids today were not chal lenged enough in "everyday" critical thinking—solving the day-to-day problems on their own. "I think that lots of kids have lost their imagination—they're so busy watching T V and playing video games. " "I just 51 don't want students to think that everything gets handed to them because that's how society is." Mrs. Black referred to the hectic pace of family life that included fast food restaurants and busy moms "running kids to everything and then they come home and 'veg' in front of a screen. They don't play. No time." During the second half of the interview, she made ten comments about her belief that students expected to have answers provided for them without thinking for themselves with references to their home life, the playground, and a variety of school subjects. In contrast, the first half of the interview contained numerous comments indicating that the students (with only minor exceptions) were applying themselves to the learning activities and that she was proud of their efforts. "I'm exciting at seeing how the kids are developing." It's good that each critical chal lenge begins with a question because "kids are naturally inquisitive." W h e n writing their assessmen t paragraph, "they all tried." In the C a n a d a game, the kids helped each other interpret data but not give the answer. Students encouraged the reluctant participants. K ids were exci ted. It was a lot of fun. "It's interesting to s e e what kids come up with." (3N) Al l told, the November interview was riddled with d iscrepanc ies between positive reports of successfu l c lassroom activities in October and November and her concept ion of the purposes, benefits and problems involved in teaching critical thinking. O n e final note: other than the reported waning interest of a few students in critical thinking lessons, Mrs. Black cited the se l f -assessment paragraph as a chal lenge s ince the students needed guidance in their writing skil ls. S h e acknowledged that her students were "good at verbal izing ideas" but needed reminders about topic sentences with supporting 52 details. A s an exper ienced teacher, she was taking this problem in stride: "we're working on it." The December and May interviews along with the second quest ionnaire cont inued to yield concerns about the immaturity of students as her priority, indeed her solitary, problem with teaching critical thinking. It became very clear that her view of the learner was the foundation upon which she built her concept ion of critical thinking. On December 12, 2006 she was asked , "What is your definition of critical thinking here and now—today?" to which she responded: (pause) Crit ical thinking is—the kids want us to tell them the answers ; they want us to treat them like the open vesse l and we just pour it all in. But that's not critical thinking, that's knowledge acquis i t ion. . . . Kids need to work through things on their own, . . . seek ing out the knowledge and being willing to say "what about th is?" or "can I lock up th is?" It's not just " teacher tells me" but "I have a role to play in my learning" and it's O K to have quest ions and to look for answers and to work out things and to struggle through things and to find answers that don't a lways come right away. . . . " S o maybe part of their learning is to struggle through things and learn that [struggling] is good. (4D) Therefore, the problem with teaching critical thinking for Mrs. Black is overcoming the perceived problem that students would rather be told "what to think" rather than taught "how to think." S ince c lass d iscuss ion was the format she most often used when teaching critical thinking, the immaturity issue was problematic for her when students misbehaved by call ing out, being inattentive to the ideas of others, or by monopol iz ing the conversat ion. (5M and Quest ionnaire 2) Within the interviews, there w a s no explicit report that a d iscuss ion t ime had gone poorly due to inappropriate student behavior. 53 Conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking Accord ing to the first quest ionnaire and interview, her principal condit ions were: the teacher 's wi l l ingness to teach critical thinking, the students' wi l l ingness to engage in critical thinking (and in their own learning) and finally, the establ ishment and maintenance of c lassroom d iscuss ion behaviors. Naturally, extra time in September was devoted to c lassroom expectat ions and standards. Regard ing c lass d iscuss ions, Mrs. Black sa id , "Kids are learning to wait their turn; they're doing a great job. They come up with great ideas and when we d iscuss them they come up with more and more and more. S o many hands up! Somet imes I have them write things down because we're at the end of the lesson. " (1S) S h e w a s a lso working at curtailing the "call ing out" because she felt that quieter students were being d iscouraged from entering into the d iscuss ions. A s she w a s getting to know her new students, Mrs. B lack remarked that this group had several avid readers among them and asserted that well-read students "tend to have a broader viewpoint, plus they tend to listen to the viewpoints of their peers better." (1S) In October, she extended the notion of good d iscuss ion behavior to include respect for one another's ideas. S h e hoped that by personal ly model ing how every student's idea was important, her students would share that value, "even if they don't agree with the idea." (20) The fact that the students "didn't care so much about who was in their group and got along as working partners" contributed to the s u c c e s s of the first lesson. 54 In November, with the natural wealth unit in top gear, Mrs. Black recognized that the learning activities in Critical Challenges lessons had built-in mechan isms for maximizing students' level of participation. S h e remarked that they were meaningfully involved with the course content (e.g., location of capital cities, plotting coordinates on the map) while strategizing to win the game. "Kids remember the activities that are hands-on and fun." (3N) Whi le implementing the chal lenges in October and November, she continued to report s u c c e s s in terms of what the students were doing. By and large her descript ions pertained to the smal l group work and it is not known how much whole c lass d iscuss ion was occurr ing. O n e can infer that the shift from teacher-guided to student-centered critical thinking activities could account, in part, for the absence of any interview comments about students' d iscuss ion skil ls during these months. B a s e d upon her narratives, Mrs. B lack 's essent ia l condit ions requisite for teaching critical thinking (willing teacher, engaged learners, and d iscuss ion skills) seemed to be functioning quite well. In the summary interview in December , Mrs. Black reiterated that the primary condit ion requisite for teaching critical thinking is willing students who do not sit back and let information be poured into them, but rather, take responsibil ity for their own learning. (4D) The second quest ionnaire rounded out the other two essent ia l condit ions: "A c lass that is respectful of one another and considers what each member says as important, and a teacher willing to teach critical thinking instead of reading from a text." 55 Critical thinking within the school context O n e of the reasons Mrs. Black was motivated to participate in this project was because of the perceived lack of critical thinking resources within the schoo l . A s exempli f ied in her pursuit of new French resources, she thrives on a variety of teaching materials and is very interested in exploring them. S h e also mentioned that critical thinking "is important from the top-down. The principal is very support ive of professional development and encouraged teachers to participate in this critical thinking study." (1S) There was also an optimistic sense that if s o m e teachers participated in this research, it would generate an interest in critical thinking among co l leagues. Mrs. Black exper ienced positive support and appreciat ive comments from parents in October and November. The "natural resources at home" ass ignment made a positive impression because this homework exerc ise went beyond "busy work." L ike Mrs. Smith, she interpreted the schoo l vis ion statement to mean that critical thinking should be applied across the curriculum. On severa l occas ions she referred to the "deeper thinking" that occurred through c lass d iscuss ions during novel studies. Addit ionally, her list of critical thinking activities recorded on the June 2006 survey was representative of efforts to have students "delve deep" and solve problems in a variety of subject areas. 56 S h e was highly aware of infusing Christ ian perspect ive into her lessons throughout each day, and bel ieved that "Christ- l ike living on a daily bas is" w a s a top priority at the schoo l . S h e chal lenged her students to think, "What would J e s u s do?" , and felt that critical thinking and her Chr ist ian perspect ive were not ideologically opposed . I think they belong together. A s you read and as you pray, you are trying to become more Christ- l ike, which then turns on your critical thinking because then you're not going to take everything that the world throws at you as gospel truth. One ends up saying, 'Hey, wait—that doesn' t quite sound right. I'd like to do s o m e research on this. I'd like to learn more about this myself. ' . . . There are some kids in my c lass who are good—they're getting it, and there are still some who are fighting it and they want me to just tell them the answers . Wha t I'm trying to get them to understand is the [importance and effort involved in] thinking critically and thinking through things. If you look at Chr i s t—He would tell stories and I think He was teaching [critical thinking—thinking for oneself] to us right then. If you become legalistic, then you become really c losed-minded. There are a lways new things happening and the kids are being bombarded with information.... They need to be able to think through things from a Christ ian perspect ive—from "who they are." (5M) Summary Mrs. B lack did not exper ience any change in her concept ion of critical thinking as is ev idenced by the relatively static nature of her pre- and post- study comments . B e c a u s e she is highly motivated by the practicality of teaching resources, she implemented the lessons and reported successfu l exper iences of student engagement in critical thinking activities. T h e innovation, however, w a s not a new teaching resource but an underlying concept ion and pedagogical approach 57 to teaching critical thinking; these theoretical aspec ts were over looked by Mrs. Black. Consequent ly , she exhibited s o m e selected procedural but no conceptual clarity. Her relative e a s e in delivering the lessons indicated that the complexit ies assoc ia ted with change were not existent and therefore her exper ience in implementing the innovation was one of false clarity. Mrs. Jay This summary documents the case of Mrs. Jay , a grade six teacher who has taught for nearly three decades . With an impressive length and diversity of c lassroom exper iences, she acknowledged that there were many aspects of teaching that she did intuitively—the incorporation of Christ ian perspect ive ranking at the top. Recogniz ing that critical thinking placed "a distant second" , she volunteered to participate in this study with a curious mix of hesitation and intentionality, expecting that she would be "stretched" in some way. During the two month period that she taught the Critical Challenges: Caring for Young People's Rights lessons (Case , 2004), she exper ienced the discomforts of the stretching process affecting both her teaching pract ices and her concept ion of critical thinking. Interviews were schedu led as fol lows: 1. October 18, 2006 (10) 2. November 14, 2006 (2N) 3. December 12, 2006 (3D) 58 4. May 28, 2007 (4M) Focus Group sess ions : 1. September 28, 2006 ( F G 1 S ) Mrs. Jay was not present. 2. November 14, 2006 (FG2N) Teacher profile and classroom context Mrs. J a y is the most exper ienced teacher among the research participants. Her teaching career began with two years in the public system in northern British Co lumb ia , fol lowed by twenty-six years in the study schoo l . The total twenty- eight years of teaching consist of ass ignments in the following grades: kindergarten, two, three, four, six, and seven , with the largest concentration of thirteen years exper ience in kindergarten. S h e is a lso a parent and therefore her years of teaching exper ience are a mix of part and full time employment. W h e n asked to name some attributes that descr ibe herself as a teacher, she mentioned gent leness and creativity. In terms of teaching style, she feels that she is in a transition away from a traditional style, becoming more "go with the flow" and moving from a structured approach to "not having a whole agenda mapped out." At this point in her career she va lues "seeing where the kids are and then going along with where they're at." T h e s e changes are an indication of a consc ious effort to keep current with the teaching profession. S h e noted that 59 s o m e changes are unavoidable because new textbooks demand different pedagogical approaches. Mrs. Jay regards herself as a person who is open to change. However, as the d iscuss ion about the implementation of new teaching ideas cont inued, she sa id , "When people ask me to try a new idea, I immediately think 'Oh , that's not a good idea and I know why it won't work.' A n d then I think, 'Oh , don't be like that! Maybe if I tried it again. . . . I'm better than this' [meaning the negative attitude]." (4M) Her comments reveal an initial resistance which s h e then attempts to convert to a positive response. S h e became more comfortable in handling change as family demands dec reased : W h e n my kids were younger, I didn't have as much energy to put into schoo l . S o I would go with the tried-and-true. I wasn' t open to new styles [of teaching] because I didn't want to put the time and energy into it. It worked to a point, but it wasn' t the best way to teach. But now that my kids are older, I have more time to think about [my teaching] and feel more confident to try a few other things. ... I used to be aware of new ideas and d ismiss them because of my family. Now I pick up that book or journal and take the time to read and browse. I may not run with the idea, but at least I am taking the first step. (4M) S h e also referred to the role of knowledge gained throughout years of teaching. S h e knows about the energy it takes to do the extra preparation when trying something new—time is a precious commodity. The maturity that comes from exper ience helps her filter the ideas and innovations she gives attention to. Mrs. Jay ' s exper ience in this research study is integrally connected to her ideas and feel ings about professional changes . Initially, she expressed hesitation 60 about participating because it would mean "doing something new", that is, change. And yet she wiliingly volunteered, earnestly express ing desire to be as helpful as possib le for the sake of this research, even though "something like this" was not something she would ordinarily do. (10) At the time of the concluding interview, she noted that participating in the study this past year had become a "biography" of her professional growth, and valued participation because it afforded opportunity to reflect upon her teaching career and evolution as an educator. There were new insights and epiphany moments that surfaced during the final interview as she gave voice to her thoughts. For this veteran teacher, conversat ions about professional identity as a changing practitioner clarified reflections on her growth. S h e recognized that the research exper ience helped her see what was vibrant in her teaching and the value of being attentive to it. "A gift." (4M) During the year of this study, Mrs. Jay had a grade six c lass of twenty-six students—fourteen boys and twelve girls. S h e commented that the group was academical ly on the low side: P lodders. For about half the c lass , learning has always been a bit of a chore for them. Of the three c lasses in grade six in our school , I tend to get the lower students; administrators feel that my gifts— my pat ience—are better suited for meeting these students' needs. The other two teachers are male and they absorb the students with behavioural chal lenges. This is fine in her opinion; it's a win-win situation. There are four or five kids who are descr ibed as "very bright" and these students receive extra chal lenges and work on projects independently; then she has more time for the plodders. The 61 two spec ia l needs students each have a fulltime Spec ia l Educat ion Assistant . Social ly, the students are "subdued—pretty ca lm." Purposes for teaching critical thinking Prior to working with the Critical Challenges, Mrs. Jay defined critical thinking in the following way: • Don't take everything you hear as being ultimate truth. Think about it, become discerning, quest ion it and find out if the facts are there. • Look beyond the obvious answers; what is the author trying to convey; what can we learn about ourselves through a study of ? • Be properly informed about things. To the quest ion, "In what ways have you incorporated critical thinking into your lessons this past year?" , she wrote: • reading articles from the newspaper • reading books or reviews about Christianity • c lass d iscuss ions about our lives and the inf luences of media/TV/advert is ing and how it affects us (survey, June 2006) In September, Mrs. Jay suppl ied the following statements about her purposes for teaching critical thinking: • To chal lenge students to think for themselves and not to bel ieve everything they hear and read, especial ly in advert ising, media , newspaper. • To teach the students to ask "why" and "how" quest ions. • To teach students to use the Word of G o d as the authority on spiritual issues. (Quest ionnaire 1) T h e s e comments, along with her definition of critical thinking provided above, serve as a basel ine for examining the nature and range of the changes exper ienced in her concept ion and practice of teaching critical thinking. 62 The October interview which was schedu led to capture first impressions of the Critical Challenges began with the quest ion, "What 's new?" This quest ion permeated the entire d iscuss ion as indicators of change began to sur face through comments about the purposes, benefits, problems, and requisite condit ions of teaching critical thinking. At this point in time, she had famil iarized herself with the resource and had completed the second lesson earlier that day. S h e repeated her fundamental understanding of the purposes of critical thinking (to encourage kids to ask deeper quest ions and to use Scripture as an anchor point) and then added a metacognit ion component to her original purposes. W h e n you ask "why" quest ions, you also have to think about why you think the way you do. For example, does money necessar i ly give you a better quality of life? What does the Bible s a y ? I guess I a lways try to look at Scripture and see how it fits into the lesson and to how we think critically. (10) Another thing that's new for me: in the past I've a lways just asked the "why quest ions" but I didn't have the kids d iscuss it among themselves. In today's lesson they had to look at their responses and find out if some of their responses were the s a m e as their fr iends' and then d iscuss "why did you rate that 'quality of life' as a 3? " S o they were arguing about it...thinking critically with their fr iends. In the past, it's just been a why question that they individually write on their page. This goes the extra step! I'm not the filter for their ideas—the peers are. I am exper iencing a new style of teaching [with Critical Challenges], but it's good for me to be stretched. With critical thinking, I'm used to being teacher- directed. Today the bell rang for lunch and they were not f inished talking yet and wanted to continue. I went "whew, that's nice!" They were on task too. (10) By November , she revised her purpose yet again for teaching critical thinking: "to enable students to exerc ise deeper levels of thinking (judging, evaluat ing, justifying reasons) in peer groups." S h e continued by stating that critical thinking 63 encompassed more than just socia l studies and that the tools outlined in the materials were transferable to many other subjects. A recent c lass d iscuss ion on the topic of Hal loween illustrated her point, as she mentioned how this annual d iscuss ion had been injected with the new critical thinking vocabulary: "What are the indirect consequences of trick-or-treating?" "What is the bias in this newspaper article I'm reading to you about Ha l loween?" A n d they're really thinking about it—they realize the importance of sufficient background information in order to d iscuss the issue. (2N) S h e said she "used to just be concerned about covering the content; now I can't separate the critical thinking skil ls from the content coverage anymore." (2N) Even more significantly, she now bel ieved that her purpose for teaching critical thinking at this school included providing the opportunity for students to honestly explore and question their faith and beliefs in a safe and respectful context. In December , comments about the purposes of teaching critical thinking exposed how new ways of thinking had begun to affect daily teaching habits. "I think I've changed . . . . I'm looking for answers to 'why' and the supporting ev idence for the answer." (3D) I'm giving them more time to think. Instead of just immediately getting responses from kids that have their hand up, I'm waiting. "Stop and think before you answer," because part of the waiting is letting students think about the ev idence they have for their idea, and trying to get those kids who are [reluctant to think to participate]. (3D) The second quest ionnaire later in December captured the two distinguishing features of The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium's definition, that is, critical thinking embedded in content rich curriculum and the teaching of the intellectual tools: 64 The purposes for teaching critical thinking are: • to teach children how to understand deeply and think beyond bas ic recall • to give the students the tools to do this... so that they will be able to make wise cho ices in their adult l ives. The follow-up interview in May revealed that changes in her thinking and teaching had been susta ined. Moreover, her attitude toward teaching critical thinking had changed in a very positive way. I would consider critical thinking far more necessary now than I would have thought before. To be a good teacher I feel that it's necessary that I work on the critical thinking skil ls, not just because it's in our vision statement, but because that's what students need to survive in society—that they need to be able to think.... The need for critical thinking has been intensified by the nature of today's culture and society. I think that's true for both public schoo ls and fai th-based schools , but in a way even more for us, so that we really know why we bel ieve what we bel ieve. (4M) B e c a u s e of her exper ience with the materials, Mrs. Jay placed much greater value and priority on teaching critical thinking, deeming it a s necessary for life. Therefore, she had become more intentional about including critical thinking in her teaching. One example of this: from January to May, she revised the unit tests used over the recent years so that her evaluation of pupil progress reflected the "deeper" critical thinking now expected of her students. (4M) Benefits of teaching critical thinking Prior to implementation of the socia l studies unit, Mrs. Jay said that teaching critical thinking provided students with opportunities to think for themselves, draw their own conclus ions, debate constructively, and become better equipped to be 65 effective cit izens in G o d ' s world. (Quest ionnaire 1) W h e n she began teaching the new lessons in October, she reported that the students were exceed ing her expectat ions and noted that the Critical Challenges required less of teacher and more of kids' input. I didn't think some of these kids had opinions that they could verbal ize just because they are very low academical ly , and I didn't think that they would be able to put it down on paper.. . . But with Critical Challenges I have ev idence that the learning is still happening. They wrote paragraphs in partners and the kids really"got their teeth into it." (10) S h e was p leased to witness the level at which the students were engaged and succeed ing . In contrast to her former approach to teaching, these lessons were more inclusive of all students and her anticipated problem of "opinion-less kids" had not sur faced. During the second interview in November , Mrs. Jay had more pleasant surpr ises to report—surprises because these benefits of critical thinking were so unexpected. S h e was a m a z e d at how highly motivated her students continued to be in socia l studies c lass . One parent had remarked, "My child is keen about schoo l because of the Critical Challenges lessons." (2N) This parent was especia l ly appreciat ive of the long-awaited breakthrough that occurred in her son 's positive attitude toward learning. Mrs. Jay d iscovered that the students were a lso extending the lessons; for example, they wanted to know more about the connect ions between their religious beliefs and human rights. Through their engagement in the lessons , students were "teaching the teacher" about critical thinking. (2N) Finally, she commented briefly on the beneficial aspect of the 66 students' critical thinking abilities being exerc ised through the socia l studies course content. I used to be s o concerned about teaching the content and I'm still concerned about it, but adding critical thinking to it [doesn't mean I've stopped] teaching the content. I mean , I'm still teaching the content, but it's not one or the other now. A n d I guess I'm seeing that more. (2N) In December , she talked about the development of socia l skil ls within a focused working situation: The kids have become more talkative in that "they have things to say." In other years when I put kids in groups, they would be talking but I don't think they could "hear each other" as well as they are doing now with this unit and the accumulat ion of group work exper iences they have had. They 've had more "microphone time" as individuals, plus they're feeling freer about sharing ideas. It's on-task talking—they're more engaged with the notion of "testing their ideas" with their peers. (3D) A second benefit referred to the progress students were making in reporting and communicat ing their critical thinking work. Greater use of graphic organizers, V e n n d iagrams and cont inuums were beneficial in two ways : "they're learning how to organize their answers to quest ions. . . and secondly, I can see that their answers/ thoughts are in fact moving in the right direction. It comes back to the importance of the critical thinking tools—but it's the talk that precedes the organization and express ion of the ideas that matters too." (3D) The second quest ionnaire response illustrated how the concept ion of critical thinking had become more precise over three months regarding the use of intellectual tools: • share ideas and thoughts about things, especial ly in d iscuss ions. • enr iched by hearing others' points of v iew • learn how to support their v iews with ev idence and reason 67 • learn how to evaluate resource material as to whether it is a good reliable source, e.g., internet websi tes • learn how to draw reasonable/sensib le conclus ions. Problems encountered while teaching critical thinking In September, Mrs. Jay wrote that the problem with teaching critical thinking is that some grade six students s e e m to be opinion- less. They s e e m to take and bel ieve things at face va lue—perhaps they have not been chal lenged to ask why. On the other hand, somet imes I have been frustrated with kids continually chal lenging the validity of things—for example asking "why do we have to do this?" and "What 's the va lue?" I feel like they need to find a balance; there is a place to chal lenge, but also a p lace and time to accept that this is just the way it is. (Questionnaire 1) S h e found problems with two groups of students: those who were seemingly gullible and didn't chal lenge ideas, and those who needed to find a ba lance in what/who to chal lenge. W h e n her questionnaire comments were d iscussed in the October interview, she acknowledged that, developmental ly, her grade six students were in an important phase of life when they are establ ishing more independence, and that students who frequently chal lenge parents or teacher may not necessar i ly be demonstrat ing critical thinking. W h e n asked about her anticipated problem of opinion- less students, she immediately replied that this was not a difficulty at all with the Critical Challenges materials. S h e also had no problems to report about the preparation or delivery of the lessons; relying on exper ience, she found it easy to make adaptat ions and select appropriate lesson options. 68 During the midpoint interview in November, she talked about her concerns about student assessment . S h e w a s hesitant about grading the written ass ignments because she knew that the "paperwork" from her students was usually weak and did not expect that their paragraphs would reflect the critical thinking wi tnessed in their group work. At this juncture, it was evident to her that d iscrepancies between students' oral and written work necessi tated a reframing of her system of student evaluat ion. S o she continued to make adaptat ions as necessary when the Critical Challenges lesson plans were not an ideal fit for her c lass , skipping portions of a lesson and choosing some shorter information passages . Al though the "trial and error" aspect of piloting a new curriculum resource was not problematic to this exper ienced teacher, the most significant problem encountered while teaching critical thinking w a s exposed in the November interview. The cumulative impact of one month's work with multiple viewpoints, justifiable opinions, reliable sources, and biblical authority had come to a head. I'm unraveling. The students ask me quest ions, about Scripture too, that I can't answer. I find it a little scary because I'm being pushed out of my comfort zone. But I like it because I actually find it chal lenging. I'm on the edge thinking it's eas ier to be here. I'm not going to ruffle anyone 's feathers, but when I'm moving here to the edge with difficult quest ions, I'm wondering about what the kids are hearing me say and what they'll go home and say. But then, no-one has given me any negative feedback so I guess I'm doing O K . (2N) Mrs. Jay said she felt prepared and confident to respond to any parent concerns should they come her way. Her comments indicated that although she was being chal lenged by her students' critical thinking and w a s wrestl ing with her changing concept ion of it, she still we lcomed this problem. (More about this problem will 69 be d iscussed within the "school context" because her difficulties with critical thinking are intertwined with her Christ ian perspective.) In December , Mrs. Jay reported how she had resolved her problem with student evaluat ion. "I looked at the rubric so that I knew what I was supposed to be looking for. But in the end, I went with my anecdotal assessmen ts and observat ions of the critical thinking ev idence done in smal l groups and c lass work." (3D) For the first time, she had made comments about each student's critical thinking abilities on her report cards. With regards to the Critical Challenges unit, she said that two months had been a bit too long. "At the end, I found it a little tedious and the kids were losing their p i zzazz . . . however, I think that when we move to another topic, all the enthusiasm will come back again." (3D) S h e also noted that in one particular lesson her groups were too large and the students were "jockeying for leadership position"; in her opinion, groups of three or four students were a lways fine. In her closing comment, she summar ized her personal change: Critical Challenges has moved me out of my comfort zone . It's made me stop and think about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. It took a bit of energy—I was taking the book home and thinking it through because I wanted to do a good job; a lso, put more effort into it because I knew I was doing it for the research too. W h e n I do it next year, it'll be much easier. (3D) Remarks in the follow-up quest ionnaire focused on the group work as the context for learning, and raised a new chal lenge that had not been mentioned in the interviews. S h e wrote that although the s ize of groups was critical, so was their 70 composi t ion: "I had to be careful how I grouped kids: some wouldn't let others talk and wouldn't l isten." (Quest ionnaire 2) Conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking Coming into this study, she felt strongly that "a safe environment where kids dare to quest ion, dare to give opinions, and be given respect by the teacher and fellow students when doing so" was the one essent ia l condit ion that would support the teaching of critical thinking. (Questionnaire 1) During the first interview, she gave an in-depth descript ion of what she did to create a trusting and respectful c lassroom climate. This included model ing an attitude of openness to others' ideas, giving examples of opposing yet valid viewpoints from her own family, establ ishing guidel ines for c lassroom d iscuss ions, and somet imes, creating an ambience for "heart-to-heart conversat ions" with a lit candle. "I do a lot of work in my c lass on feeling safe. 'Nobody will be laughing at you; we will listen and respect. ' S o m e may love to speak out loud more than others but we all have something important to say." (10) A respectful c lassroom climate was a priority because she valued the "voice" of each student and the necessi ty of meaningful d ia logue in the light of today's pluralistic society. From her comments in the November interview it was apparent that she cont inued to be vigilant about maintaining a respectful tone in the c lassroom insisting on students "taking turns, no laughing and no put-downs." (2N) S h e a s s e s s e d that the students were doing well and noted that their d iscuss ion was 71 getting deeper into the issues and va lues at hand. "They do say what they think, and the other kids are responsive—but we 've worked on that in other areas too." (2N) S h e also cited the value of smal l peer groups as a working condit ion that supported students in developing critical thinking. In December , Mrs. Jay reported that the materials had moved her further away from the traditional t ransmission of information style of teaching—from "content coverage to coverage of meaningful information." (3D) B a s e d on the exper ience, a condition requisite to teaching critical thinking meant that she had to let go of some old habits (pedagogical style) and perspect ives on covering the curriculum. A few days later, her ideas about condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking were summar ized in Quest ionnaire 2. • The teacher needs to be interested in the subject material. • K ids need to feel that they are in a safe secure environment where their contributions to d iscuss ions are respected and listened to. • K ids a lso need to be given adequate background information on a topic in order to think critically about it and draw conc lus ions about it. • Students a lso need to be taught how to think crit ically....use tools like cont inuums, V e n n diagrams.... to organize the information they are given and to be able to draw conc lus ions from it. In addition to her original priority on a positive c lassroom climate, she extended her list to include some of the strategies and tools fundamental to the Critical Challenges resource. 72 Critical thinking within the school context "To tell you the truth, I never really thought that much about the critical thinking part of our mission statement.. . . My focus has been on the Christ-centred teaching." (10) Mrs. Jay began to reflect back on her twenty-six year history in the study school . Having arrived during the 1980's from the public schoo ls in the north she sa id , "I didn't really know what I was getting into when I came to this Chr ist ian schoo l . " S h e recal led that her focus w a s on "trying to bring Christianity into my teaching." W h e n the mission statement with the critical thinking was brought in ("at least ten years ago") she remembered thinking, "well, what does that mean? A n d I haven' t— (pause). I don't know if I really got into the critical thinking stage. I think that some of it comes out naturally, but not as much as it should." (10) W h e n asked if there was staff development days devoted to teaching critical thinking she replied: "I don't feel like I've had any formal training on how to teach critical thinking. I've talked with co l leagues. Genera l ly we ask 'why quest ions' at the end of the test." Nor, according to Mrs. Jay , did there s e e m to be any school criteria for defining or testing critical thinking, and then she added, "I think that my definition of critical thinking is changing already as I work with Critical Cha l lenges . " (10) S h e did feel that, in light of chal lenges for kids growing up in the twenty-first century, the inclusion of the critical thinking component in the vision statement had been necessary and timely. 73 A s mentioned earlier, her concern over religious authority issues while teaching critical thinking occurred halfway through the unit. What triggered her "unravel ing" as a teacher is unique to Mrs. Jay in this Christ ian school context: The kids are asking more quest ions. I say, "This is the inspired Word of G o d , " and the kids ask, "What does that really m e a n ? How do you know this is absolute truth? And what about the stuff in this article or text or internet—is that really t rue?" They' re looking at the "slant" in the magaz ine and now they're questioning the sources. I feel good about the d iscuss ions but I wonder what the kids say when they go home. (2N) The students were truly asking the difficult quest ions and they were, indeed, teaching their teacher about critical thinking. In spite of her personal d isturbance regarding the implications of critical thinking, she dec lared: "But this is such a huge part of learning! What do we want our graduates to leave with? A n educat ion! W e want them to be critical thinkers, to make good dec is ions using these tools. . . ." S h e had been speaking slowly and paused to ask if she was being clear. "We want them to make decis ions that lead to responsible living." T h e s e words indicated not only a deeper intellectual understanding of the purposes of critical thinking, but a lso a deeper value and ownership of those purposes. During the December interview, she talked about her "do you think this is t rue?" approach to teaching that had been part of her quest ioning for quite some time; it had evolved over the years as one technique for incorporating Christ ian perspect ive into lessons. S h e asked this quest ion more frequently now, but more importantly, the context for d iscuss ing it included critical thinking terminology and 74 strategies. S h e illustrated with an example from a lesson earlier that day. S h e had been reading to the students something about the Magi in the Chr is tmas story. Beyond asking the solitary "is this t rue?" quest ion, she chal lenged them with : Do we accept this information? Should we consider the point of view of the author? There isn't much about the Magi in the Bible, so where should we look for reliable information? S h e had also pointed out that this article had severa l resources referenced within the text and reminded her pupils that references are not what they usually see on websi tes. Even though the critical thinking unit was completed, she continued asking students the tougher quest ions and they, in kind, were still asking plenty too. "It's O K for me not to have the answers. A n d I tell the kids that I don't know. I've said 'I don't know' to the kids more t imes this fall than I used to." (3D) W h e n asked in May what she now considered to be the relationship (if any) between Christ ian perspect ive and critical thinking, she cautiously responded, "Wel l , as Chr ist ians we need to think critically.... [Using a V e n n diagram model,] I think that ideally, they would be overlapping. For me, they're not. I'm not there yet. About half. Often t imes, the Christ ian perspect ive c o m e s out when you are thinking critically." (4M) S h e conc luded with the following comment: "The need for critical thinking has been intensified by the nature of today's culture and society. It's true for both public schools and fai th-based schools , but in a way, even more for us, so that we really know why we bel ieve what we bel ieve." (4M) 75 Summary Mrs. Jay exper ienced profound change. S h e demonstrated a remarkable disposit ion of openness to change and was realistic in expect ing the discomforts of "being stretched"; this attitude emerged as a condition that supported evolving conceptual and procedural clarity during the implementation period. Her perceived value and need for teaching critical thinking rose sharply and her definition of it moved from vague ideas to specif ic details about the "intellectual tools." In tandem with her growing understanding of the concept ion were severa l significant changes in her teaching pract ices. 76 CHAPTER FIVE Analysis of the Cases This chapter answers the research quest ion, "How do elementary teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking change while teaching a unit that exempl i f ies a new critical thinking pedagogy?" by providing a case analysis of Mrs. Smith, Mrs. B lack and Mrs. Jay respectively. Having outl ined their purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking in chapter four, the indicators of change in each teachers ' concept ions of critical thinking will now be examined and interpreted in terms of factors related to the characterist ics of change: need, clarity, complexity, and quality/practicality of the innovation (Ful lan, 2007). This interpretive account a lso takes into account the school context in which these teachers implemented the critical thinking resources. Chapter five conc ludes with a c ross -case summary highlighting commonal i t ies and differences among the cases . Mrs. Smith "At the beginning I thought critical thinking was important and now I still do. At the beginning I thought it would be easy but now I think not." (3N) Those were Mrs. Smith 's final words in the interview that marked the complet ion of her Critical Challenges unit; they neatly scaffold the following analys is of her exper ience of change. The statement about the importance of critical thinking demonstrated the stability in her perceived need and conceptual clarity of it; her 77 realization that teaching critical thinking was not as easy as she expected indicated the changes she exper ienced in procedural clarity, complexity and practicality within the implementation process. In contrast to her two co l leagues participating in this study, Mrs. Smith exhibited a high sense of perceived need for teaching critical thinking. There are a few aspec ts of that "need" which should be elaborated upon. First, it functioned as a " readiness factor" (Ful lan, 2007) in that she did not require any persuasive arguments regarding the merits of the innovation, and therefore her choice to promote critical thinking in her c lassroom was a voluntary and internally motivated change (as opposed to a mandated or externally motivated one.) A second aspect of need is priority—the issue was not merely that critical thinking was important, but rather, how important. Mrs. Smith explicitly justified her high degree of priority on the bas is of her personal exper ience—the lack of instruction in critical thinking she received as a student. Evans (1996) points out that: Desirabil ity depends crucially upon dissatisfaction and relevance. To even begin to be open to a change, people must first be unhappy with the status quo in some way and must then find the change relevant to their concerns. Innovation, in other words, must meet a perceived need in a promising way. (p. 80) Certainly Mrs. Smi th 's dissat isfact ion fueled her obligation and desire to fulfill the schoo l 's vision statement by delivering critical thinking opportunities to the students. Furthermore, her dissatisfaction was rooted in a sense of personal l o s s — a factor which would likely contribute an increased emotional intensity to the re levance and desirability of the innovation. 78 There is one more aspect of Mrs. Smith 's perceived need that merits exploration: her personal awakening to the value of critical thinking. "I was a lways taught to bel ieve what I was being taught.... Then I went to university—this is when I was chal lenged and I real ized I needed critical thinking." (1S) By her testimony, university was the pivot point where her journey as a critical thinker began; it inf luenced the formation of both her perceived need and conceptual clarity of critical thinking. In contrast to the other two teachers, Mrs. Smith is a product of a twenty-first century teacher educat ion program and she mentioned that severa l of her university courses had taught and even promoted a critical thinking orientation for instruction. (4M) More specif ically, her Soc ia l Studies Curr iculum and Methodology course used Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum (1998) and The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies (1997) as required textbooks— both of these books were co-edited by Roland C a s e , one of the founders of T C 2 . S h e a lso confirmed that her professor had specia l ized in critical thinking in her master 's thesis and doctoral dissertat ion. Not surprisingly then, Mrs. Smith 's exposure to critical thinking was comprehensive, a fact that was repeatedly born out in comments that revealed her clarity of the concept ion. Beyond an intellectual understanding of critical thinking, the anthology text featured chapters that promoted critical thinking as a "way of life" ("Principles of an Ethic of Crit ical Thinking", S e a r s & Parson ; "Taking Ser iously the Teach ing of Crit ical Thinking", C a s e & Wright). G iven the concentrated and comprehens ive exposure to critical thinking at university, it can be safely assumed that Mrs. Smith had "bought into" the concept ion as a teacher and as an individual and that she "owned" the 79 sophist icated understanding, pedagogical approach and underlying beliefs. S ince deeply-held understandings are the most difficult to change, the stability of her purpose for and conceptual clarity of critical thinking was a logical outcome. O n e must consider if Mrs. Smith 's recent convict ions about critical thinking were too idealistic and that the university training, in part, contributed to unrealistic expectat ions. S h e admitted that she was expect ing "a bed of roses" (4M) and instead, she became entangled in the thorns of the implementation process. Ful lan noted that " innovat ions—even promising-looking ones—turn out to be burdens in d isguise" (2001, p. 24). Mrs. Smith 's exper ience of "unmet expectat ions" indicated her changing ideas and ideals regarding the procedural clarity, complexity and practicality of teaching critical thinking. Despite her disappointment, her intent to figure out why it became burdensome indicated that she had not abandoned her underlying beliefs. The following quotations from the September and October interviews illustrate the progression in her attempt to ascertain procedural clarity regarding the intellectual tools: "What about the info at the beginning of the Critical Challenges guide—the tools, etc.? Do I teach that? Do we talk about that before the lesson happens or as the lesson happens? That was something that was never fully clarif ied. I'm not sure." (1S) O n e change is that [teaching critical thinking] turned out to be a lot more chal lenging for the students than I thought it would be. . . . Next t ime I might approach it a different way—start off with teaching the tools first. Develop my own simple chal lenge that would simply 80 get them to practice the tools before getting into the content of the unit. In that way, I would be expect ing to change my pract ice compared to this first time teaching the unit. (20) T h e s e comments demonstrated that Mrs. Smith 's lack of clarity was propell ing her forward—to make pedagogica l dec is ions that would sustain her abiding purposes for teaching critical thinking. Aspec t s of complexity and practicality relevant to Mrs. Smith ' difficulties occurred in her struggles with the teaching strategies and use of materials. (Ful lan, 2007) Certainly the fact that she was a beginning teacher weighed significantly; the reported problems cited in chapter four provided ample ev idence that she became bogged down by students' lack of abilities in managing reference materials, their waning interest and the unexpected extra time required to cover the unit. O n e speci f ic example of a "rookie mistake" came up in a d iscuss ion about student assessment . Mrs. Smith real ized that she should have looked at the evaluat ion rubric prior to teaching a lesson and explaining the ass ignment ; she knew in hindsight that she could have prevented her disappointment in the students' work had she been clearer when communicat ing the expectat ions. (20) Whether encounter ing the mundane practical problems or the larger theoretical issues assoc ia ted with implementation of an innovation, research indicates that the benefit of peer support can influence the individuals' exper ience in a positive manner. Mrs. Smith noted this: It would have been helpful to have done it with more co l leagues s o that we could d iscuss and share our exper iences. There are more 81 variables to look at—learn from one another. For example , how are students in other c lasses reacting to the program? Mrs. Black and I talked about the chal lenges we both did. (20) Unfortunately, Mrs. Smith was four weeks ahead of Mrs. Black in the delivering of the program and their col legial conversat ions ended up serving Mrs. Black more favourably. The focus group sess ions did not appear to have an uplifting effect on Mrs. Smith either. This was due to that fact that Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Black were polar ized in their conceptual understanding of critical thinking. For example, when Mrs. Smith referred to the "habits of mind", Mrs. Black responded with a comment about undesirable habits in students that "we have to overcome." ( F G 1 S ) W h e n the d iscuss ion turned to the evaluation of students and the use of the rubrics, the exper ienced teacher briefly descr ibed the anecdotal sys tem she had developed for herself. This proved to be unhelpful in Mrs. Smith 's deeper issues with the unmet expectat ions she was exper iencing in her c lass . A l so during that focus group sess ion , the chief point of agreement for the two teachers was on the difficulty of teaching grade five students who want to be suppl ied with the answers rather than becoming independent thinkers. Returning to the fact that Mrs. Smith was a recent university graduate, it must be said that there was no teacher in the schoo l , including the administrators, who were "on the s a m e page" in terms of teaching critical thinking according to the TC2 model . Whi le there is no reason to doubt that Mrs. Smith had the support and encouragement of principals and co l leagues, the nature and level of that support did not have sufficient "presence" in order to offset her sense of isolation, 82 frustration with the trial-and-error lessons, the physical and emotional "roller coaster" including the tyranny of the urgent, and the deeper disappointment that the Critical Challenges unit had not met her "perceived need in a promising way." (Evans, 1996) Mrs . Smi th started off with enthus iasm, commitment and conf idence. Her personal investment translated into high expectat ions that melted away as she encountered the complexi t ies of implementing a sophist icated concept ion. In her case , the phenomenology of change is based on her realization that teaching critical thinking contradicted her expectat ion that "it would be easy." Al though it was painful to wake up to this new reality, Mrs . Smith sufficiently indicated that the lessons learned through exper ience will guide her future endeavors teaching critical thinking. Mrs. Black W e know that the implementat ion of an innovation is a p rocess of change charged with complexity and that the individual undergoing change will exper ience discomfort due to lack of clarity regarding the innovation itself, the implementation of it, or both. Therefore, the clarification process in the actual "doing" of the innovat ion—troublesome and uncomfortable in its very nature—is at the heart of change. Ful lan says , "not everyone exper iences the comforts of fa lse clarity." (2007, p. 90) In chapter four, the descr ipt ions of what appeared to be success fu l , s tudent-engaged critical thinking lessons were framed by Mrs. 83 Black 's post-study comments that reiterated and only minutely extended her pre- study beliefs about the purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking. Virtually no change happened; ultimately, the innovat ion—a rich and complex concept ion of critical th inking—was not clear to her, nor did she realize that there was "more to it" during the implementation process. B e c a u s e Mrs. Black had not explored the TC2 model of critical thinking, and due to her inclination toward the practicality of a new resource, her false clarity and "surface level" adoption of the materials are the prominent features of her case . In a quest for indicators of complexity (that is, the exper ienced difficulties or extent of change), the following excerpt from the December interview demonstrated my efforts to get below the surface and a c c e s s Mrs. B lack 's thoughts about how she may have changed. I probed using three different quest ions: Researcher : W e ' v e talked about the students' activities and their engagement with the critical chal lenges. But who is Mrs. Black in all of this? In what way has participating in this study been a professional learning exper ience for you? Mrs. Black: I remember when the kids recorded all the products made from natural resources in one room of their house. W h e n it came to the evaluation part, I know that Mrs. Smith said that this was really hard so I went through it thoroughly to make sure I knew what I was do ing. . . . This activity is really neat and I definitely want to do it aga in . . . . A n d I will definitely do the mapping activities again. The game was so good . . . . Researcher : Deeper than just "what to teach again," what have you been learning about yourself as a teacher teaching critical thinking? Talk about what you were thinking, not what the kids were doing. 84 Mrs. Black: I've a lways tried to bring critical thinking into my teaching because I think it is important.... I think that even in grade five kids still look up to their teachers and what you say somet imes is "law"... I've a lways tried to teach critical thinking and this exper ience has given me another way to do it—implement it—and it's given me more tools to use which is really helpful. Like I said before, you've got so much to do. S o much marking, so much prepping. . . . I need time for other things. S o Critical Challenges gave me another valuable tool. I think I can take the ideas, even if I wasn' t teaching socia l studies, and naturally adapt them to other things and that, for me as a professional , is really important. I like resources that I can use. Researcher : W a s there ever a point in time when you felt uncomfortable with teaching critical thinking? Anything that made you go "hmm"? Anything that felt fuzzy or unclear in your mind? Mrs. Black: I don't recall feeling uncomfortable. W h e n I read something and I don't quite get it, I a lways go back and reread it because I think it's important that if you're going to teach something, you have to know what you're teaching. . . . I don't remember anything in particular that made me go "huh?". . . I can't think of anything in particular that I thought was unclear. (4D) The response to the third quest ion verifies the absence of complexity in Mrs. B lack 's exper ience and thus confirms that no change in her concept ion of critical thinking occurred while she used the Critical Challenges materials. The interview excerpt above is rich with indicators of fa lse clarity, that is, Mrs. B lack 's oversimplif ication of the innovation. Fundamenta l to the teaching of critical thinking according to the T C 2 model is the teaching and assess ing of the intellectual tools. In her response to the second quest ion, she referred to the new tools she acquired through teaching the chal lenges; although she did not specify what she meant by valuable 85 tools, it appears to be new lesson " ideas", the merits of which are apparently in their e a s e of use and transferability to other subjects. From this example it is safe to a s s u m e that she was not referring to the intellectual tools, the cornerstone of the concept ion. Unlike her co l leagues, the essent ia l terms used in the T C 2 materials (background knowledge, thinking strategies, criteria for judgment, etc.) were conspicuous ly absent in Mrs. B lack 's vocabulary throughout all the interviews. What was "not sa id" coupled with the many general comments , vague in descr ibing the concrete connect ions between the learning activities and the critical thinking concept ion (Ful lan, 2007), revealed her oversimplif ication of the innovation. Somet imes false clarity is ev idenced when teachers respond to an innovation by saying "we are already doing that" (Ful lan, 2007, p. 89). Th is is indeed the case with Mrs. Black who stated twice that she "always tried to teach critical thinking." By assert ing that critical thinking w a s a pre-existing feature of her teaching, her perception of the potential change latent in the innovation is comparat ively smal l and "is based only on the more superficial goal and content aspec ts of the [resource] to the neglect of beliefs and teaching strategies." (Ful lan, 2007, p. 90) In May, it was evident that the false clarity had been sustained: Researcher : Wou ld you say that you have a new way of thinking about critical thinking this year? 86 Mrs. Black: I think so. It has always been important to me. Through these resources, it has reinforced that what I have been teaching [with critical thinking] in the past has been important. It has given some more ways that I can teach it. (5M) There is no new way of thinking. Accord ing to her reason, the present exper ience validated the past and a new resource equipped her with fresh alternatives to add to future units. A s noted earlier, Mrs. Smith possessed conceptual clarity and ran into difficulties with procedures. In Mrs. Black, we see the reverse. Procedural clarity trumps conceptual clarity from the very beginning: W h e n I opened up the Critical Challenges book, I started reading and then I sk ipped to the next part because it w a s just too much. Somet imes when it talks about how the book is laid out, it's too much and it goes on for page after page after page, and after I'm on the fifth page, / just want to see what it is. I don't want to read any more. (1S, emphas is added) S h e is typical of many teachers who, when introduced to new curr iculum, are more interested in answering "what will I have to do?" than "what is it?" (Evans, 1996; Ful lan, 2007) A critical distinction must be made: procedural clarity can only be partially ach ieved if it is truncated from conceptual clarity. Accord ing to the statement above, the "it" in her desire to know "what it is" was the lesson plan. Consequent ly , she del ivered the lessons without being cognizant of the underlying meaning of the pedagogical approach, a highly significant oversight on her part. 87 A s someone guided by exper ience and observat ion rather than by theory, Mrs. B lack 's sense of practicality of the innovation was limited to the pragmatic aspects of the lessons. A s the interview excerpt revealed, she valued user- friendly resources, particularly time-efficient ones. S h e praised the Critical Challenges materials on account of their step-by-step procedures that were easy to follow and blackl ine masters from which she could pick and choose. (1S) Buss i s researched the distinctions between superficial and deeper meaning of change and found that "some teachers operated at the level of surface curr iculum, focusing on the lesson and seeing that the students were 'busy'" (Ful lan, 2001 , p. 42). Indeed, Mrs. Black considered her critical thinking lessons success fu l according to the fact that students were highly engaged ; benefits that fed her notion of success included on-task group process work and the positive feedback from parents. Evans points out that practicality and need are "c lose companions. Teachers must not only want to implement a change, they must feel that they can achieve it" (Evans, p. 85). Mrs. B lack 's sense of need, in contrast to Mrs. Smith 's "up c lose and personal" , seemed distant and general . A s was mentioned in the previous chapter, the problem of "kids these days" who just "want the answers poured into them", whether in her c lassroom or in society at large, is a prominent theme that tracks its way through her statements about the purposes for teaching critical thinking. G iven that she is disturbed by the problem that students resist being independent thinkers and learners, her hopes for kids to latch on to critical 88 thinking are not high. Wil l this critical thinking unit feasibly begin to address the need? Here again, her shal low understanding of the concept ion deprived her of see ing the ev idence of critical thinking that was happening before her eyes as she enjoyed being "a fly on the wall". W h e n she spoke of students who naturally "get it" she hastened to comment on the intellectual or behavioral immaturity of others. Even when it was pointed out that the students were not exhibiting the negative behaviours she had anticipated as problematic while teaching critical thinking, she was not convinced and suggested that the lesson may not have fared so well with a less talkative group of students. (3N) With the innovation reduced in her mind to the piloting of a new resource, a few new lesson ideas were not sufficient to "meet a perceived need in a promising way" (Evans, 1996). In this study, "change" on Mrs. B lack 's terms was about variety in her teaching materials and methods and had very little to do with deeper professional learning. I like the Critical Challenges, however, it could get redundant, that is, lots of paper (photocopying) and a lot of d iscuss ion. I would like to teach a unit and implement different tasks, d iscuss ions etc. "as they fit" so that they don't s e e m forced. It a lso takes longer to teach as you need to teach students how to behave in d iscuss ions. (5M) I'd like to bring critical thinking into everything and I'm trying. That 's my goal . I a lso think that the longer you teach, the better you get at it. A n d you have exper ience with what works and what doesn't . Y o u keep changing things and making it better as you go along. (5M) 89 Mrs. Jay For Mrs. Jay , change began with vulnerability. Hesitant yet will ing, she knew the cost of her decis ion to participate in a professional learning opportunity would be a personal stretch. During the process, she came to know the rewards for her risk-taking when the benefits for her students outweighed the costs for herself. The benefits were there for her a lso, to the extent that she was able to descr ibe her involvement in this study as "a gift". The descript ion of her exper ience in chapter four demonstrated that she progressed from a general to a more complex concept ion of critical thinking in terms of its purposes, benefits, problems, and requisite condit ions. In addit ion, there was congruency between what she was "learning" and what she was "doing". Two quotes will bookend the analys is of her change in terms of need , clarity, complexity, and practicality. Before the study: "To tell you the truth, I never really thought that much about the critical thinking part of our mission statement.. . . My focus has been on the Christ-centred teaching." (10) After the study: "Critical Challenges has moved me out of my comfort zone . It's made me stop and think about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. It took a bit of energy—I was taking the book home and thinking it through because I wanted to do a good job.. . ." (3D) Mrs. Jay ' s exper ience reads like a s u c c e s s story because there was ev idence of growth in her perceived need, conceptual and procedural clarity, complexity affecting deeply-held beliefs and pract ices, and a grasp of the practicality and quality of the innovation. Furthermore, this case illustrates how these four 90 characterist ics of change operate like a system of sympathet ic vibrations, each one setting off the other in dynamic interactions. It is a lso helpful to bear in mind Ful lan's wide angle view of "change in practice" and the three d imensions involved: new materials, new teaching approaches, and altered beliefs (Ful lan, 2007). Al though an eight week study is a mere sliver of t ime in the p rocess of change, the compl icated nature of it sur faces immediately. A s we noted with Mrs. Smith, the understanding of critical thinking that existed before implementing the resource affected the starting point, expectat ions and process of change. Mrs. Jay ' s starting point was not character ized by conf idence or enthus iasm but by a disposit ion of openness to change. By her admiss ion, she was never really c lear—for over a decade—about what critical thinking meant at her schoo l . For her, the vision statement was an external motivation dev ice which did not generate any real sense of need to pursue improving her ability to teach critical thinking, even though she recognized that it was important that students receive instruction in it. Prominent advocates of critical thinking have for decades bemoaned the reality that critical thinking is valued in rhetoric and widely ignored in practice, largely due to the lack of direction in how to teach it effectively. (Paul , 1993; C a s e & Wright, 1997) A s Ful lan observed, many schoo ls initiate reform and fail to follow through with implementation (2007). Reca l l from chapter four that Mrs. Jay felt she lacked any formal training in teaching critical thinking and so she and her co l leagues typically used "why" quest ions on tests to demonstrate that critical thinking existed in their units. 91 Without a sense of definition or direction on what critical thinking is and how we teach it at the school , she relegated it as a "distant second " and focused on Christ ian perspect ive as her top priority need. G iven that she did not know enough about critical thinking, it fol lows that her sense of need would be correspondingly low. The quest ionnaire statements about the purposes and benefits of teaching critical thinking offer some insights into how her s e n s e of need evolved neck-on- neck with her increasing clarity. A n interesting trade-off s e e m s to occur. Ear ly on, these statements included references to Christ ian perspect ive, however these ideas were not present in the post-study quest ionnaire. For example, at the beginning she envis ioned students as being independent thinkers, skept ical of the information they received but able to use the Bible as their authoritative guide for responsible l iving/cit izenship. (Questionnaire 1) Later, she defined critical thinkers as students who understood issues deeply and were able to make wise cho ices in life as a result of being equipped with the intellectual tools such as empathetical ly hearing alternate viewpoints, evaluating reliability, supporting with ev idence, and drawing wel l - reasoned conclus ions. (Quest ionnaire 2) Perhaps her amorphous notion of critical thinking over the years had al lowed her to blend it into her Christ ian perspect ive "why quest ions" in an effort to chal lenge students to think more deeply. "I guess I a lways try to look at Scripture and see how it fits into the lesson and to how we think critically." (10) At the end of the study, a much more developed descript ion of critical thinking 9 2 emerged, no longer entangled with Christ ian perspect ive. Th is is not to say that religious truth and authority were no longer important to her. Rather, it demonstrates what her new concept ion of critical thinking is (a process of thinking) and what it is not (an apologetic, that is, a justification of the truth). In May, she asserted that students are best served if they know "why they bel ieve" as opposed to "what they bel ieve." Th is understanding led her to a conviction that critical thinking is "far more necessary now than I would have thought before" and essent ia l for students to "survive in society." A significant change in her perceived need and purpose for teaching critical thinking indeed. Surely, however, her greater s e n s e of need would not have occurred if it had not been for the increasing clarity of the concept ion. "Change in practice" (Ful lan, 2007) in all three d imensions was evident after Mrs. Jay del ivered two lessons in her first critical chal lenge. S h e recognized that these materials demanded more of her students—not only to answer "why" but then to provide quality reasons to support their v iews—"the extra step!" (10) This seedl ing notion that critical thinking involved justification of opinions, supporting ev idence or wel l - reasoned conclus ions steadily grew throughout the implementation process. By the end of the study she was definitely establ ishing a new standard in her instruction which included intentionally allowing students greater "think time" and automatically call ing on them to qualify their answers . In this second example, she real ized that the critical chal lenges demanded more of her. "I'm not the filter for their ideas—the peers are. I am exper iencing a new 93 style of teaching, but it's good for me to be stretched." (10) The benefits of smal l group work that she wi tnessed in the second lesson were such a positive revelation that they outweighed the cost of relinquishing her control. By December she was praising the advantages of increased smal l group work because it had given all students increased "microphone time." (3D) Both these examples illustrated the power of a positive first impression when a teacher attempts something new and, more importantly, the likelihood that the change will be susta ined if the immediate reward is the proof and/or potential of improved student learning. (Evans, 1996; Ful lan, 2007) T h e s e two examples a lso show how conceptual and procedural clarity interactively evolved. The catalyst for the change was the new book that nudged this veteran teacher out of her "comfort zone. " But as was evident in Mrs. B lack 's case , the implementation of a lesson a lone does not go the distance; the second essent ia l ingredient for "change in practice" is the teacher 's reflective thinking about what is being done. "Critical Challenges has made me stop and think about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it." (3D) The self-evaluation she was engaged in indicated that changes were occurring in her beliefs about critical thinking. Over the course of eight weeks , the key words of critical thinking became part of the c lassroom vernacular, extending beyond the boundary of socia l studies lessons. Then it dawned on Mrs. Jay that her assessmen t of students' progress would need to keep pace with the changes the c lass was exper iencing; for the first t ime in her career, she included a comment about each student's progress in critical thinking in the report cards. During the winter and spring following the study, she revised her 94 unit tests s ince "the typical why quest ion" no longer reflected her new understanding of critical thinking. Clear ly, the source for the changes she made in assessmen t was the innovation, not the Critical Challenges book. Complexi ty has to do with the nature and extent of the change as it is exper ienced by the individual. The discomfort of deeper change is felt when core beliefs are being chal lenged; there were three issues that hit a nerve for Mrs. Jay . The first comfort zone to encounter disruption was the move from teacher- guided to student-centred lessons; as already ment ioned, she was forced to weigh the costs and benefits of sacrif icing her usual role of control in critical thinking d iscuss ions. A second inner battle had to do with curriculum content: her wel l -establ ished priority of covering the course material was threatened by the addit ional time needed to deliver the unit with a critical thinking perspect ive. S h e conc luded that critical thinking did not d isp lace a content-rich unit, but rather, heightened the meaning of the knowledge. Thirdly, she sa id , "I'm unravel ing" when she reached the midpoint of the study. Whi le d iscuss ing the reliability of information sources, the students quest ioned her core belief regarding biblical authority. "When I sa id , 'This is the inspired Word of G o d , ' the kids asked , 'What d o e s that really m e a n ? How do you know it is absolute truth?'" Her response was "I actually find it chal lenging. I'm on the edge but thinking that it's eas ier to be here." (2N) Resolut ion to this inner conflict was not swift and sure and she chose to live with ambiguity, honestly answering her students' quest ions, even if the answer was "I don't know". What l iberates her to hang in the balance is her 95 vision for students who raise the difficult quest ions: "It's such a huge part of learning! ... W e want them to be critical thinkers." (20) There is a lso complexity to be found in the practical, everyday outworking of the innovation. For Mrs. Smith, it was the seemingly smal l wrinkles that wreaked havoc, but for Mrs. Jay and Mrs. B lack exper ience comes to the rescue. Al l three teachers had issues with pacing the unit, waning student interest and group process . The way in which Mrs. Jay negotiated the problems of practicality demonstrated mutual adaptation with regards to the materials and her teaching pract ices (McLaughl in , 2004). That is, the dec is ions and adjustments she made over time revealed a two-way process of the materials changing her teaching and her modif ications of the materials. For example , she altered student reference materials and chose to do more activities with chart paper and markers because this enabled academical ly struggling students to participate more successful ly . In her student assessmen ts , she chose to rely more heavily on the ev idence of critical thinking she wi tnessed in their oral work rather than the use of written work and evaluation rubric as the final test. Excel lent examples of how the materials changed her are the acquisit ion of the critical thinking language and the inclusion of "wait time." Highly unique to Mrs . J a y was her capacity for change. The costs and benefits were constantly being weighed and, remarkably, she opted for the tough cho ices. The research regarding the extent of professional change in exper ienced 96 teachers shows the opposite outcome (Evans, 1996; McLaughl in & Marsh , 1990) and therefore her case stands out conspicuously as a refreshing and optimistic story. This analys is would not be complete without a g lance at what would account for the s u c c e s s in this narrow window of time. S h e was conscient ious in doing her homework. W h e n the resource stopped her in her tracks, she took the book home. Certainly her expectat ion of personal change became a self-fulfilling prophecy. By being open to change, her vulnerability led to a ser ies of rel inquishments in her practice and some beliefs. O n e belief in particular was chal lenged and suspended (i.e., questioning the authority of the Bible), and there did not appear to be angst over this, but rather, exhilaration about being on the edge of growth. There w a s one belief that went uncha l lenged—Mrs. J a y deeply va lues "the voice of the chi ld." Somet imes I shut the blinds, light a candle, get comfortable with feet up on our desks and we have "conversat ions" and anybody can say what they want; it's quiet and dark—the kids respond. They request "light the candle" t imes. (10) Unl ike her co l leagues who also noted the importance of a respectful c lass cl imate, her priority on establ ishing a safe environment for honest dialogue motivated her to go the extra mile. There was ample ev idence of this in chapter four regarding condit ions requisite for critical thinking. The difference between her first and second quest ionnaire responses is significant enough to recapitulate. Prior to the study she cited a social ly, emotional ly and intellectually secure c lassroom climate as the sole condit ion; after the study, her list of condit ions maintained her former point and added the explicit teaching of thinking 97 strategies and intellectual tools. Therefore, as she learned more about teaching critical thinking, she saw its potential for extending the voice of her students. The following quote illustrates the dissatisfact ion that drove her need for the students to be heard in conjunction with the need for critical thinking: My parents were very authoritarian; we weren't asked our opinions. W e just did what we were supposed to do and there wasn' t that level of communicat ion. Our generat ion is different and these kids are in the next one—head ing into a postmodern, pluralistic soc ie ty—and that does make critical thinking necessary . (10) The final anecdote al ludes to one more distinctive aspect of Mrs. Jay ' s case , one that begins to show signs that, under supportive condit ions, the c lassroom can become a critical thinking learning community: I spend more time just d iscuss ing things with the kids. I used to think this was just a waste of time. Just talking with them and letting them have a voice. But when I do that, I'm always a m a z e d at the r ichness that's there. A n d I know that years ago when I w a s at this school , there was this teacher who was c lose to retiring and he always talked about the d iscuss ions he had with his chi ldren. A n d I thought, "Wel l , you need to teach antonyms and synonyms and all those things." A n d he sa id , "They will create their own path of their own learning to that which is more meaningful to them." But now I can see what he was say ing: that there are those things that are so meaningful that they are worth the time. We ' re so bound by covering of the curr iculum. But to teach critical thinking is to allow them the freedom to explore their ideas. (4M) Conclusion The three c a s e s of change were distinct in and of themselves. For Mrs. Smith, little change was exper ienced in perceived need and conceptual clarity. Her changes in procedural clarity, complexity and practicality come as no surprise because she was 98 a beginning teacher. Inhabited by false clarity, Mrs. Black adopted some practical ideas but encountered negligible change in her perceived need, clarity and complexity of the innovation. Mrs. Jay encountered a compl icated process because she faced changes in perceived need, clarity, complexity, and practicality s imultaneously. Of the four factors affecting implementation of an innovation, the dominant characterist ic of change that wielded its force throughout the c a s e s was clarity. A n d while the aspects of conceptual and procedural clarity were vital to these cases , the role of the other three characterist ics of change was not d iminished. Al l four are interactive; it was the coupl ing of clarity with need, complexity and practicality that posit ioned clarity as the prevail ing force in the teachers ' exper ienced changes . A s Ful lan rightly contends, the development of clarity in relation to a new idea is the crux of change (2007, p. 104). E a c h teacher needed greater definition and direction on what critical thinking is and how to teach it at their schoo l . A n understanding of what it is nor would have also been beneficial in their context. Over time, changes in these four factors occurred through two means : attempts to use the innovation and d iscuss ion. First, clarity-by-doing. Fundamenta l to the teachers ' evolving understanding of the critical thinking concept ion were the routine activities of reading, planning, lesson execut ion, and reflecting. The extent to which each teacher engaged in these tasks accounts in part for the variation in conceptual and procedural clarity between them. For example, Mrs. Jay took Critical Challenges home to read and plan, whereas Mrs. Black did not 99 read the theoretical information provided in the introduction. Teachers come to know something by doing it, that is, through experimenting in their practice. Second ly , clari ty-by-conversation. D iscuss ion enab les those encountering change to identify with, support and learn from one another. Mrs. Smith had much to offer her co l leagues in terms of theoretical understandings of the innovation and much to gain from the others' experiential knowledge. Mrs. Black, in need of enl ightenment regarding the innovation, would have benefited from hearing the progressive revelation that was occurring for Mrs. Jay. For the veteran teacher, model ing her reflective thinking through d iscuss ion would have been useful for her co l leagues. The simple act of verbal izat ion afforded her increasing clarity and the consol idat ion of ideas. Only Mrs. Smith cited col legial conversat ion as a condition that supported teaching critical thinking; to figure something out, it helps to talk it through with someone who is in the s a m e process. In this study, however, the teachers did relatively little talking about their exper iences among themselves. They began their units at different start t imes, roughly three weeks apart. A n orientation workshop prior to the implementation of the materials was not held and the focus group sess ions had mixed results. Talking to the researcher was the foremost way in which the teachers were free to conversat ional ly work through the "highs and lows" they were encounter ing in the Critical Challenges unit. Resea rch bears out that the optimal way for teachers to undergo change is to talk their way through it while they are doing it. (Ful lan, 2007) 100 Another theme that emerges from the c a s e s is that a teacher 's motivation to change is shaped by ongoing percept ions of costs and benefits. A l l three teachers were p leased with the resource from a practicality standpoint and declared that they would definitely use it again. Therefore, the motivation to continue with the materials/ innovation implies that their understanding of the costs involved in implementation had been superceded by benefits exper ienced thus far. S o m e of the costs that emerged in this study were: a lack of t ime, feel ings of confusion, apprehensions about parent reactions, decl ining student interest, unmet expectat ions, working alone (isolation), monitoring group process, and relinquishing control. The benefits that contributed to their understanding that the change was worthwhile included: student learning, interest and engagement , the interest and support of parents, and a deepen ing value for the schoo l 's vision statement. The schoo l context cannot be ignored. Al l three felt the impact of the vision statement in their own unique ways , however Mrs. Jay felt that she encountered potentially coll iding worldviews. Is it poss ib le for critical thinking a s an "ethic" or way of life (Sears and Parsons , 1997)—the underlying belief of the T C 2 m o d e l — to coexist with biblical wor ldview? Mrs. Jay was on her way to building a c lassroom community of critical thinkers without compromis ing her deep convict ion that her c lassroom is a Christ ian learning community. Her quest ion about the fit of critical thinking in relation to apologet ics, though, is a matter that needs to surface in constructive col legial dialogue within the school . With such a 101 rich concept ion of critical thinking, the ongoing task of clarifying its implications paramount at both the individual and community level. 102 CHAPTER SIX Summary and Discussion This chapter briefly summar izes the purpose, method and conclus ions of the study and then d i scusses some implications for curriculum materials and further research. Summary The purpose of this study was to answer this quest ion: "How do elementary teachers ' concept ions of teaching critical thinking change while teaching a unit that exempl i f ies a new critical thinking pedagogy?" Three intermediate teachers in one schoo l responded to pre and post quest ionnaires, and participated in a ser ies of individual and focus group interviews held at the beginning, middle and end of the unit's implementation period (September to December , 2006). Data regarding indicators of change were col lected in each teacher 's descript ions of her perceived purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and condit ions requisite to teaching critical thinking over an eight week time frame. Attention was also given to context because it was a fai th-based independent schoo l which incorporated teaching critical thinking into its vision statement. It was found that teachers exper ienced change along four criteria: perceived need and priority for teaching critical thinking, clarity in both conceptual and procedural aspects of the concept ion, the nature and extent of complexity 103 exper ienced while using the resource materials, and the practicality of the materials and methods in which the critical thinking concept ion was embedded . The three c a s e s were distinct: the enthusiast ic first-year teacher who possessed a sophist icated understanding of the concept ion changed in her understanding of practicality and complexity a s she encountered practical problems and unmet expectat ions; the exper ienced teacher did not attain clarity of the critical thinking concept ion resulting in superficial change regarding the practicality and complexity of the resource; the veteran teacher exper ienced change along all four criteria which consequent ly altered her definition, teaching pract ices and beliefs about critical thinking. Of the four interactive criteria which affected the change process, clarity emerged as the dominant factor; means of achieving clarity were attempted through the use of the materials and some d iscuss ion. For all three, the motivation to use the resource again was shaped by their percept ions that the benefits for students outweighed the costs for teachers. They a lso shared the value that teaching critical thinking in tandem with their faith perspect ive was highly beneficial in promoting students' lifelong learning. Ev idence of successfu l change was also seen in the use of intellectual tools in other subject areas. T h e most overt s igns were the inclusion of critical thinking vocabulary within c lassroom d iscuss ions and the requirement that the criteria underlying judgments be made explicit. The latter was ev idenced by al lowing students more "think time" before voicing an answer or opinion and then pursuing the justifications for their ideas. For one teacher, increased time spent on critical 104 thinking triggered new perspect ives on student assessmen t ac ross the subjects and her testing pract ices were modif ied. One of the habits of mind that was valued and focused on by all the teachers was sensitivity to the feel ings of others. Barriers to the desired change were also present. For all three teachers, the lack of d iscuss ion with others during the process contributed to feel ings of isolation. Further, prior concept ions of critical thinking were powerful enough to obstruct changes in understanding; in two cases , the resistance to giving up prior ideas contributed to lack of clarity around the new concept ion. Discussion Even though this study occurred in an independent schoo l , the findings are relevant to both public and independent schools . Currently the Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum ser ies is of interest in the broader context of British Co lumb ia and other jurisdictions. During the past decade , the Crit ical Thinking Consort ium was the birthplace of an updated and upgraded view of critical thinking that then became incorporated into Ministry of Educat ion documents in British Co lumbia (Darling and Wright, 2004, p. 249). For example, new curriculum for socia l studies to be implemented in all public and independent schoo ls commenc ing September 2008 contains a sharpened focus on the teaching of critical thinking (Ministry, 2006). This indicates that the Critical Challenges will continue to be v iewed as favoured resources enabl ing teachers, 105 schoo ls and districts to meet the curricular goals for student learning, and will come into the hands of more teachers at all grade leve ls—teachers who represent a wide range of preconcept ions about what critical thinking is and how to teach it. S o m e will have the opportunity to explore the materials and the embedded concept ion of critical thinking through professional development seminars , but many will not. The ideal condit ions prior to and during the implementation of this particular concept ion are often beyond a Ministry's or schoo l district's control. Yet, unless a teacher becomes aware of the concept ion of critical thinking embodied in the materials, she will remain oblivious to its implications (i.e., complexit ies). The Critical Challenges require much of a teacher if there is to be growth in the intended way. Obviously there must be a wi l l ingness and open-mindedness to experiment with the materials and teaching methods, and a tolerance for ambiguity which inevitably appears when "something" is unclear or unexpected. But more demanding still, the Critical Challenges require a commitment to thoroughly study the materials for the embodied concept ion; the materials are not intended as immediate lesson plans and student activities so much as exemplars of a concept ion. Th is study therefore raises an important quest ion about the approach to fostering teacher change implicit within the T C 2 materials. They are des igned to convey to teachers an understanding of critical thinking in two ways : the concept ion is first explained in each book 's introductory paragraphs fol lowed by an extensive exemplar of an instructional unit. The foreword provides the conceptual 106 foundation for the exemplar, and the exemplar illustrates what the concept ion m e a n s for c lass room practice. The underlying belief is that through studying and using the stand-alone materials, teachers can acquire the concept ion. The point of the materials is teacher development rather than the provision of pre-made teaching lessons. But how realistic is this approach to change? The c a s e s of Mrs. Black and Mrs. Jay suggest that further support is necessary . S o m e T C 2 publications such as Critical Challenges in Social Studies for Junior High Students (Case , Daniels & Schwartz , 1996) included an introductory essay and d iagrams to assist teachers ' understanding of the concept ion and its pedagogica l approach. However, the abbreviated version of the introduction found in one of the books used during this research study limited the at-hand reference information participants could turn to for clarif ication. Unfortunately it cannot be a s s u m e d that teachers (such as Mrs. Black) who receive these materials will read the introduction to acquaint themse lves with the concept ion or that they will have an opportunity to attend an orientation workshop. The common front- loaded professional development approach which consists of information seminars prior to implementation of the materials may be more helpful but is a lso f lawed by its detachment of theory and practice. The case of Mrs. Smith compell ingly suggests that even with extensive knowledge about the concept ion prior to using the materials, further clarity about the concept ion evolves when theory and pract ice meet, thus making ongoing and just-in-time support necessary . A rich concept ion of critical thinking is not adequately conveyed 107 through using the materials alone; an ongoing teacher learning process must be anticipated and supported. This study raises a caution about a general izat ion in the literature on teacher change: the more exper ienced the teacher, the less likely she may voluntarily engage in significant instructional change (MacLaughl in and Marsh , 1990; Evans , 1996). But the teacher of twenty-eight years emerged as the most changeful in the intended way and it is worthwhile to attend to some factors that may account for the anomaly. The initial gate to change is willingness to d iscuss and experiment with the new materials. The more advanced one may be in her career, though, the less appeal ing the commitment may be because it implies walking away from the comforts of familiarity, forfeiting favourite materials and methods and then facing the practical costs of working harder and longer. What were s o m e pre-existing "first step factors" that appear to have motivated wi l l ingness in Mrs. J a y ? The list includes: a disposit ion of openness to consider change, including an internal dialogue "routine" whereby she systematical ly combats her resistance to new ideas; a hesitation to participate based on her "realistic projections", including an expectancy of discomfort and a conviction that being stretched is a good thing; a belief that she teaches to serve the best interests of her students and a trust in the administrators who endorsed this project; a realization that her capacity for change has increased in recent years and a greater commitment to exploring new ideas through professional reading due to availability of time in the evening now that her chi ldren are young adults; 108 knowledge (and some guilt) that she had not given the teaching of critical thinking the priority she felt it deserved for over a decade and an admiss ion that she had never been very c lear on what critical thinking entai led; and prayer as part of her deliberations before consent ing to participate in this study. Th is list suggests that there may be more var iables than the finding of the Rand study which c la imed that the most powerful attribute of exper ienced teachers that st imulated their participation in professional growth was self-eff icacy (MacLaughl in and Marsh , 1990, p. 224). Mrs. Jay ' s c lassroom context (a larger proportion of students with lower academic ability), and her perception that student benefits outweighed the costs, demonstrated the presence of self- eff icacy. Logical ly, self-eff icacy would be a positive motivator during the implementation and sustaining phases of change when the teacher perceives the potential for or begins to wi tness student benefits. But does it have the s a m e motivational force as a "first step factor" to convert a weak s e n s e of perceived need into act ion? Arguably, other factors a longside self-eff icacy contribute to a veteran teacher 's wi l l ingness to engage in change. The case of Mrs. Jay cal ls attention to admirable virtues cultivated over time that mark her maturity as an educator: humility, honesty, trust, and most notably, her courage to choose change. There is an implication for fai th-based independent schools . The T C 2 concept ion of critical thinking promotes an ethic consist ing of principles that potentially pose chal lenges for fai th-based learning communit ies. For example , the principles that 109 knowledge is not fixed and is subject to change or that critical thinking necessi tates a skeptical attitude may threaten a community 's beliefs about the nature of truth and authority; the promotion of empathy for alternative worldviews may also initially be perceived as confrontational (Evans and Hundey, 2004, p. 230). A s one might assume , independent schoo ls p lace considerable emphas is on "underlying beliefs", primarily because these beliefs are what motivated them to become alternatives to public school ing in the first p lace; however, teachers ' beliefs about critical thinking in this study did change—most evident in the reshaping of their perceived needs and purposes for teaching critical thinking. Al l three felt that their faith and critical thinking were complementary but to varying degrees. The isolation felt when one teacher initially perceived incompatibility between her religious beliefs and critical thinking points to the need for ongoing d iscuss ion within her schoo l context. A collective understanding of what critical thinking is, what it is not, and how to teach it could offer much more than clarif ication. It has the potential of providing col legial support through an ongoing process toward shared meaning. Further research could examine the role of language in facilitating and hindering how teachers come to interpret and implement a concept ion of critical thinking. Two of the teachers initially spoke of critical thinking in terms of "ski l ls" whereas the third referred to thinking "tools." The former focused on students knowing "how to" do something (e.g., procedures for conducting an inclusive group discussion) rather than on the concept ion. The latter had a sophist icated 110 understanding of critical thinking which enabled her to differentiate it from "general thinking" or "deeper thinking." To some degree, word choice is the issue, but it is more than semant ics and it s e e m s especial ly pertinent to elementary teachers. In the s a m e way that the term "critical thinking" is somet imes used as a catch-al l for descr ibing thinking-very-hard, the word "skil l" is a lso a victim of fa lse clarity and over-general ized by teachers at the lower grades where the transition to a more process-minded approach to educat ing students has popular ized a nebulous notion that learning is predominantly a cont inuum of skill development. Consequent ly , words such as memory, observat ion and evaluation lose their status as stand-alone concepts and have the word "skil ls" tacked onto them. The intentionality of the Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium in articulating what critical thinking is not in relation to the word "skil l" opens a door for further investigation regarding the "de-ski l l ing" of critical thinking and, more generally, an account ing for the proliferation of "skills talk" in elementary schoo ls today (Case and Wright, 1997). I l l REFERENCES Bail in, S . , C a s e , R., C o o m b s , J . , & Daniels, L. (1993, September) . A concept ion of critical thinking for curr iculum, instruction and assessment . Unpubl ished report to Examinat ions Branch, Ministry of Educat ion, Victor ia, British Co lumbia . Bai l in, S . , C a s e , R., C o o m b s , J . , & Daniels, L. (1999a). C o m m o n misconcept ions of critical thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 269-283. Bai l in, S . , C a s e , R., C o o m b s , J . , & Daniels, L. (1999b). Conceptual iz ing critical thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 285-302. C a s e , R. (Ed.). (2004). Critical challenges across the curriculum: Caring for young people's rights. R ichmond, B C : The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium. C a s e , R. & Clark, P. (Eds.). (1997). The Canadian anthology of social studies: Issues and strategies for teachers. Burnaby, B C : Field Relat ions and Teacher In-service Educat ion, Faculty of Educat ion, S imon Fraser University. C a s e , R. & Daniels, L. (2003). Introduction to the TC2 conception of critical thinking. Vancouver , B C : The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium. http://tc2.ca/about/about-crit ical-thinkinq/. C a s e , R., Daniels, L , & Schwartz , P. (Eds.). (1996). Critical challenges in social studies for junior high students. R ichmond, B C : The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium. C a s e , R. & Misfeldt, C . (Eds.). (2002). Critical challenges across the curriculum: Managing our natural wealth. Victor ia, B C : Ministry of Educat ion. C a s e , R., & Wright, I. (1997). Tak ing seriously the teaching of critical thinking. In R. C a s e & P. Clark (Eds.), The Canadian anthology of social studies: Issues and strategies for teachers (pp. 179-193). Burnaby, B C : Field Relat ions and Teacher In-service Educat ion, Faculty of Educat ion, S imon Fraser University. Creswel l , J . (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks , C A : S a g e . Darl ing, L. F. & Wright, I. (2004). Crit ical thinking and the "soc ia l " in soc ia l studies. In A . Sea rs & I. Wright (Eds.), Challenges & prospects for Canadian social studies (pp. 247-258). Vancouver , B C : Paci f ic Educat ional P ress . 112 Evans , M. & Hundey, I. (2004). Instructional approaches in socia l studies educat ion: From "what to teach" to "how to teach". In A . Sea rs & I. Wright (Eds.) , Challenges & prospects for Canadian social studies (pp. 218-235). Vancouver , B C : Paci f ic Educat ional P ress . Evans , R. (1996). The human side of school change: Reform, resistance, and the real-life problems of innovation. S a n Franc isco, C A : J o s s e y - B a s s Publ ishers. Ful lan, M. (2001). The new meaning of educational change (third edition). N e w York: Teachers Co l lege P ress . Ful lan, M. (2007). The new meaning of educational change (fourth edition). New York : Teache rs Co l lege P ress . G l e s n e , C . (2006). Becoming qualitative researchers: An introduction (third edition). Toronto, O N : Al lyn & Bacon . Harr ison, J . , Smith, N. & Wright, I. (Eds.). (1998). Critical challenges in social studies for upper elementary students. Vancouver , B C : The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium. L ipman, M. (1988). Critical thinking: What can it be? Upper Montclair, N J : Institute for Crit ical Thinking, Montclair State Col lege. McLaugh l in , M. & Marsh , D. (1990). Staff development and schoo l change. In A . L ieberman (Ed.), Schools as collaborative cultures: Creating the future now. New York: Falmer. McLaugh l in , M. W . (2004). Implementation as mutual adaptat ion: C h a n g e in c lassroom organizat ion. In D. Fl inders & S . Thornton (Eds.), The Curriculum studies reader (second edition). New York: Rout ledge Falmer. M c P e c k , J . E. (1990a). Teaching critical thinking. New York: Rout ledge. M c P e c k , J . E. (1990b). R ichard Pau l ' s critique of critical thinking and education. In J . E. M c P e c k (Ed.), Teaching critical thinking (pp. 112-123). New York: Rout ledge. Ministry of Educat ion (2006). Social studies grade 5: Integrated resource package. Victor ia, B C : Prov ince of British Co lumbia . Norris, S . P. (1990). Thinking about critical thinking: Ph i losophers can't go it a lone. In J . E. M c P e c k (Ed.), Teaching critical thinking (pp. 67-74J. New York: Rout ledge. 113 Palys , T. (2003). Research decisions: Quantitative and qualitative perspectives (third edition). Scarborough, O N : Thompson /Ne lson . Pau l , R. (1993). Critical thinking: What every person needs to survive in a rapidly changing world (third edition). Santa R o s a , C A : Foundat ion for Crit ical Thinking. Pau l , R. (2005). The state of critical thinking today. New directions for community colleges, 130(summer), 27-38. Sea rs , A . & Parsons , J . (1997). Pr incip les of an ethic of critical thinking. In R. C a s e & P. Clark (Eds.) , The Canadian anthology of social studies: Issues and strategies for teachers {pp. 171-177). Burnaby, B C : Field Relat ions and Teacher In-service Educat ion, Faculty of Educat ion, S imon Fraser University. The Crit ical Thinking Consor t ium, onl ine catalogue. http:// tc2.ca/pdf/Forms/cataloq 11 -06.pdf. Retr ieved September 2007. 114 Appendix A: Letter of Introduction - - U B C letterhead-- The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking [Date] [School] Dear teachers: I am writing to ask i f you would consider participating in my Master's degree study on the changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking. M y teaching career consists of 20 years of experience in four Christian schools. During the past two decades I have been challenged to grow professionally in my view of the aims of education in general and, more specifically, in the discerning of curriculum materials and methods that maximize students' learning with short-term and long-term goals in mind. I describe myself as a lifelong learner and an educator who is passionate about the congruence of my beliefs and practice as a teacher of students and as a colleague among professionals. The purpose of my master's degree research is to study the nature of the changes that occur in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking and their corresponding changes in classroom practice. M y main research question is: How do elementary teachers' conceptions of critical thinking change while teaching a new unit that exemplifies a new critical thinking pedagogy? I am contacting you because [your] school values critical thinking, as demonstrated in your school vision statement. There are two levels of participation that I am offering. Y o u may volunteer to take part in this study by attending the professional development session, choosing your curriculum unit and implementing it during the given time period, attending four focus group sessions, and completing two brief questionnaires. A n y anecdotal comments in oral or written form wi l l be gratefully received throughout the duration of the research project. At the second level, I am seeking teachers who, in addition to the activities just mentioned, would volunteer to participate in three interviews. The interviews wi l l be tape recorded by me for purposes of analysis. If you agree to participate in this study, the teaching of a six week critical thinking Social Studies unit w i l l begin during the week of Monday, September 18, 2006 and conclude no later than Friday, November 3, 2006. Curriculum guides wi l l be provided and the orientation session wi l l occur at an appropriate time prior to the study. Three focus group sessions wi l l take place at the beginning, middle, and end of the project, approximately two weeks apart. The group members wi l l be involved in establishing a convenient time and location. The teachers involved in the three interviews (beginning, middle, and end) wi l l be able to arrange an appointment time and place at their convenience. The focus group discussions and the interviews wi l l be semi-structured and guided by your experiences as a teacher working through a new curriculum unit based on a critical 115 Appendix B : Consent Letter - - U B C letterhead-- The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking [Date] [School] Dear teacher: Thank you for your interest in my Master's thesis research project on critical thinking. This letter wi l l explain the purpose of my research, how I w i l l conduct it, and how I w i l l ensure that I represent you and your ideas correctly. A t the end of this letter is a consent form which I need you to sign. I chose [this school] for this study because the school recognizes the value of critical thinking in its Vis ion Statement. In addition, I am inviting the elementary teachers to participate in this study because you have not used the Critical Challenges curriculum materials prior to this study. M y main research question is: How do elementary teachers' conceptions of critical thinking change while teaching a new unit that exemplifies a new critical thinking pedagogy? Sub questions that w i l l help me nuance this are: 1. What are teachers' conceptions of teaching critical thinking prior to using the new curriculum materials in their classroom? 2. What are teachers' reactions to the new materials while using them in their classroom? 3. What are teachers' conceptions of teaching critical thinking after they have used the new curriculum materials for six weeks in their classroom? Aspects of teachers' conceptions of teaching critical thinking that are of interest in this study include the following: the purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered in, and conditions requisite for teaching critical thinking to elementary school students; The professional development component to this study wi l l include the distribution of new Critical Thinking curriculum materials and an orientation workshop. The lessons w i l l be taught between the dates of Sept. 18, 2006 and Nov. 3, 2006. The choice of units and lessons, as well as the classroom timetable regarding the critical thinking instruction, is left to your professional discretion. To conduct my research I w i l l be collecting information from you in a variety of ways: 2 questionnaires, 4 focus group meetings for all participants (not tape-recorded), and 3 tape-recorded interviews (optional). Therefore, I am requesting your permission to use your questionnaire responses, the anecdotal notes taken during the focus group meetings, and the audio taped interviews for the purpose of analysis. Please be aware that I cannot guarantee confidentiality in the focus group setting. The following sentences describe how I am able to ensure your identity is kept confidential. I 117 Appendix C: Questionnaire #1 and #2 - U B C letterhead- The change in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking QUESTIONNAIRE #1 Name: Date: 1. What are your purposes for teaching critical thinking? 2. What do you regard as the benefits of teaching critical thinking? 3. What, i f any, are the problems you have encountered while teaching critical thinking in your classroom? 4. What do you consider as conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking? 119 5. Are there any other concerns you have or comments you wish to make about teaching critical thinking or using the Critical Challenges materials? 120 - U B C letterhead-- The change in teachers' conceptions of cri t ical th inking Q U E S T I O N N A I R E #2 Name: Date: 1. What are your purposes for teaching critical thinking? 2. What do you regard as the benefits of teaching critical thinking? 3. What, i f any, are the problems you have encountered while teaching critical thinking in your classroom? 4. What do you consider as conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking? 121 5. Are there any other concerns you have or comments you wish to make about teaching critical thinking or using the Critical Challenges materials? 122 Appendix D : Letter Accompanying Questionnaires — U B C letterhead- The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking [Date] [School] Dear [Name]: Thank you for choosing to participate in my Master's thesis research project on critical thinking. This letter w i l l explain how your identity, and the information you provide on this questionnaire wi l l be kept confidential. For my research project, I am exploring the ways in which teachers' conceptions of teaching critical thinking change while implementing new curriculum materials that exemplify critical thinking pedagogy. Because you have volunteered to teach a series of Critical Challenges lessons with your students, I am asking you to provide me with some information by way of two questionnaires. The first questionnaire w i l l provide me with your ideas prior to the teaching of the unit. The second questionnaire w i l l be taken after the critical thinking unit is completed. Because I am interested in the ways that your conceptions of critical thinking may change during the six weeks that you are implementing the new curriculum materials, I anticipate that your responses on the questionnaires w i l l be useful in my analysis. The questionnaire should take about 15 minutes to complete. I want to explain how I w i l l make sure your identity is kept confidential. I w i l l keep your completed questionnaires in a locked filing cabinet in my office. Computer files w i l l be password protected. The only other individual with access to this questionnaire w i l l be my research supervisor, Dr. Walter Werner. Your name and the name of the school w i l l not be used in my thesis. Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you may omit any questions on the questionnaire or withdraw from the study at any time without jeopardizing yourself or the research. If you have any concerns about this study, please feel free to contact me, or my research supervisor Dr. Walter Werner. If you have any concerns about your treatment or rights as a research subject, you may contact the Research Subject Information Line in the U B C Office of Research Services at 604-822-8498. B y completing and submitting this enclosed questionnaire, it is assumed that you have given me your consent to use the information for my research purposes. So thank you once again for deciding to become part of my research work and for making the time to complete this questionnaire. 123 Appendix E: Interview Questions The change in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking QUESTIONS TO GUIDE THE INTERVIEWS 1. What are your purposes for teaching critical thinking? 2 What do you regard as the benefits of teaching critical thinking? 3 What, i f any, are the problems you have encountered while teaching critical thinking in your classroom? 4 What do you consider as conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking? 5 In what ways does your context [the name of school] interact with your conceptions of teaching critical thinking? 6 Are there any other concerns you have or comments you wish to make about teaching critical thinking or using the Critical Challenges materials? 125 Appendix F: Letter Accompanying Focus Group/Interview Sessions - U B C letterhead- The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking [Date] [School] Dear [Name]: Thank you for choosing to participate in my Master's thesis research project on critical thinking. This letter wi l l explain how your identity, and the information you provide during focus group meetings and interviews wi l l be kept confidential. For my research project, I am exploring the ways in which teachers' conceptions of teaching critical thinking change while implementing new curriculum materials that exemplify critical thinking pedagogy. Because you have volunteered to teach a series of Critical Challenges lessons with your students, I am asking you to provide me with some information regarding your experiences by way of four focus group meetings and three interviews. The group meetings and interviews wi l l take place at your school and wi l l occur at the beginning, middle, and end of the six-week time period in which you w i l l be using the critical thinking curriculum materials in your classroom. (Exact dates and times of the meetings and interviews wi l l be arranged at your convenience.) The four focus group meetings wi l l be one hour each for a total of 4 hours, and the optional three audio taped interviews w i l l be 45 minutes in length for an additional 2 V* hours. Your critical thinking instructions period wi l l begin during the week of Monday, Sept. 18, 2006 and end no later than Friday, Nov. 3, 2006. The fourth focus group meeting is designed to follow up on any long term changes in your conceptions of critical thinking, and therefore it w i l l take place in early March 2007. I want to explain how I w i l l make sure your identity is kept confidential. I w i l l take anecdotal notes during our focus group meetings. I request that you regard the information shared at the focus group meetings as confidential and respect the privacy of the other participants. After each audio-taped interview, I w i l l transcribe all the tapes myself and w i l l keep them, as well as all anecdotal notes from the focus group meetings, in a locked filing cabinet. Computer files w i l l be password protected. Your name and the name of the school w i l l not be used in my thesis. Y o u wi l l be given the option of a pseudonym. Y o u wi l l have the opportunity to read the transcripts of your interviews and the sections of my thesis that refer to you so that you can make sure I do not misrepresent you. (This task may take about 2 hours of your time.) The only other individual with access to the meeting notes or interviews w i l l be my research supervisor, Dr. Walter Werner. Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you may decline to make a comment during the meetings or interviews, or withdraw from the study at any time without jeopardizing yourself or the research. 126 Appendix G : Survey --TJBC letterhead- The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking To insure your privacy, any information you provide in the following two questions will be kept confidential (hard copies in a locked filing cabinet and transcriptions password protected). Any comments cited in my research thesis will appear without your name or the name of the school in order to eliminate all identifiable data thereby preserving your privacy. Please print. Name Grade you teach 1. What is critical thinking? 2. In what ways have you incorporated critical thinking into your lessons this past year (2005-06)? Please indicate consent to release your responses to the two questions above with your signature. Thank you. 128 Appendix H Follow-up Interview Questions The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking Teacher's Background Name: Date: Pseudonym: This is your year teaching. Past schools? Where? # of years? Years at study school? Any other noteworthy career history information: (grade changes/leave for raising kids) On a resume, you would describe yourself as a teacher. Describe your teaching style: Relationship to Change Professionally speaking, you are to change. (closed and resistant, hesitant or reluctant about, usually open, very open, enthusiastically embrace and seek out) Classroom Context for 2006 - 2007 Grade: # of students: boys: girls: Distinctive characteristics of classroom/students: • tone/climate • academic mix of strong/weak • social mix—behavior, personality • inclusion of special needs students Critical Thinking since December 2006: A n y indicators of subsequent change or sustainability of previously stated changes in conception or practice of critical thinking Any more TC2 curriculum materials used in terms 2 or 3? Any changes in your pedagogy? Esp. child-centred approach as opposed to teacher- directed ct activities. Regarding your awareness of ct: On a scale of 0 - 5, how often would you say that your think about and incorporate critical thinking? 0 never 129 2 3 4 5 rarely; once a month about once a week a few days a week every day multiple times a day; in different subject areas Using the same scale, how often would you say that you think about and incorporate Christian perspective? Regarding the school's vision statement, do you think that there is a relationship between critical thinking and Christian perspective? Explain. Reflecting back, as a teacher who participated in this study with a heightened awareness of critical thinking, have you noticed any personal changes? For example: "I used to think/feel/behave like this, but now I . . . " A n y changes made last fall that have been sustained? Cognitive understandings (intellectual insights? Re-reading the Critical Challenges materials?) Attitude changes/emotional reactions (despair, optimism, intensification of values/beliefs) New behaviours in your teaching practice (beyond pedagogy—group work, lesson planning, evaluation of students) 130 Appendix I: Focus Group Questions The changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking September 28, 2006 Talk about your first impressions. The Intellectual Tools: what comments do you have regarding the opening pages of the resource book? Assessment: Have you looked at the assessment rubrics? Have you tried to assess what you are seeing in the students' critical thinking as they participate in the learning activities? November 14, 2006: What's hard about teaching critical thinking for students? (i.e., the "learning" of critical thinking as they see it for their students.) What's hard about teaching critical thinking for teachers? (i.e., their experiences in implementation) 131


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