UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking Loewen, Evelyn 2007

Your browser doesn't seem to have a PDF viewer, please download the PDF to view this item.

Item Metadata

Download

Media
831-ubc_2007-0486.pdf [ 5.1MB ]
Metadata
JSON: 831-1.0055269.json
JSON-LD: 831-1.0055269-ld.json
RDF/XML (Pretty): 831-1.0055269-rdf.xml
RDF/JSON: 831-1.0055269-rdf.json
Turtle: 831-1.0055269-turtle.txt
N-Triples: 831-1.0055269-rdf-ntriples.txt
Original Record: 831-1.0055269-source.json
Full Text
831-1.0055269-fulltext.txt
Citation
831-1.0055269.ris

Full Text

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 T h i s study investigated the c h a n g e s in t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking a s they implemented a n e w curriculum resource that w a s b a s e d on a critical thinking a p p r o a c h . It d e s c r i b e d the t e a c h e r s ' ideas about the p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, p r o b l e m s e n c o u n t e r e d while, a n d conditions requisite to t e a c h i n g critical thinking. It a l s o took into a c c o u n t the c h a n g e s in t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking within the unique context of a faith-based independent s c h o o l . T h e s c h o o l w a s located in a large metropolitan district in British C o l u m b i a .  T h r e e intermediate t e a c h e r s (grades five a n d six) in o n e elementary s c h o o l w e r e interviewed at the beginning, middle a n d e n d of the implementation period to gather their perceptions about teaching critical thinking while using the new materials. T h e interview transcripts were a n a l y z e d for indicators of c h a n g e for e a c h t e a c h e r ' s conception of teaching critical thinking, a n d then a n a l y z e d for similarities a n d differences between the t e a c h e r s ' reported e x p e r i e n c e s .  It w a s found that the first y e a r teacher, w h o w a s very k n o w l e d g e a b l e about the n e w resource through her university training, e x p e r i e n c e d c h a n g e by w a y of disappointment from unmet expectations a n d struggled to implement the critical thinking p e d a g o g y a n d curriculum content d u e to various complexities a s s o c i a t e d with being a beginning teacher. A n o t h e r t e a c h e r with a d o z e n y e a r s of c l a s s r o o m e x p e r i e n c e enthusiastically implemented the new unit a n d w a s highly f o c u s e d on the execution of the l e s s o n s . S h e , however, did not invest time in  11  reviewing the introductory information w h e r e the critical thinking conception a n d p e d a g o g i c a l a p p r o a c h were e x p l a i n e d . C o n s e q u e n t l y , her conception of critical thinking and p e d a g o g y did not c h a n g e significantly. T h e third participant had twenty-six y e a r s of e x p e r i e n c e in the study s c h o o l a n d p o s s e s s e d a b a s i c understanding of critical thinking. S h e w a s hesitant to be involved in implementing a n e w curriculum r e s o u r c e b e c a u s e s h e anticipated being stretched professionally. Ultimately, s h e e x p e r i e n c e d ongoing c h a n g e s in her conception of critical thinking that affected various a s p e c t s of her work a s a c l a s s r o o m teacher. All three participants indicated the value of teaching critical thinking in t a n d e m with the faith perspective that is integrated into all a s p e c t s of the curriculum at this particular independent s c h o o l .  in  TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT  ii  TABLE OF CONTENTS  iv  C H A P T E R O N E : Purpose  1  C H A P T E R T W O : R e v i e w of the Literature  5  F a c t o r s Affecting Implementation  5  T h e Critical Thinking C o n c e p t i o n  8  CHAPTER THREE:  Research Design  15  M e t h o d o l o g i c a l Orientation  15  S e l e c t i o n of the S c h o o l S e l e c t i o n of the Participants R o l e of the R e s e a r c h e r Data Collection Data A n a l y s i s Limitations  16 19 20 21 23 24  C H A P T E R FOUR: The Cases  25  Mrs. Smith T e a c h e r profile a n d c l a s s r o o m context P u r p o s e s for t e a c h i n g critical thinking Benefits of teaching critical thinking P r o b l e m s e n c o u n t e r e d while teaching critical thinking C o n d i t i o n s requite to teaching critical thinking Critical thinking within the s c h o o l context Summary  26 27 29 32 34 36 38 40  Mrs. B l a c k T e a c h e r profile a n d c l a s s r o o m context P u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking Benefits of teaching critical thinking P r o b l e m s e n c o u n t e r e d while t e a c h i n g critical thinking C o n d i t i o n s requite to teaching critical thinking Critical thinking within the s c h o o l context Summary  40 42 44 47 49 54 56 57  Mrs. J a y T e a c h e r profile a n d c l a s s r o o m context P u r p o s e s for t e a c h i n g critical thinking  58 59 62  iv  Benefits of teaching critical thinking P r o b l e m s e n c o u n t e r e d while teaching critical thinking C o n d i t i o n s requite to teaching critical thinking Critical thinking within the s c h o o l context Summary C H A P T E R F I V E : A n a l y s i s of the C a s e s Mrs. Smith Mrs. B l a c k Mrs. J a y Conclusion C H A P T E R SIX: S u m m a r y a n d D i s c u s s i o n  66 68 71 73 76 77 77 83 90 98 103  Summary  103  Discussion  105  REFERENCES  112  APPENDICES A p p e n d i x A : Letter of Introduction A p p e n d i x B: C o n s e n t Letter A p p e n d i x C : Q u e s t i o n n a i r e #1 a n d #2 A p p e n d i x D: Letter A c c o m p a n y i n g Q u e s t i o n n a i r e s A p p e n d i x E: Interview Q u e s t i o n s A p p e n d i x F: Letter A c c o m p a n y i n g F o c u s Group/Interview S e s s i o n s . . . . Appendix G : Survey A p p e n d i x H: Follow-up Interview Q u e s t i o n s A p p e n d i x I: F o c u s G r o u p Q u e s t i o n s A p p e n d i x J : B R E B Certificate of A p p r o v a l . :  115 117 119 123 125 126 128 129 131 132  CHAPTER ONE Purpose T e a c h e r s naturally h a v e a n interest in how their students think, a n d most of them s e e k to u s e effective strategies that support improvement in their pupils' cognitive p r o c e s s e s . Critical thinking is a term that is familiar to educators—familiar e n o u g h that they w o u l d b e a b l e to readily supply a description of what it is, a n d offer e x a m p l e s of the w a y s that they e m p l o y it in their c l a s s r o o m s . H o w e v e r , a c l o s e r examination of those definitions would reveal that there is in fact a c o n s i d e r a b l e range of t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of what critical thinking is that m a y include, for e x a m p l e , descriptions of creative thinking or problem-solving skills. A n d from this range of descriptions of critical thinking flows a n e v e n greater diversity of c l a s s r o o m applications representing e a c h individual t e a c h e r ' s conception of critical thinking. Of interest to this qualitative c a s e study w a s the unfolding of three t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s about critical thinking a s they b e g a n to work with a n e w curriculum r e s o u r c e that exemplified a conception and methodology of teaching critical thinking that w a s different from their currently held definitions and c l a s s r o o m practices.  T h e p u r p o s e of this study w a s to e x a m i n e the w a y s in w h i c h t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking c h a n g e d a s they u s e d Critical  Challenges,  materials published by T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m ( C a s e & Misfeldt, 2 0 0 2 ; C a s e , 2004). T h e question and s u b - q u e s t i o n s w e r e a s follows:  1  H o w do elementary t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of teaching critical thinking c h a n g e while teaching a unit that exemplifies a n e w critical thinking p e d a g o g y ? •  W h a t are t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of teaching critical thinking prior to using n e w critical thinking materials in their c l a s s r o o m s ?  •  W h a t are the t e a c h e r s ' reactions to the n e w materials while using t h e m in their c l a s s r o o m s ?  •  W h a t are t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of teaching critical thinking after having u s e d the n e w materials for six to eight w e e k s in their c l a s s r o o m s ?  •  In what w a y s d o e s the learning community context (a faith-based independent school) interact with the t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of teaching critical thinking?  A s p e c t s of t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of t e a c h i n g critical thinking that w e r e of interest in this study included the following: the p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, problems e n c o u n t e r e d while, a n d conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking to elementary s c h o o l students.  T h e primary r e a s o n why I did this study s t e m s from my d e e p interest in  learning.  I believe that t e a c h e r s w h o fully e n g a g e in professional learning are more motivated to e n h a n c e the quality of the learning e x p e r i e n c e s they provide for their students. Regrettably, t e a c h e r s s o m e t i m e s resist making c h a n g e s in their p e d a g o g y , often d u e to a d e c i s i o n that the c o s t s of time a n d effort overrule the potential benefits. S o m e t i m e s , it t a k e s a "conversion e x p e r i e n c e " in the w a y a t e a c h e r c o n c e p t u a l i z e s a n a s p e c t of his/her teaching in order to venture out with  2  something new. T h e c o n u n d r u m that interests m e is the dialectic w a y in which a new teaching practice m a y n u d g e a new w a y of thinking, or the w a y in which a new conception of teaching m a y prompt new p e d a g o g y .  In the twenty-first century, t e a c h e r s , educational leaders a n d parents a g r e e that critical thinking is vital to t e a c h our s t u d e n t s — e v e n during the primary y e a r s . A n d yet, the m i s c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking a b o u n d a n d what gets credited by t e a c h e r s a s a "critical thinking l e s s o n " are often incidental or accidental learning events in the c l a s s r o o m , or p e r h a p s a "thinking e x e r c i s e " d o n e in isolation. Will teaching critical thinking l e s s o n s using a new a p p r o a c h reboot a n d re-route a t e a c h e r ' s c o n c e p t i o n s a n d p e d a g o g y ? T h i s question is worth pursuing.  T h e findings of this study will be beneficial to r e s e a r c h e r s interested in understanding the p r o c e s s of c h a n g e a s t e a c h e r s encounter new critical thinking curriculum. A s i d e from s o m e a n e c d o t a l f e e d b a c k from public s c h o o l districts a n d t e a c h e r s , there is a lack of r e s e a r c h on the Critical Challenges  curriculum  materials; this study will be of interest to T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m . T h e selection of a faith-based independent s c h o o l a s the site for this r e s e a r c h is also relevant. T h e philosophical context of the s c h o o l — t h e s c h o o l publicly states that its m i s s i o n is to e d u c a t e students from a biblical worldview p e r s p e c t i v e — p r o v i d e s insight into the w a y s t e a c h e r s reflect on their teaching practices with regard to their personal a n d c o m m u n a l beliefs about education (in this c a s e , from a n e v a n g e l i c a l Christian perspective.) Finally, for the benefit of the n u m e r o u s  3  independent s c h o o l s in British C o l u m b i a , and faith-based s c h o o l s a c r o s s North A m e r i c a , this study contributes to the lack of r e s e a r c h d o n e in t h e s e distinctive learning communities.  4  CHAPTER TWO Review of the Literature T h i s chapter sets a context in light of two current literatures relevant to the r e s e a r c h question. First, s e l e c t e d literature on t e a c h e r c h a n g e with a specific f o c u s on factors affecting implementation of an innovation is p r e s e n t e d . S e c o n d l y , the conception of critical thinking e s p o u s e d by T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m (TC2) is s u m m a r i z e d .  Factors Affecting Implementation A n innovation refers to s o m e t h i n g "new" related to a potential user. T h i s m a y include, for e x a m p l e , a n e w curriculum policy, instructional strategy or teaching materials. F o r the past fifty y e a r s , r e s e a r c h e r s have s e a r c h e d for factors that explain w h y t e a c h e r s u s e innovations in the w a y s in which they do. Although t h e s e lists of factors are varied, authors have u s e d them to build theories of implementation ( E v a n s , 1996). O n e of the best known and most influential theorists is M i c h a e l Fullan from the University of Toronto.  Fullan (2007) defines implementation a s the user's p r o c e s s of developing m e a n i n g for an innovation around what it is, why it is important, h o w it differs from current practice, what it implies for the user, etc. T h e initial m e a n i n g s that t e a c h e r s give to curriculum materials will affect the nature a n d extent of further implementation. "The crux of c h a n g e involves the d e v e l o p m e n t of m e a n i n g in  5  relation to a n e w i d e a . . . . M e a n i n g has both cognitive (knowledge) a n d affective (moral) d i m e n s i o n s . Both must be cultivated a n d c o n n e c t e d " (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , p. 104).  Fullan's theory of implementation identifies nine factors a s s o c i a t e d with the d e v e l o p m e n t of m e a n i n g ; four f o c u s on the innovation, a n d five relate to the context in w h i c h the innovation is u s e d . T h e first four are defined from the point of view of a user: perceived n e e d , perceived clarity, perceived complexity, a n d perceived practicality (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , pp. 87-92). Of the five factors related to context, four local factors pertain to the social conditions in which the c h a n g e s occur, namely the actions a n d attitudes of the teacher, administrator, s c h o o l community, a n d district. T h e role of the g o v e r n m e n t is a n external factor. " T h e more factors supporting implementation, the more c h a n g e in practice will be a c c o m p l i s h e d " (2007, p. 86).  B e c a u s e my study f o c u s e s on t e a c h e r s ' perceptions of a n e w conception of critical thinking a s carried by curriculum materials, Fullan's first four factors provide a n important framework for interpreting the t e a c h e r s ' reactions to implementation. T h e r e are s e v e r a l considerations to be mindful of w h e n looking at a user's perceived n e e d for an innovation. W h o s e n e e d is it? W h e t h e r a n innovation is mandatory or voluntary h a s implications for its desirability. T h e priority or "degree" to which a n innovation is n e e d e d over a n d against other perceived n e e d s a l s o affects the implementation p r o c e s s . Further, o n e must be  6  a w a r e that the perceived n e e d m a y c h a n g e over time, either increasing or diminishing its relevance a s the c o s t s a n d benefits of the innovation unfold during its u s e . T h e felt n e e d is in constant interaction with the evolving perceptions of clarity, complexity, a n d practicality of the innovation. In particular, n e e d is d e p e n d e n t on the d e g r e e of clarity o n e h a s about the innovation itself.  Clarity is a constant problem in the c h a n g e p r o c e s s . T e a c h e r s m a y or m a y not be clear about what is to be c h a n g e d — h o w the materials a n d m e t h o d s are different a n d s u p p o s e d l y a n improvement to what is currently in place. A s the innovation is implemented, things m a y b e c o m e more clear or unclear. L a c k of clarity c a n surface around the materials t h e m s e l v e s , the teaching m e t h o d s required a n d the g o a l s a n d p u r p o s e s for them. W h e n a p r o p o s e d c h a n g e is interpreted in a n oversimplified w a y , there is "false clarity" a n d the user will be u n a w a r e that there is substantially more to the innovation than is realized. A s problematic a s clarity is to a c h i e v e , both conceptually a n d procedurally, it is e s s e n t i a l to "work on it" if c h a n g e is to o c c u r in the intended direction.  C o m p l e x i t y refers to the nature of the c h a n g e p r o c e s s — t h e difficulties e n c o u n t e r e d a n d the extent to which things are different.  "The actual amount  d e p e n d s on the starting point for any individual or group, but the main idea is that any c h a n g e c a n be e x a m i n e d with regard to difficulty, skill required, a n d extent in alteration of beliefs, teaching strategies, a n d u s e of materials" (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , p. 90). T h e amount of complexity e x p e r i e n c e d is affected by how m u c h c h a n g e is  7  being attempted; Fullan reports that although c o m p l e x reforms hold more promise for c h a n g e than simpler innovations, they require considerably more f o c u s a n d energy during implementation (2007, p. 91).  T h e fourth factor affecting implementation is perceived practicality: t e a c h e r s must feel that the innovation is feasible. It n e e d s to be s e e n a s appropriate a n d carry the potential for improved student learning ( E v a n s , 1996, p. 85). T h e t e m p o a n d p r e s s u r e s of daily life in the c l a s s r o o m affect t e a c h e r s ' receptivity to a n innovation; if it is not perceived a s d o a b l e , c h a n g e is unlikely. T o be feasible, the p r o p o s e d c h a n g e must a d d r e s s t e a c h e r s ' perceived n e e d s , be f o c u s e d a n d clear a n d s e e m m a n a g e a b l e in s c o p e and complexity.  T h e major m e a n s for developing m e a n i n g in the direction of the four factors include collegial talk while t e a c h e r s are attempting to put a n innovation into practice. T h r o u g h this combination of "planning" a n d "doing," the factors of p e r c e i v e d n e e d , clarity, complexity, a n d practicality c a n be a d d r e s s e d : N e w m e a n i n g s , new behaviors, new skills, a n d new beliefs d e p e n d significantly on whether t e a c h e r s are working a s isolated individuals or are e x c h a n g i n g ideas, support, a n d positive feelings about their work. T h e quality of working relationships a m o n g t e a c h e r s is strongly related to implementation. Collegiality, o p e n c o m m u n i c a t i o n , trust, support a n d help, learning on the job, getting results, a n d job satisfaction a n d morale are closely interrelated. (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , p. 97)  8  The Critical Thinking Conception Critical thinking has received a significant amount of attention by t e a c h e r s a n d principals, curriculum specialists, t e a c h e r educators, a n d s c h o o l reform a d v o c a t e s for d e c a d e s . T h e r e is little controversy over the v a l u e of teaching critical thinking a s a g o a l a n d m e a n s for student learning. But a s C a s e a n d Wright point out, "There is a rather d e p r e s s i n g irony: thinking critically is m u c h v a l u e d a n d yet inadequately a d d r e s s e d in the c l a s s r o o m " ( C a s e and Wright, 1997, p. 179). Part of the r e a s o n lies in the perennial q u e s t i o n s — " w h a t is it?" a n d "how d o w e t e a c h it?"—voiced by practitioners and s c h o l a r s alike.  In the quest for determining what critical thinking m e a n s , the field of s o c i a l studies has hosted its s h a r e of quarrels. S e a r s a n d P a r s o n s (1997) briefly outline two e x a m p l e s : "content v e r s u s p r o c e s s " d e b a t e s reflect t e a c h e r uncertainties b e t w e e n "covering the content" a n d teaching students "how to" a d d r e s s i s s u e s a n d value questions, a n d "strategy v e r s u s ethic" d e b a t e s a s s u m e that critical thinking is either a "series of s t e p s or p l a n n e d e x e r c i s e s " or a "way of living in a n d a d d r e s s i n g the world" (pp. 171-173). U n l e s s t e a c h e r s are "extremely committed to critical thinking," the o u t c o m e of t h e s e d e b a t e s and uncertainties is likely a path of least resistance: c o v e r the curriculum content a n d inject s o m e isolated "higher order thinking" t e c h n i q u e s in their methodology ( S e a r s a n d P a r s o n s , 1997). But adhering to a n ethic of critical thinking d e m a n d s the adoption of a conception of critical thinking that c a n b e c o m e part of o n e ' s philosophy of life.  9  Critical thinking a s a n ethic implies s e v e r a l fundamental principles that cannot be learned, but must be e x p e r i e n c e d . It is incumbent on t e a c h e r s at all levels to e m b o d y a n ethic of critical thinking in their own teaching if they seriously expect to prepare thoughtful, independent-minded citizens (p. 177).  T h e r e are five foundational principles d e v e l o p e d by S e a r s a n d P a r s o n s (1997) which support the ethic: 1. K n o w l e d g e is not fixed, but a l w a y s subject to re-examination and change. 2. T h e r e is no question which cannot, or should not be a s k e d . 3. A w a r e n e s s of, a n d e m p a t h y for, alternate worldviews is essential. 4. T h e r e is n e e d of tolerance for ambiguity. 5. T h e r e is a n e e d for a skeptical attitude towards text.  T h e y c o n c l u d e that: "Only t h o s e e d u c a t o r s committed in this w a y to a s o c i a l studies program that supports critical thinking will p e r s e v e r e in the f a c e of the c o n s i d e r a b l e o b s t a c l e s " to implementation (p. 173).  Essentially, the ethic of critical thinking involves two things: a set of beliefs and a p e r s o n a l commitment to them ( S e a r s a n d P a r s o n , 1997; C a s e and Wright, 1997; P a u l , 1993). T h i s represents ownership of a c o n c e p t i o n . M a n y authors have articulated competing conceptualizations of critical thinking, particularly s i n c e the 1 9 7 0 s (e.g., M c P e c k , 1990; Norris, 1990; P a u l , 1 9 9 3 ; L i p m a n , 1988). T h e y all a g r e e , however, that promoting critical thinking involves m u c h more than s o m e teaching t e c h n i q u e s . It represents a broader c o n c e p t i o n . R i c h a r d P a u l rightly a s s e r t s that until a substantive conception of critical thinking is imparted to t e a c h e r s , things will not c h a n g e .  10  F e w faculty r e c o g n i z e what it t a k e s to transform instruction s o that students routinely u s e their thinking to take ownership of c o u r s e content. F e w faculty k n o w or u s e learning strategies that e n a b l e students to think analytically through content. F e w understand critical thinking a s a set of tools for acquiring k n o w l e d g e . F e w understand what it m e a n s to t e a c h content a s thinking (2005, p. 36). T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m materials, however, do take up this c h a l l e n g e . T h e y begin with a c o m p l e x conception of what critical thinking is, what it is not, a n d how it is to be taught (Bailin, C a s e , C o o m b s , & D a n i e l s , 1 9 9 9 a ; Bailin et al., 1999b). A foundational d o c u m e n t d e v e l o p e d for the Ministry of E d u c a t i o n in British C o l u m b i a , A Conception and Assessment  of Critical  Thinking  for Curriculum,  Instruction  (Bailin et al., 1993), w a s written to m a k e "the teaching of critical  thinking clear and m a n a g e a b l e " for t e a c h e r s a n d curriculum d e v e l o p e r s (Darling a n d Wright, 2 0 0 4 , p. 249). A c o n c i s e definition w a s a l s o offered: "Critical thinking involves thinking through problematic situations about what to believe or how to act w h e r e the thinker m a k e s r e a s o n e d judgments that e m b o d y the qualities of a competent thinker" ( C a s e a n d D a n i e l s , 2003). C l a s s r o o m implementation of this definition entails four t a s k s for the teacher: 1. "Build a community  of thinkers within the s c h o o l a n d c l a s s r o o m . "  Nurturing a c l a s s r o o m w h e r e reflective inquiry is v a l u e d is c o n s i d e r e d the m o s t influential factor in supporting the d e v e l o p m e n t of students' critical thinking. A commitment to ongoing opportunities a l o n g s i d e self- a n d peerevaluation a n d t e a c h e r modeling are n e c e s s a r y . 2. "Infuse opportunities for critical thinking—what w e call critical  challenges—  throughout the curriculum." T h e r e are four criteria that determine what  11  constitutes a critical c h a l l e n g e : the question or task must require a r e a s o n a b l e judgment b a s e d on the a s s e s s m e n t of options; it must be meaningful or relevant to the students; it must incorporate the curriculum content in a substantial w a y ; a n d , it must provide support for students a s they utilize the intellectual tools in working through the c h a l l e n g e . 3. " D e v e l o p the intellectual  tools that will e n a b l e students to b e c o m e  competent critical thinkers." T h e five major tools are defined a s follows: Background knowledge—the for thoughtful reflection;  information about the topic required  Criteria for judgment—the consideration or grounds for deciding w h i c h of the alternatives is the most s e n s i b l e or appropriate; Critical thinking vocabulary—the range of c o n c e p t s and distinctions that are helpful w h e n thinking critically; Thinking strategies—the repertoire of heuristics, organizing d e v i c e s , m o d e l s a n d algorithms that m a y be useful w h e n thinking through a critical thinking problem; Habits of mind—the v a l u e s a n d attitudes of a careful a n d c o n s c i e n t i o u s thinker. T h e y include: o p e n - m i n d e d , fair-minded, i n d e p e n d e n t - m i n d e d , a n d inquiring or "critical" attitude. 4. " O n a continuing b a s i s assess students'  competence  in using the  intellectual tools to think through critical c h a l l e n g e s . " Students will c o m e to understand the importance of critical thinking if a f o c u s on "how well" they exhibit the qualities of a competent thinker is s u s t a i n e d . ( C a s e , 2 0 0 4 , pp. viii- xi).  T o help t e a c h e r s understand t h e s e t a s k s , the C o n s o r t i u m p r o d u c e d curriculum materials that exemplify the p e d a g o g y of critical thinking within various subject  12  a r e a s and grade levels. T h e two salient features of the materials are their e m b e d d i n g critical thinking within curriculum content, a n d their explicit f o c u s on teaching students appropriate "tools" for thinking through problems. F o r e x a m p l e , the introductory section of t h e s e e x e m p l a r s state that: Critical Challenges Across the Curriculum is a n ongoing s e r i e s of t e a c h e r r e s o u r c e s f o c u s e d on infusing critical thinking into every s c h o o l subject. T w o features distinguish this s e r i e s from m a n y other publications supporting critical thinking—our content embedded a p p r o a c h and our e m p h a s i s on teaching the intellectual tools. O u r a p p r o a c h is to e m b e d critical thinking by presenting f o c u s e d questions to c h a l l e n g e s that invite critical student reflection about the content of the curriculum. W e do not s e e critical thinking a s a g e n e r i c set of skills or p r o c e s s e s that c a n be d e v e l o p e d independent of content a n d context. Nor do w e believe that critical thinking c a n adequately be a d d r e s s e d a s an a d d - o n to the curriculum. Rather, critical thinking is profitably v i e w e d a s a w a y of teaching the content of the curriculum. T e a c h e r s c a n help students understand the subject matter, a s o p p o s e d to merely recall it, by providing continuing opportunities for thoughtful a n a l y s i s of i s s u e s that are central to the curriculum. T h e s e c o n d distinguishing feature of this s e r i e s is its e m p h a s i s on systematically teaching a full range of tools for critical thinking. M u c h of the frustration that t e a c h e r s e x p e r i e n c e w h e n inviting students to think critically s t e m s from students' lack of the relevant intellectual tools. N o doubt s o m e students will figure things out for t h e m s e l v e s , but m o s t of the rest will perform at higher levels if they have the requisite tools for the job. F o r this r e a s o n , every critical c h a l l e n g e is a c c o m p a n i e d with a list of the tools n e e d e d to respond competently, a n d c o n s i d e r a b l e attention is paid in the s u g g e s t e d activities to detailing h o w t h e s e tools m a y be taught a n d a s s e s s e d ( C a s e a n d Misfeldt, 2 0 0 2 , p. iv; C a s e , 2 0 0 4 , p. iv).  In short, the Critical Challenges  Across  the Curriculum  materials are intended to  m a k e "critical thinking ' a w a y of life in the c l a s s r o o m ' " ( E v a n s a n d H u n d e y , 2 0 0 4 , p. 226). T o this e n d , there h a s b e e n a project to have r e s o u r c e s d e v e l o p e d by  13  t e a c h e r s and delivered to c l a s s r o o m s in s e v e r a l provinces during the last d e c a d e . (There are 22 Critical Challenges  available according to the online  catalogue; http://tc2.ca/pdf/Forms/cataloq11-06.pdf. retrieved S e p t e m b e r 2007). T o date there is no published r e s e a r c h examining the implementation of t h e s e r e s o u r c e s . This study is a m o n g the first to explore the transmission of a c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking through t h e s e materials.  14  CHAPTER THREE Research Design T h i s chapter d e s c r i b e s the study's r e s e a r c h d e s i g n including methodological orientation, selection of the s c h o o l , selection of the participants, role of the researcher, data collection, data a n a l y s i s , a n d limitations.  Methodological Orientation T h i s study w a s orientated within an interpretive paradigm that did not attempt to predict or control the o u t c o m e , but rather, allowed for m e a n i n g to be constructed by the participants in the natural s c h o o l setting a s the study p r o c e e d e d . T h e ontological a s s u m p t i o n of this paradigm w a s that "reality is subjective a n d multiple" ( C r e s s w e l l , 1998, p. 75), thereby implying that the r e s e a r c h data would consist of participants' quotes that exemplify their understanding of critical thinking.  I c h o s e to conduct this r e s e a r c h a s a collective instrumental c a s e study ( C r e s s w e l l , 1998, p.62). It w a s collective in that it f o c u s e d on three t e a c h e r s (or c a s e s ) within the s a m e s c h o o l context for their p e r s o n a l p e r s p e c t i v e s on teaching critical thinking. It w a s a n instrumental c a s e study b e c a u s e it f o c u s e d on the "object" being studied, namely the p r o c e s s of c h a n g i n g c o n c e p t i o n s . In the tradition of c a s e studies, this r e s e a r c h w a s b o u n d e d by a core time frame (eight w e e k s ) in which the critical thinking l e s s o n s w e r e being taught, but with the  15  exception of o n e follow-up interview at the e n d of the s c h o o l y e a r to ascertain if the findings still held true. B e c a u s e of the dominant u s e of interviews, this investigation had strong overtones of a p h e n o m e n o l o g i c a l study; i n d e e d , this r e s e a r c h sought to "get inside p e o p l e ' s h e a d s " (Palys, 2 0 0 3 , p. 433) to understand c h a n g e a s it w a s actually e x p e r i e n c e d a n d not how c h a n g e might have b e e n intended (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , p. 8). T h e p u r p o s e w a s descriptive a s o p p o s e d to explanatory.  Selection of the School T h e criterion u s e d in selecting an elementary s c h o o l w a s unfamiliarity with the Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m ' s conception of critical thinking. T h e likelihood that participating t e a c h e r s had never heard of this particular a p p r o a c h to teaching critical thinking or had not s e e n the Critical Challenges  materials i n c r e a s e d w h e n  an entire s c h o o l community w a s unaware of it. S i n c e the consortium had b e e n network-building in public s c h o o l s a c r o s s the province for s e v e r a l y e a r s , a s e a r c h a m o n g independent s c h o o l s found s e v e r a l potential sites that fit the criterion. Administrators of t h e s e sites w e r e contacted to determine the feasibility of this project. S i n c e the study would be using materials from Critical Across  the Curriculum  Challenges  s e r i e s a s its "new" teaching materials, I n e e d e d to know if  the t e a c h e r s had u s e d any of t h e s e materials. Additionally, I n e e d e d to know whether the t e a c h e r s ' existing c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking w e r e "different" from the practices that are promoted in the materials.  16  T h e study s c h o o l w a s favoured over others b e c a u s e of the v a l u e it p l a c e d on teaching critical thinking a s published in their vision statement. T h e fact that it w a s a faith-based s c h o o l w a s circumstantial a n d not a criterion for selection; it s u b s c r i b e d to a protestant e v a n g e l i c a l Christian worldview. E v e r y effort in selecting the s c h o o l w a s f o c u s e d on the contextual conditions that rendered the innovation a s "new" a s p o s s i b l e .  T h e administrators permitted m e to briefly introduce my p r o p o s a l a n d conduct a survey during a staff meeting in J u n e 2 0 0 6 (Appendix G ) . T h e survey a s k e d t e a c h e r s the following two q u e s t i o n s : •  W h a t is critical thinking?  •  In what w a y s have you incorporated critical thinking into your l e s s o n s this past y e a r ?  T h e written r e s p o n s e s (n=27) to these two questions confirmed the wide range of definitions and c l a s s r o o m practices held by the t e a c h e r s , a n d that the s c h o o l would be a suitable c h o i c e for my r e s e a r c h . T h e administrators w e r e very supportive of this study a n d v o i c e d a k e e n interest in the findings.  T o understand the local context of this study, a description of the s c h o o l begins with the s c h o o l ' s vision statement which is published a s follows: "[Our] s c h o o l nurtures students in Christ-like living, critical thinking a n d joyful s e r v i c e , to b e c o m e effective m e m b e r s of the Christian community in G o d ' s world" ( e m p h a s i s a d d e d ) . A l t h o u g h no p r e c i s e date of w h e n this statement w a s adopted by the  17  s c h o o l community could be attained, the best estimate w a s 1 9 9 2 - 1 9 9 3 . S i n c e that time, the s c h o o l had offered little professional d e v e l o p m e n t around the teaching of critical thinking.  T h e principal, w h o w a s not at the s c h o o l w h e n the vision statement w a s p e n n e d , stated that it w a s c o m m u n a l l y d e v e l o p e d by staff, parents a n d board m e m b e r s . T h e statement w a s a l s o featured in his a d d r e s s to the students in their s c h o o l handbook; he felt it "served a s a reference point" a n d desired it to be "a constant reminder a s to our p u r p o s e . " T h e 2 0 0 6 - 2 0 0 7 "devotional t h e m e " s e l e c t e d by the staff w a s b a s e d o n the B i b l e v e r s e , " C h o o s e for y o u r s e l v e s this d a y w h o m y o u will s e r v e " ( J o s h u a 24:15). H e pointed out that b e c a u s e this t h e m e highlighted the notion of c h o i c e , it d e m o n s t r a t e d the integration of all three a s p e c t s of the vision statement, including the necessity of critical thinking. T h e w e e k l y c h a p e l a s s e m b l i e s w e r e student-led a n d all the h o m e r o o m c l a s s e s took turns developing this t h e m e in their presentations.  T h e s c h o o l is located in a large metropolitan district in British C o l u m b i a , C a n a d a , a n d has b e e n in e x i s t e n c e for forty-five y e a r s . A t the time of this study, it offered education p r o g r a m s from p r e s c h o o l through to g r a d e twelve; on the elementary c a m p u s there w e r e 550 students enrolled from p r e s c h o o l to grade s e v e n , representing various ethnic b a c k g r o u n d s a n d s p e c i a l n e e d s . T h e teaching staff in the elementary s c h o o l n u m b e r e d thirty-nine; a n additional sixteen s p e c i a l e d u c a t i o n a s s i s t a n t s plus twenty-seven other support workers brought the total to  18  sixty-six. T h e s c h o o l had a friendly a t m o s p h e r e a n d it w a s evident in the staff lounge that mutual respect a n d appreciation existed between "all the t e a m players." T h e administrators appreciated the professionalism of their t e a c h e r s , a n d d e s c r i b e d t h e m s e l v e s a s a " c l o s e " community w h e r e parents demonstrated their dedication to the s c h o o l in their willingness to help. T h e s c h o o l hallways w e r e m a r k e d by positive interactions between students a n d adults; "it's not n e c e s s a r y to patrol," quipped the principal.  T h e entrance to the s c h o o l featured a display of a s c h o o l in A f r i c a . A recent longer-term project undertaken by their staff a n d families had resulted in the construction of a brand n e w s c h o o l in Z a m b i a ; the principal had just returned from "cutting the ribbon." T h i s e x a m p l e is o n e of m a n y which indicate that the s c h o o l ' s "life-style policy" is actively in effect: it supports the vision statement by advocating student participation in projects that reflect local a n d global citizenship. T h e policy views critical thinking a s a n integral part of the p r o c e s s b e c a u s e seriously exploring the real i s s u e s in their world will foster students' s e n s e of "Christian responsibility" a n d motivation to s e r v e . In their city, this s c h o o l h a s a reputation for "making a difference" b e c a u s e its environmental conservation projects w e r e reported in the local n e w s p a p e r .  Selection of the Participants B e c a u s e the study required volunteers to implement Critical  Challenges  materials in the s o c i a l studies series, they n e e d e d to be teaching s o c i a l studies  19  to students in g r a d e s one to s e v e n . A s mentioned earlier, the resource a l s o n e e d e d to be "new" to the participants. In J u n e , a letter of introduction outlining the p u r p o s e of the r e s e a r c h w a s sent to the s c h o o l for distribution to all the t e a c h e r s (Appendix A ) , followed by a c o n s e n t letter/form (Appendix B) that provided expectations regarding data collection.  Opportunity w a s given to greet t e a c h e r s and explain the r e s e a r c h proposal at a staff meeting in J u n e , 2 0 0 6 . T h e administrators then promoted this project by promising c l a s s r o o m r e l e a s e time for the interviews a n d explaining that the piloting of t h e s e critical thinking materials would fulfill t e a c h e r s ' annual p r o f e s s i o n a l d e v e l o p m e n t requirements. T h e potential participants w e r e informed about the curriculum topics available but not given opportunity to p e r u s e the Critical Challenges  before giving consent. T h e y c h o s e their teaching  materials later o n . Of the four t e a c h e r s w h o volunteered, three were able to participate.  Role of the Researcher In keeping with a n inductive a p p r o a c h , I viewed my role a s a n active learner, attempting to understand a n d "tell the story" from the participants' perspective. I m a d e every effort to represent the participants' r e s p o n s e s with a c c u r a c y a n d respect. It w a s incumbent on m e to e x e r c i s e reflexivity, that is, to be sufficiently mindful of my o w n beliefs a n d b i a s e s s o that I c o u l d e x e c u t e this study with integrity ( G l e s n e , 2 0 0 6 , p. 6).  20  A s p e c t s of my b a c k g r o u n d that helped l e s s e n the distance between myself a s r e s e a r c h e r a n d the participants included the following: •  I w a s a n elementary s c h o o l t e a c h e r for two d e c a d e s in s e v e r a l faith-based independent s c h o o l s a n d therefore w a s e q u i p p e d to understand the v a l u e s , perspectives, l a n g u a g e , a n d practices in this distinct learning community.  •  ! had not taught the Critical Challenges  l e s s o n s before, a n d therefore did  not hold preconceptions about how materials should be integrated a n d used. •  D u e to my work a s a curriculum d e v e l o p e r in the past six y e a r s , I h a d a collegial relationship with a few t e a c h e r s in the s c h o o l ; however, I had no former a s s o c i a t i o n with the three participants.  During the interviews a n d f o c u s group s e s s i o n s , any explanations or clarifications g i v e n to the participants regarding the c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking w e r e minimal a n d d o n e with caution s i n c e the purpose of the study w a s to investigate the impact that the stand-alone materials w e r e having on their understandings a n d teaching practice. G u i d i n g a n d supporting their thinking about the materials o c c u r r e d through probing questions a n d rephrasing their c o m m e n t s .  Data Collection T h e following list outlines the data s o u r c e s I u s e d to conduct my investigation:  21  1. A written survey consisting of two questions w e r e a s k e d of all the t e a c h e r s in the study s c h o o l in J u n e , 2 0 0 6 (Appendix G ) . Its p u r p o s e w a s to gather data about t e a c h e r s ' definitions a n d practices of critical thinking to determine if the materials to b e implemented would b e new. 2. T w o identical questionnaires were administered, o n e prior to teaching the unit (September) a n d then after completion ( D e c e m b e r ) ( A p p e n d i c e s C a n d D). T h e data w e r e transcribed a n d incorporated into the c a s e s u m m a r i e s . T h e nine interviews ( a c r o s s three participants at the beginning, middle a n d e n d of the implementation period) w e r e a n c h o r e d by the s a m e five q u e s t i o n s thus ensuring d a t a collection c o n s i s t e n c y while looking for the indicators of c h a n g e in the t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking over time. T h e p u r p o s e w a s to gather d a t a about e a c h t e a c h e r ' s c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking in written form. 3.  T h r e e semi-structured audio-taped interviews with e a c h of the volunteers occurred during the beginning ( S e p t e m b e r or October), middle (October or N o v e m b e r ) a n d e n d ( N o v e m b e r or D e c e m b e r ) of the t e a c h i n g unit ( A p p e n d i c e s E a n d F). E a c h 45-minute interview w a s transcribed, s u m m a r i z e d , a n d given to the participant for a p p r o v a l . T h e p u r p o s e w a s to collect data about e a c h teacher's conception of critical thinking through dialogue with the researcher.  4. T w o f o c u s group meetings w e r e held ( S e p t e m b e r a n d N o v e m b e r ) in order to facilitate collegial d i s c u s s i o n a m o n g the participants (Appendix I). T h e semi-structured d i s c u s s i o n s w e r e audio-taped, transcribed, s u m m a r i z e d ,  22  a n d m a d e available to e a c h participant for approval. Their p u r p o s e w a s to gather further data about the participants' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking. 5. A follow-up interview (May, 2007) w a s a u d i o - t a p e d , s u m m a r i z e d and m a d e available to e a c h participant. It w a s a l s o semi-structured but did not repeat the s a m e questions a s k e d in the earlier interviews (Appendix H). T h e p u r p o s e s w e r e to attain t e a c h e r profile information, gather d a t a that would verify the information that had b e e n collected during the previous three interviews a n d collect any n e w d a t a about e a c h t e a c h e r ' s c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking.  Data Analysis T h e p r o c e s s of individual or "within c a s e " a n a l y s e s of the three participants (chapter four) went a s follows: 1. T h e survey w a s u s e d to establish e a c h t e a c h e r ' s definition a n d practice of teaching critical thinking prior to the study. 2. T h e two identical questionnaires (pre a n d post) w e r e qualitatively a n a l y z e d for indications of c h a n g e in regards to t e a c h e r s ' reported p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, problems e n c o u n t e r e d while, a n d conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking. 3. E a c h audio-taped interview w a s transcribed a n d then a n a l y z e d for indicators of c h a n g e in the s a m e m a n n e r a s the pre a n d post questionnaires. T h e data a l s o included t e a c h e r s ' i d e a s about teaching critical thinking within the context of the s c h o o l ' s philosophy of education.  23  4. A n e c d o t a l notes taken during the two f o c u s meetings w e r e a l s o a n a l y z e d for indicators of c h a n g e . 5. Following "within c a s e " a n a l y s e s of the three participants, a c r o s s - c a s e a n a l y s i s w a s d o n e for similarities a n d differences a m o n g the c a s e s (chapter five). Criteria for c o m p a r i n g the extent of c h a n g e were: perceived n e e d , clarity, complexity, a n d practicality (Fullan, 2007).  Limitations T h i s study f o c u s e d only on initial implementation, that is, the very early s t a g e of understanding a n d using a n innovation. F o r all three participants this investigation reported only on their "first time" u s e of the materials. G i v e n the short length, an eight w e e k teaching time frame, the study did not look for indicators of sustainability which would be appropriately c o n s i d e r e d had I monitored c h a n g e s over multiple attempts of using the materials.  Ideally, the t e a c h e r s would have implemented the unit simultaneously a n d therefore u n d e r g o n e the beginning, middle a n d e n d p h a s e s of the unit's instruction side by side. In reality the start dates were s t a g g e r e d by about three w e e k s . T h e frustrated first y e a r t e a c h e r felt isolated b e c a u s e the e x p e r i e n c e d t e a c h e r s w e r e not yet implementing the program, a n d this limited timely conversation a m o n g the t e a c h e r s .  24  CHAPTER FOUR The Cases T h i s chapter gives s e p a r a t e a c c o u n t s of how three t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking c h a n g e d during the three months while they u s e d the Challenges  Critical  s o c i a l studies curriculum r e s o u r c e s in their c l a s s r o o m s . T h e c a s e s  are s e q u e n c e d from the t e a c h e r with the least to the o n e with the most y e a r s of teaching e x p e r i e n c e , namely M r s . Smith (first year), M r s . B l a c k (twelve years), a n d finally M r s . J a y (twenty-eight years). P r o v i d e d in the t e a c h e r profiles are descriptions of e a c h t e a c h e r ' s b a c k g r o u n d a n d their perceptions of their relationship to c h a n g e , followed by a s u m m a r y of the c l a s s r o o m contexts in which they w e r e implementing the new critical thinking unit. Next are the individual t e a c h e r ' s definition of critical thinking a n d s o m e e x a m p l e s of learning activities that exemplify incorporation of critical thinking into the c l a s s r o o m prior to this study. T h i s is followed by descriptions of the interview c o m m e n t s relevant to the p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, p r o b l e m s e n c o u n t e r e d while, a n d conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking. Attention is then given to e a c h t e a c h e r ' s v i e w s of critical thinking within the context of the study s c h o o l . Following t h e s e descriptions is a brief s u m m a r y of the indicators of c h a n g e .  Interview quotes are referenced to indicate w h e n they o c c u r r e d . F o r e x a m p l e , ( 2 0 ) refers to the s e c o n d interview held in the month of October, and (3N) refers to the third interview, which occurred in N o v e m b e r . Q u o t e s taken from a f o c u s group s e s s i o n a p p e a r in the following manner: ( F G 1 S ) references f o c u s group  25  s e s s i o n n u m b e r o n e w h i c h occurred in S e p t e m b e r . U n l e s s otherwise referenced, all quotes cited within the introductory p a r a g r a p h s (re: t e a c h e r b a c k g r o u n d , relationship to c h a n g e a n d c l a s s r o o m context) w e r e recorded in May 2007.  Mrs. Smith T h i s s u m m a r y d o c u m e n t s the e x p e r i e n c e s of Mrs. S m i t h , a grade five t e a c h e r w h o implemented the Critical Challenges  curriculum materials for the first time  while negotiating the complexities of being a first y e a r teacher. Unlike the other two t e a c h e r s in this study, M r s . S m i t h ' s familiarity with Critical  Challenges  through her university training afforded her a solid theoretical understanding of the critical thinking a p p r o a c h a n d a n e n t h u s i a s m for teaching the Managing Natural Wealth unit. H e r excitement about Critical Challenges  our  w a s evident in a  staff meeting in S e p t e m b e r w h e n s h e e n d o r s e d the critical thinking curriculum a n d w a s thereby instrumental in e n c o u r a g i n g the other two c o l l e a g u e s to participate in this study. A l t h o u g h s h e r e m a i n e d positive about Challenges,  Critical  her e x p e r i e n c e with the s o c i a l studies unit b e c a m e laborious, e r o d e d  her e n t h u s i a s m a n d resulted in disappointment.  Interviews w e r e s c h e d u l e d a s follows: 1. S e p t e m b e r 28, 2 0 0 6  (1S)  2. O c t o b e r 18, 2 0 0 6  (20)  3. N o v e m b e r 14, 2 0 0 6  (3N)  26  4. M a y 28, 2 0 0 7  (4M)  Focus Group sessions: 1. S e p t e m b e r 28, 2 0 0 6  (FG1S)  2. N o v e m b e r 14, 2 0 0 6  (FG2N)  Teacher profile and classroom context Mrs. S m i t h is a first y e a r t e a c h e r launching her c a r e e r in the study s c h o o l . H e r previous teaching e x p e r i e n c e is limited to practicums while in the professional training y e a r at the local university. Significant is the fact that s h e is a graduate of the study s c h o o l ; after a n interlude at university to a c h i e v e her teaching credentials s h e w a s warmly w e l c o m e d back into the s c h o o l community a s a colleague.  Thinking back on her recent practicum reports, s h e d e s c r i b e d herself a s a n o r g a n i z e d , fun a n d nurturing teacher. W h e n a s k e d about her teaching style, s h e replied, "organized but flexible; I like to try n e w things but obviously everything is n e w right now." S h e stated that her t e n d e n c y to be structured a n d organized e q u a t e d to a more traditional style but hastened to add that s h e prefers a b a l a n c e between s o m e traditional a n d s o m e less traditional a p p r o a c h e s . It totally d e p e n d s on my e n e r g y level. Like at the beginning of the y e a r I tried to d o a s m a n y of the different and on-the-edge a n d h a n d s - o n stuff a s I could. A n d then there are times w h e n my e n e r g y is low a n d the kids are a bit crazier a n d then I return to the traditional a p p r o a c h — m o r e of a (I don't want to s a y note-taking), but more w o r k s h e e t s , b e c a u s e I n e e d to bring [the students a n d the lessons] back on track. (4M)  27  Mrs. Smith r e c o g n i z e d that her teaching style is highly experimental b e c a u s e it w a s her first y e a r of t e a c h i n g .  A l t h o u g h s h e w a s not able to c o m m e n t about the nature a n d range of c h a n g e s that h a v e h a p p e n e d in the short s p a n of her career, there are s o m e relevant p i e c e s of information regarding her perceived relationship to c h a n g e . "I a m very o p e n to c h a n g e , just b e c a u s e everything is all s o new! I know that I'll be c h a n g i n g things that h a p p e n e d this y e a r that I didn't like a n d I'll be c h a n g i n g them for next year." W h e n thinking back on her first y e a r of teaching, s h e c o m m e n t e d that s h e w a s unsatisfied: "I a m never going to be fully satisfied. I want to k e e p c h a n g i n g a n d m a k i n g things better constantly. I'm using the w o r d 'unsatisfied' in a positive way. I don't want to settle for being mediocre." Not unlike m a n y beginning t e a c h e r s , s h e felt that s h e w a s enthusiastically e m b r a c i n g a n d s e e k i n g out c h a n g e . "I already h a v e three units in mind that I a m going to try to m a k e better. T h a t ' s my s u m m e r homework. A n d this past y e a r there w e r e s o m e units that I took [from colleagues] that I will replace with something e l s e b e c a u s e I didn't like the w a y it w a s d o n e . " T h e implementation of n e w curriculum is a built-in expectation for this t e a c h e r young in her career. "Highly experimental" aptly d e s c r i b e d her first y e a r of t e a c h i n g .  Mrs. Smith t e a c h e s in a self-contained building (portable) adjacent to the e l e m e n t a r y s c h o o l with twenty-six g r a d e five students—twelve b o y s a n d fourteen girls—in her c h a r g e .  28  T h e students all get along very well s o it's really a community in the c l a s s r o o m . T h e r e aren't any cliques that stick out, e v e n though there are a couple of kids that have b e e n best friends like forever. But I c a n put any kid a n y w h e r e a n d k n o w that they'll be able to talk to s o m e o n e . S o m e t i m e s I have to m o v e them s o that they won't talk to p e o p l e . . . . It's great that they're all friends a n d that they're comfortable in the room. E v e n girls a n d b o y s , there's no problem between them. It's quite cool.  A c a d e m i c a l l y s p e a k i n g , s h e reported that about five students are s e v e r e l y struggling in a certain area—failing a subject a r e a . At the other e n d of the s p e c t r u m there are three noteworthy students; according to Mrs. Smith, one is definitely exceptional a n d two could be s u c c e s s f u l in g r a d e six. "Then there's a real mix in the middle too." But M r s . Smith, with her organizational abilities, is able to u s e the a c a d e m i c abilities a n d the positive s o c i a l d y n a m i c in her c l a s s towards achieving her learning objectives. T h e students are g o o d , get-along working partners; collaborative learning through group work is fine. It naturally h a p p e n s that kids go off task too, being friends a n d all. I'm very careful with group work. I m a k e the groups. I don't normally let them c h o o s e . F o r bigger projects, I pick. I like to put my stronger students m i x e d together with those w h o are struggling. A n d there's a l w a y s o n e in the group w h o is the leader w h o will get e v e r y o n e to task. T h e y ' r e pretty g o o d about getting back to task.  Purposes for teaching critical thinking At the outset of this study, M r s . Smith submitted the following definition: "Critical thinking is the thinking through of a problem (using various tools s u c h a s b a c k g r o u n d k n o w l e d g e a n d o p e n - m i n d e d n e s s ) in order to s e e k / r e a c h a judgment about what should be d o n e . " (Sept. 20, 2006) W h e n a s k e d to give e x a m p l e s of  29  w a y s that s h e had incorporated critical thinking into l e s s o n s during the past y e a r (2005-2006), s h e cited two curriculum r e s o u r c e s that w e r e part of her t e a c h e r education program at university: Critical  Challenges  a n d A Case of Red  (to improve skills), (survey, Sept. 20, 2006) T h e Critical  Challenges  Herrings  books were  closely e x a m i n e d during a Curriculum a n d M e t h o d o l o g y c o u r s e ; s h e c o m p l e t e d a n a s s i g n m e n t which involved developing her own l e s s o n that utilized the critical thinking a p p r o a c h a n d l e s s o n d e s i g n of the published materials u s e d in this study. B e c a u s e M r s . S m i t h did not h a v e the opportunity to t e a c h a Challenges  Critical  s o c i a l studies unit in her student teaching e x p e r i e n c e s , s h e w a s  motivated to begin during the first w e e k of s c h o o l using the resource book s h e had p u r c h a s e d . In her practicum, s h e taught A Case of Red Herrings,  a s e r i e s of  learning activities d e s i g n e d to improve students' inferential a n d deductive reasoning.  In r e s p o n s e to the question, "What are your p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking?", M r s . Smith provided the following s e n t e n c e : "I don't feel like I received e n o u g h instruction in critical thinking w h e n I w a s in s c h o o l . " (Questionnaire 1)  M r s . S m i t h ' s conviction that critical thinking is a valuable "life skill" w a s b a s e d upon her p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e s over the past d e c a d e . Having b e e n a student at the study s c h o o l , s h e believed that critical thinking w a s lacking in her education despite the fact that the existing vision statement w a s introduced w h e n s h e entered high s c h o o l . "I w a s a l w a y s taught to believe what I w a s being taught.  30  Not to question. Not to a n a l y z e — e v e n in elementary; just believe it is true. T h e n I went to university—this is w h e n I w a s c h a l l e n g e d a n d I realized I n e e d e d critical thinking." (1S) S t e m m i n g from a belief that critical thinking is n e c e s s a r y for life, s h e stated: "I like that Critical Challenges  puts the o n u s on the kids to do the  critical thinking work... providing students with the opportunity to formulate their o w n thoughts a n d opinions." (1S) In e a c h interview s h e offered c o m m e n t s about t e a c h i n g critical thinking that pointed directly toward her p u r p o s e s for t e a c h i n g the actual Critical Challenges  l e s s o n s — a n indication of her heavy reliance on the  curriculum r e s o u r c e a s the conduit of the critical thinking.  In O c t o b e r , s h e believed that students n e e d e d to "know what they s t o o d for" a n d that the critical c h a l l e n g e s w e r e leading to a culmination in which students would m a k e independent c h o i c e s regarding their p e r s o n a l e c o l o g i c a l footprint. ( 2 0 ) W h e n a s k e d if s h e noticed any e v i d e n c e that her p u r p o s e for teaching critical thinking w a s being realized, s h e s p e c u l a t e d m o r e generally that students h a d a greater a w a r e n e s s of critical thinking than s h e did w h e n s h e w a s a student in the school.  But w h e n the unit w a s c o m p l e t e d in N o v e m b e r , a disappointed M r s . S m i t h m a d e the following c o m m e n t s : I still think that critical thinking is important; I know that I can't d o everything in a Critical Challenges style. I've learned that my teaching style a n d a p p r o a c h e s n e e d to be varied. S o m e of this cutting-edge stuff might m a k e m e lose my sanity. Right now, not every unit c a n be this intensive. I n e e d to have a b a l a n c e . . . . I will  31  d o this unit a g a i n b e c a u s e it is valuable a n d important for the kids. (3N) W h i l e the v a l u e of teaching critical thinking remained intact, the problems e n c o u n t e r e d had drained her s e n s e of p u r p o s e . T h e results didn't meet my expectations for how things w e r e going to go. I thought they would be able to do more. M a y b e it w a s too early in the y e a r ? O r they're not ready for this level of work yet? I thought it would be e a s i e r to get them to participate more and enjoy t h e m s e l v e s . Instead I got too m u c h of "It's too hard." T h e y did enjoy parts of it, but overall I thought that I w a s pulling. A n d b e c a u s e it w a s hard for the kids, it w a s hard for m e . It w a s e s p e c i a l l y hard for m e to want to d o it, my desire to t e a c h Critical Challenges l e s s o n s . (3N)  Her stated p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking on the s e c o n d questionnaire d e m o n s t r a t e d Mrs. Smith's ongoing commitment to the students a n d the s c h o o l : • •  it is something that I felt I lacked in my s c h o o l i n g s o I w a n t e d my students to have critical thinking skills it is a v a l u a b l e part of the m i s s i o n statement at the s c h o o l s o I w a n t e d to be sure to include it in my teaching  Benefits of teaching critical thinking " M y h o p e is that students will d e v e l o p their abilities to think through problems a n d discern right from w r o n g , rather than just a c c e p t everything they're told." (Questionnaire 1)  In the S e p t e m b e r interview s h e listed the following a s p e c t s of critical thinking a s beneficial for her students: intellectual growth d u e to thinking through a problem, d i s c e r n m e n t w h e n evaluating right from wrong, not accepting everything they are  32  told, d e e p e r thinking w h e n defending o n e ' s d e c i s i o n or position, a n d the ability to work collaboratively in a group while maintaining a n independent opinion. (1S) B y w a y of e x a m p l e , s h e reported that t h e s e a s p e c t s w e r e e m b e d d e d in the l e s s o n in which the students were required to determine which natural r e s o u r c e w a s the most important resource in the province.  W h e n a s k e d about benefits a few w e e k s later, s h e reported that s h e had "not s e e n anything new" (20)  a n d w a s hoping that the u p c o m i n g student  presentations would reveal s o m e of the benefits that s h e e x p e c t e d . S h e a l s o mentioned that s h e had not explained the "intellectual tools" part of the learning materials to her students a n d w o n d e r e d if doing s o w o u l d h a v e heightened the benefits. A s in her statements about the p u r p o s e s of critical thinking, M r s . S m i t h ' s c o m m e n t s about the benefits revealed her disappointment d u e to high expectations.  B y N o v e m b e r , her c o m m e n t s about the benefits related to the small group work. "It is excellent that they h a v e group work, e v e n if there are problems.... T h e kids like working with their peers." (3N) S h e went on to talk about the critical thinking tools a n d strategies u s e d in a learning activity a few w e e k s after the s o c i a l studies unit w a s c o m p l e t e d . S h e thought the students "did really w e l l " in this activity—which included justification of individual c h o i c e s — a n d this led her to believe that "the more c h a l l e n g e s they get, the more they improve. In this l e s s o n , the kids s e e m to c o n n e c t better to the problem" (as c o m p a r e d to the  33  l e s s o n s in the prior unit). (3N) T h i s positive e x p e r i e n c e a s s u r e d her that students w o u l d transfer critical thinking, a n d restored her c o n f i d e n c e in the c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking. I s e e benefits a s helping students learn to think for t h e m s e l v e s through a problem, rather than to h a v e s o m e o n e s o l v e it for them. K i d s s e e m to think that everything will be d o n e for them, but through Critical Challenges  I think they begin to realize that they  are more c a p a b l e than they think. Hopefully students will learn the p r o c e s s a n d s k i l l s — s u c h a s weighing options—that they c a n take out into the world for the rest of their lives. (Questionnaire 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 u n a c c u s t o m e d to doing critical thinking—this is tough for them!" (Questionnaire 1) In S e p t e m b e r s h e felt that students e x p e c t e d social studies to be m u c h e a s i e r (e.g., "colouring m a p s " ) ; consequently, they w e r e not "fired up" about the critical c h a l l e n g e s . " W e ' r e nearly finished the s e c o n d c h a l l e n g e a n d the kids are getting more comfortable with the critical thinking a p p r o a c h , though it's not getting e a s i e r for t h e m . . . . T h e y ' r e s h o w i n g a bit more interest in this s e c o n d c h a l l e n g e ; it's not s o m u c h of a "chore" for them." (1S) S h e a l s o pointed out that the two c h a l l e n g e s w e r e taught quite differently: the first h a d more "teacher talk" c o m p a r e d to the s e c o n d o n e that had the students "doing r e s e a r c h . "  34  In October, it w a s evident that the problems in teaching critical thinking w e r e escalating for both the students a n d the teacher. S h e d i s c o v e r e d that the students n e e d e d m u c h more support in r e s e a r c h gathering a n d recording skills than anticipated. A trip to the computer lab to gather data from the s u g g e s t e d on-line e n c y c l o p e d i a w a s not s u c c e s s f u l b e c a u s e the task w a s " a b o v e the abilities" of the students. A s s o m e of them struggled with the c o u r s e content, it negatively affected the s m a l l group d y n a m i c s a n d b o g g e d down their p r o g r e s s in getting through the t a s k s . C o n s e q u e n t l y , s h e w a s kept very b u s y adapting student r e s o u r c e s on the fly, giving m i n i - l e s s o n s on researching skills, assisting students in the c o m p r e h e n s i o n of the content materials, a n d c o a c h i n g small g r o u p s to work cooperatively. "I feel like I'm on a roller c o a s t e r s o m e t i m e s . " ( 2 0 ) A n o t h e r stress w a s the i s s u e of t i m e — s h e found that the completion of e a c h c h a l l e n g e w a s running into overtime and throwing off the desired p a c e .  After the unit w a s c o m p l e t e d , s h e c o n c l u d e d that it w a s not the difficulty of doing critical thinking that w a s most problematic for her students—they c a n do critical thinking if "it is p a c k a g e d in a w a y that is very applicable to their lives." (Questionnaire 2)  "It w a s s u c h a new a p p r o a c h — t h e y w e r e doing something s o  n e w to them a n d they w e r e not u s e d to it." (3N) S h e maintained her view that students like things that are e a s y . " T h e [intellectual] tool of b a c k g r o u n d k n o w l e d g e w a s the toughest for the kids, and therefore tough for the teacher." (3N) M r s . Smith candidly stated that they w e r e all tired a n d it w a s a relief for the c l a s s (teacher included) to be d o n e with the unit.  35  G r o u p work t a k e s time a n d energy; it t a k e s a lot of effort for m e to d e a l with all the g r o u p s a n d the kids with their h a n d s up. T h e group m e m b e r s c a n help e a c h o t h e r — u n l e s s all of them are s a y i n g , " W e don't know what to do." (3N)  A l t h o u g h six months later, her m e m o r y of the e x p e r i e n c e w a s "paperwork, paperwork, paperwork;" s h e intended to look back at the unit a n d figure out why it s u d d e n l y b e c a m e s o b u r d e n s o m e . (4M)  Conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking O n Q u e s t i o n n a i r e 1, M r s . Smith a c k n o w l e d g e d that the first requisite condition is "an understanding of what critical thinking is." In the S e p t e m b e r interview, s h e elaborated that it is helpful not just for the t e a c h e r but a l s o for the students to understand what is meant by critical thinking a n d r e c o g n i z e d that the term is u s e d c a r e l e s s l y or over-generalized to m e a n various kinds of thinking. S h e felt that students n e e d e d to know the p u r p o s e for their work a n d illustrated her point with a n e x a m p l e : " T o d a y our c h a l l e n g e is to figure out which is the most valuable r e s o u r c e in B C . W e will gather information with this goal in mind s o that w e c a n m a k e a g o o d d e c i s i o n . " (1S)  In addition to a c l e a r c o n c e p t i o n , M r s . S m i t h cited g o o d curriculum r e s o u r c e s . It would be hard for m e to teach critical thinking without t h e s e r e s o u r c e s ; it's m u c h e a s i e r o n c e you've had s o m e e x p o s u r e to Critical Challenges l e s s o n s which s h o w you step-by-step how to t e a c h a critical c h a l l e n g e . I had to m a k e a critical c h a l l e n g e in university a n d it w a s a c h a l l e n g e ! It's s o m u c h e a s i e r to o p e n the r e s o u r c e a n d deliver the l e s s o n !  36  D u e to problems with using learning r e s o u r c e s s u c h a s the on-line e n c y c l o p e d i a a n d the lack of r e c o m m e n d e d b o o k s in their s c h o o l library, M r s . Smith thought that reference materials that support the execution of the l e s s o n s were a l s o important. T h e problems s h e e n c o u n t e r e d with student materials prompted her to s u g g e s t that the t e a c h e r ' s ability to be flexible and adapt l e s s o n s a s n e e d e d w a s a l s o a condition that is requisite for s u c c e s s f u l critical thinking l e s s o n s .  In October, s h e reported that students n e e d e d a d e q u a t e literacy skills to negotiate the l e s s o n content. S h e referred to a critical c h a l l e n g e a s a "double w h a m m y " b e c a u s e students had to work hard on reading a n d writing skills while continuing to m a k e and justify their judgments. A s e c o n d condition s h e mentioned w a s group work; s h e felt that l e s s o n s went better w h e n there w a s a b a l a n c e between small group work a n d independent a s s i g n m e n t s . ( 2 0 )  A t the e n d of the unit, M r s . Smith determined that the next time a r o u n d , adjustments would be m a d e regarding the students' abilities to m a n a g e the information. S h e w a n t e d to e n s u r e that her students w o u l d be a c a d e m i c a l l y ready a n d c a p a b l e for the c h a l l e n g e s . (3N) H e r s e c o n d questionnaire offered further thoughts about the conditions requisite to critical thinking that h a d not s u r f a c e d during the interviews. M r s . Smith wrote: I think y o u n e e d to be a t e a c h e r w h o is willing to b e c h a l l e n g e d a n d to c h a l l e n g e the m i n d s of your students. If you're s o m e o n e w h o isn't willing to c h a l l e n g e yourself a n d your students, then critical thinking m a y not be something you are willing to dive into. Y o u n e e d g o o d curriculum a n d you n e e d c o l l e a g u e s to s h a r e with a n d support y o u . (Questionnaire 2)  37  Critical thinking within the s c h o o l context A s already d i s c u s s e d , Mrs. Smith w a s highly motivated to t e a c h critical thinking for a twofold r e a s o n : first, b e c a u s e it is her duty a s a t e a c h e r to fulfill this part of the s c h o o l ' s vision statement a n d s e c o n d l y , b e c a u s e s h e felt that this c o m p o n e n t w a s not taught during her y e a r s a s a student there. B e y o n d her s e n s e of obligation, s h e e x p r e s s e d her p e r s o n a l convictions about the v a l u e of critical thinking which indicated that s h e "buys into" the vision statement. "I want my students to think for t h e m s e l v e s a n d evaluate what they believe." (1S) S h e went on to d e s c r i b e the relevance of critical thinking in the "curriculum of daily life" referring to c l a s s r o o m or playground problems, a n d mentioned her intention to integrate critical thinking into other subject a r e a s during the c o m i n g year—"but I can't d o everything right away!" (1S)  B y O c t o b e r it w a s clear that s h e w a s making h e a d w a y in applying critical thinking e l s e w h e r e . F o r e x a m p l e , s h e had offered her students s e v e r a l higher level thinking opportunities in the following a r e a s : literature circles, mystery stories, inference skills, math problem solving, a n d s c i e n c e activities (non-renewable r e s o u r c e s unit). Although s h e did not c o n s i d e r all of these e x a m p l e s to be critical thinking (according to her definition), s h e specified that the problem solving a p p r o a c h which introduces the n e w chapters in the Math Makes curriculum w a s c l o s e to her conception. ( 2 0 )  38  Sense  C o n n e c t i o n s between the critical thinking a n d Christian perspective a s p e c t s of the s c h o o l ' s vision statement surfaced in the N o v e m b e r interview. S h e r e c o g n i z e d that the natural r e s o u r c e s topic lent itself to d i s c u s s i o n s about stewardship from both the critical thinking a n d the biblical worldview perspectives. T h e students d e c i d e d that they would select "creation c a r e " a s the subject for their c l a s s presentation at their u p c o m i n g c h a p e l (an all-school a s s e m b l y in which the c l a s s is responsible for the feature lesson). M o r e o v e r , they u s e d their presentation to c h a l l e n g e the entire student body with a project that would " m a k e a difference" in their s c h o o l . T h u s "Litter-less L u n c h D a y " w a s e s t a b l i s h e d for every T u e s d a y ; the aim w a s to c h a l l e n g e every student to bring a lunch that would u s e c o m p o s t i n g a n d recycling alternatives to the trash bin o n c e a w e e k . (3N) T h i s e x a m p l e of a student-initiated project d e m o n s t r a t e s the c o n v e r g e n c e of the two a s p e c t s of the s c h o o l ' s vision statement.  Not surprisingly, a c c o r d i n g to M r s . S m i t h , critical thinking a n d Christian perspective are not in conflict. 1 g u e s s my own e x p e r i e n c e is that w e have this biblical b a c k g r o u n d a n d Christian perspective, but at the s a m e time w e n e e d that moral b a c k b o n e to be evaluating our world at all times—thinking about what w e are allowing o u r s e l v e s to take part in or support. I think that w e n e e d both. I think that w h e n I went to s c h o o l , I w a s getting the Christian perspective but not n e c e s s a r i l y the tools to evaluate the world a s well—just being taught to a c c e p t that "this is the w a y that it is." S o one of my g o a l s for my students is that I don't tell the students just to a c c e p t it, but to take what they K N O W a n d to think about it.... I think that it's very important that students h a v e the Christian b a c k i n g . . . . T h e y can't have either—they have to h a v e both together. I don't want them only to have their critical thinking skills,  39  b e c a u s e , in my opinion, y o u n e e d to have your moral backing before y o u c a n appropriately a s s e s s a problem. W e l l , that's my belief. (4M)  Summary M r s . S m i t h exhibited a high s e n s e of n e e d for t e a c h i n g critical thinking a n d a n exceptional clarity about the Critical Challenges  c o n c e p t i o n . H e r lack of  procedural clarity a s indicated by the various problems s h e e n c o u n t e r e d during the implementation p r o c e s s e x p o s e d her d e l u s i o n s about t e a c h i n g critical thinking. T h e complexities of the innovation c o u p l e d with the c h a l l e n g e s a c c o m p a n y i n g a first y e a r t e a c h e r resulted in d i s c o u r a g e m e n t over unmet expectations. Despite her disappointment, s h e upheld a d e e p conviction in the need a n d v a l u e of critical thinking and did not w a v e r from her sophisticated c o n c e p t i o n of it. T h e fact that the e x p e r i e n c e w a s s o " b u r d e n s o m e " for her u n d e r s c o r e s the importance of supporting conditions during the implementation process.  Mrs. Black Mrs. B l a c k is an e x p e r i e n c e d t e a c h e r w h o h a s w o r k e d at incorporating critical thinking into v a r i o u s a r e a s of the g r a d e five curricula. S h e w e l c o m e d the opportunity to participate in this r e s e a r c h study b e c a u s e s h e enjoyed piloting n e w material a n d b e c a u s e s h e would be r e l e a s e d from generating her own critical thinking c o m p o n e n t to the natural r e s o u r c e s unit. In contrast to M r s . Smith, M r s . B l a c k w a s unfamiliar with the conception a n d p e d a g o g i c a l a p p r o a c h promoted in  40  Critical  Challenges  and admitted that in her l e s s o n preparations s h e had  s k i m m e d and s k i p p e d the introductory p a g e s of the teacher's m a n u a l . W h i l e allowing for s o m e minor adaptations, s h e thought s h e w a s s u c c e s s f u l l y able to implement the unit. S h e consistently u s e d references to specific learning activities and concrete e x a m p l e s to note any c h a n g e s in her teaching. W h i l e her c o m m e n t s during the s e r i e s of interviews a d d e d s o m e temporary contour to a s p e c t s of her conception of critical thinking, there w a s no significant c h a n g e in her established understanding of it.  Interviews w e r e s c h e d u l e d a s follows: 1. S e p t e m b e r 28, 2 0 0 6  (1S)  2. O c t o b e r 18, 2 0 0 6  (20)  3. N o v e m b e r 14, 2 0 0 6  (3N)  4. D e c e m b e r 12, 2 0 0 6  (4D)  5. M a y 2 8 , 2 0 0 7  (5M)  Mrs. Black had an additional interview. T h e interview on S e p t e m b e r 2 8 , 2 0 0 6 , d e s i g n e d to capture Mrs. B l a c k ' s first i m p r e s s i o n s of the Critical  Challenges  unit,  revealed that s h e had not yet taught the first l e s s o n but w a s b e c o m i n g familiar with the l e s s o n s . T h e interview in O c t o b e r d o c u m e n t s M r s . B l a c k ' s e x p e r i e n c e s teaching the new critical thinking materials. Focus Group sessions: 1. S e p t e m b e r 28, 2 0 0 6  (FG1S)  2. N o v e m b e r 14, 2 0 0 6  (FG2N)  41  Teacher profile and classroom context Mrs. B l a c k is in her twelfth y e a r of teaching and her third y e a r in the study s c h o o l . Her c a r e e r b e g a n with three y e a r s a s a teacher-on-call in s e v e r a l c o a s t a l districts in British C o l u m b i a w h e r e s h e a c c e p t e d temporary teaching a s s i g n m e n t s ranging from kindergarten to g r a d e twelve in both public a n d private s c h o o l s . After a three month position in an international s c h o o l in the Philippines, s h e taught for six y e a r s in a small faith-based independent s c h o o l not far from the study s c h o o l ' s location. Within the past nine y e a r s while e m p l o y e d in the independent s c h o o l s , M r s . B l a c k has taught g r a d e s five a n d six, a n d h a s d o n e specialist a s s i g n m e n t s in primary F r e n c h a n d intermediate s c i e n c e . S h e d e s c r i b e s herself a s an enthusiastic, creative teacher, a n d in terms of teaching style, c o n s i d e r s herself a s intuitive, flexible, a n d go-with-the-flow by nature. F o r e x a m p l e , "If I s e e that the kids are really learning, but their activity is moving us in a n e w direction (but that they're still really learning), I would rather g o their w a y than bring them back to the l e s s o n right away." B e c a u s e Mrs. B l a c k is sensitive to where her learners are, s h e finds it natural to involve the students in curriculum c h o i c e s , e v e n the impromptu l e s s o n s a s s h e just d e s c r i b e d .  M r s . B l a c k regards herself a s a t e a c h e r w h o enthusiastically e m b r a c e s c h a n g e a n d often s e e k s out new i d e a s . "Every y e a r I think back about what I want to c h a n g e a n d how I want to m a k e it better. M y curriculum units are never the s a m e two y e a r s in a row." A s a n e x a m p l e of s e e k i n g out c h a n g e , s h e related h o w s h e had b e e n interested in piloting a n e w F r e n c h curriculum in the study  42  s c h o o l . Not only did s h e attend a c o u r s e during the s u m m e r to prepare herself, s h e p e r s u a d e d another c o l l e a g u e to join her. Currently all the g r a d e s three, four a n d five c l a s s e s are using this n e w F r e n c h p r o g r a m , a n d s h e noted that the students found this new curriculum e n g a g i n g a n d enjoyable. M r s . B l a c k is motivated to take s o m e initiative in curriculum planning for s o m e t h i n g s h e believes in; not only is s h e willing to put in the time and effort to prepare s o m e t h i n g new, but s h e a l s o enlists partnership with c o l l e a g u e s . S h e feels rewarded w h e n s h e w i t n e s s e s the benefits for her students.  T h i s y e a r M r s . B l a c k has b e e n teaching a c l a s s of twenty-six g r a d e five students—fourteen girls a n d twelve b o y s . T h e c l a s s composition represents a broad range of a c a d e m i c abilities and s o c i a l behaviours. S h e reported that within the a c a d e m i c mix, s o m e students receive "general" learning a s s i s t a n c e , s o m e for specific subject a r e a s , o n e student has an Individualized E d u c a t i o n P l a n (IEP), a n d yet another group of students leave the c l a s s r o o m for enrichment activities.  S h e finds that s o m e students are very quiet a n d s o m e are very  talkative a n d "a bunch in the middle" or "normal." O v e r the y e a r s h e has c o u n s e l e d the students through "friend i s s u e s " d u e to their level of s o c i a l a n d emotional maturity.  M r s . B l a c k determines that things are better now a n d credits  the students for their growth in e m p a t h y for o n e another.  43  Purposes for teaching critical thinking Mrs. B l a c k defined critical thinking a s : "the ability to think through problems, to a n a l y z e all of the data, the pro's a n d c o n ' s and to c o m e up with the best solution. It is the ability to g o b e y o n d , to dig d e e p e r , a n d c o m e up with your own i d e a s instead of just taking other p e o p l e ' s ideas a s fact." (survey, J u n e 2006) W h e n a s k e d to d e s c r i b e w a y s that s h e had incorporated critical thinking into l e s s o n plans within the past year, s h e wrote the following list: •  T h e students have c o m e up with a "platform" to present to the c l a s s prior to voting for a c l a s s president.  •  T h r o u g h c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s w e h a v e delved d e e p into a problem. I have students c o m e up with solutions to problems, i.e., world hunger, where they have to g o beyond t h e m s e l v e s . Having students c o m e up with questions to ask a panel of immigrants (beyond the "basics"). Helping students think b e y o n d t h e m s e l v e s , i.e., the problems of others. In M a t h , problem solving through s e v e r a l steps.  • • •  Prior to, during a n d after teaching the new unit, Mrs. Black consistently a s s e r t e d that her first p u r p o s e for teaching critical thinking w a s that it w a s "an important lifelong skill." In S e p t e m b e r , s h e noted that students n e e d e d this skill in order to negotiate the p r o b l e m s a n d d e c i s i o n s of daily life a n d a d d e d that weighing the pro's a n d c o n ' s , considering both s i d e s a n d "working through the i s s u e s " w e r e all a s p e c t s of critical thinking. ( 1 S a n d Q u e s t i o n n a i r e 1) T h e s e c o m m e n t s align very closely to the definition of critical thinking that s h e provided on the survey quoted a b o v e . M r s . Black also o b s e r v e d that there are varying levels of c o m p e t e n c y in critical thinking abilities. "I think there are s o m e people w h o are very g o o d critical  44  thinkers but I don't think that it is natural in e v e r y b o d y . . . . Therefore you want critical thinking to be a skill kids get u s e d to." (1S)  S o m e c o m m e n t s need to be m a d e about the nature of M r s . B l a c k ' s October, N o v e m b e r and D e c e m b e r interviews which occurred while s h e w a s actually teaching the unit. It b e c a m e increasingly apparent in the c o u r s e of t h e s e interviews that s h e is a concrete thinker; frequently, r e s p o n s e s b e g a n with g e n e r o u s s u m m a r i e s of the l e s s o n plan or detailed descriptions of what the t e a c h e r or the students had d o n e . T h e direct a n s w e r s that I sought w e r e e m b e d d e d a s key w o r d s a n d p h r a s e s within her narratives of c l a s s r o o m e x p e r i e n c e s , a n d often the a n s w e r w a s the e x a m p l e itself. C o n s e q u e n t l y , a greater d e g r e e of inferential work by the r e s e a r c h e r b e c a m e n e c e s s a r y .  During the O c t o b e r interview, Mrs. Black w a s a s k e d if s h e had any new p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking now that s h e had begun to implement the our Natural Resources  Managing  l e s s o n s and had formulated s o m e first impressions. S h e  r e s p o n d e d that focusing the unit around a critical challenge question w a s a g o o d idea a n d that s h e w a s discovering how c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s "went beyond what the t e a c h e r m a n u a l predicted." T h e kids' i d e a s about s c h o o l r e s o u r c e s went "around the world" and they talked about Z a m b i a . M r s . Black then mentioned how the students w e r e m a k i n g c h o i c e s about "what they could live without" a s a result of a homework a s s i g n m e n t a s s e s s i n g the importance of r e s o u r c e s found in their h o u s e s . F r o m there s h e noted that s h e had w i t n e s s e d g o o d social skills in their  45  s m a l l groups e v e n w h e n kids w e r e not with their friends. "The students didn't a l w a y s a g r e e but they kept d i s c u s s i n g until they r e a c h e d a c o n s e n s u s . " T h e final point in the d i s c u s s i o n about new p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking w a s that s h e s a w that students w e r e "thinking b e y o n d t h e m s e l v e s . " ( 2 0 )  In s u m m a r y ,  M r s . B l a c k ' s g r a d e five students h a d b e e n involved in making c h o i c e s b a s e d on their investigations a n d d i s c u s s i o n s , and that doing critical thinking activities within a s m a l l peer group had e x p a n d e d their capacity for m a n a g i n g alternate points of view.  Interview d i s c u s s i o n s in N o v e m b e r a n d D e c e m b e r yielded s e v e r a l identical c o m m e n t s . In consistently repeating herself, M r s . B l a c k reinforced that her conception of critical thinking w a s a n c h o r e d to the following p h r a s e s : critical thinking is a lifelong not being passive  skill, it is the ability to think through p r o b l e m s a n d it m e a n s  about o n e ' s learning by expecting a n s w e r s to be given to y o u .  (3N a n d 4D) S h e s e e m e d most p a s s i o n a t e about student passivity a n d therefore o n e of her p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking w a s tightly bound to her notion of the problem of teaching it. In every interview s h e c o m m e n t e d that students constantly n e e d e d to b e c h a l l e n g e d to question things for t h e m s e l v e s , to p u r s u e their own understanding a n d to avoid being vulnerable to what is "not true." O n s e v e r a l o c c a s i o n s Mrs. B l a c k s a i d what s h e h o p e d her students r e a s o n a s follows: I want them to be able to look at something a n d s a y , " H e y ! I w o n d e r about this" and be able to work through the developing of a full s c i e n c e experiment or determine the m o s t important natural r e s o u r c e in C a n a d a a n d "how a m I going to figure that out? Is it  46  just b e c a u s e of what I h a v e in my h o u s e , or what the w h o l e c l a s s h a s in their h o m e s ? " It's not just sitting there a n d waiting for k n o w l e d g e to be poured into y o u , but thinking through things a n d being a n active learner. (4D) O n the s e c o n d questionnaire (May 2007) s h e wrote virtually a n identical c o m m e n t about the p u r p o s e s for t e a c h i n g critical thinking a s her first questionnaire statement: "It is a n important task for students to be able to perform in life and on the job." In short, there w a s little e v i d e n c e of c h a n g e in her conception.  Benefits of teaching critical thinking Initially, s h e c o n t e n d e d that the benefits of teaching critical thinking w e r e identical to its p u r p o s e s . S h e wrote on the first questionnaire: "The s a m e a s n u m b e r 1" m e a n i n g that her a n s w e r for the p u r p o s e of critical thinking ("It is a n important skill for the students to learn; they will n e e d this skill throughout their lives!") a l s o applied to question two. W h e n a s k e d to e x p a n d on the c o m m e n t , s h e a d d e d that critical thinking w a s beneficial to students b e c a u s e it offered t h e m opportunities to improve their " d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g skills." (1S)  Prior to the implementation of the Critical Challenges  resource, Mrs. Black's  c o m m e n t s w e r e general a n d v a g u e . But o n c e s h e b e g a n teaching the l e s s o n s , s h e reported a variety of learning e x p e r i e n c e s that illustrated specific benefits. For e x a m p l e , although in the past s h e h a d students w h o d e m o n s t r a t e d g o o d critical thinking, during the first Critical Challenges  l e s s o n there w e r e more kids  e n a b l e d a n d e n g a g e d in the critical thinking—even those w h o w e r e usually more  47  reluctant to participate. T h e l e s s o n motivated the students a n d they did not want to stop. A s e c o n d observation m a d e by M r s . B l a c k highlighted the students' collaborative small group work. S h e w i t n e s s e d them conducting "on-task d i s c u s s i o n s — n o t noisy, but talkative. I s a w kids including e a c h other in the conversation." ( 2 0 ) A third unanticipated benefit w a s the positive f e e d b a c k received from parents w h o had appreciated the recent critical thinking h o m e w o r k assignment.  In N o v e m b e r the descriptions of the critical thinking activities continued to be positive a n d pointed towards beneficial learning e x p e r i e n c e s . M r s . B l a c k a p p r e c i a t e d that the students' "knowledge (such a s capital cities or plotting coordinates on the map) could be more meaningful s i n c e it w a s being ' u s e d ' . " (3N) S h e d e s c r i b e d , for e x a m p l e , the w a y in which a group g a m e required students to rotate their responsibilities frequently thereby "forcing" a high level of at-task behavior. S h e a l s o recounted a n incident w h e n the students w e r e surprised at what they evaluated a s the most important natural r e s o u r c e . "They thought that forestry would be high a n d then they d i s c o v e r e d metal." After e x a m i n i n g their information, they realized that n e w e v i d e n c e c a u s e d them to c h a n g e their minds from their "original a n d obvious answer." (3N)  O n c e the unit of study w a s c o m p l e t e d , Mrs. B l a c k u n d e r s c o r e d the enjoyment a n d motivation o b s e r v e d in her students. In the D e c e m b e r interview, s h e referred to the s u c c e s s of the l e s s o n s :  48  T h e activity w a s really neat a n d I would definitely d o it a g a i n . T h e y had to think of their familiar objects a s natural r e s o u r c e s — r e s o u r c e s that n e e d to be taken c a r e of.... I will definitely d o the m a p p i n g activities a g a i n . T h e g a m e w a s s o g o o d that they played it twice a n d b e g g e d for more. T h e y loved it.... It a l s o taught them latitude a n d longitude. (4D) A t the e n d of the day, the things cited a s s u c c e s s f u l critical c h a l l e n g e l e s s o n s — activities that w e r e "neat" a n d " g o o d " a n d worthy of "doing a g a i n " — w e r e not justified in terms of criteria consistent with Critical Challenges  materials.  A c c o r d i n g to the pre- a n d post- questionnaire r e s p o n s e s , her notion of the benefits of critical thinking m o v e d from "an important life skill" to "a skill that will help students to question a n d r e s e a r c h . " (May 2007)  Problems encountered while teaching critical thinking In S e p t e m b e r , M r s . B l a c k had s o m e well-established s u s p i c i o n s about the p r o b l e m s s h e would be encountering while teaching critical thinking a n d it w a s evident that t h e s e anticipated difficulties w e r e rooted in past e x p e r i e n c e s . S h e u s e d the p h r a s e "lack of maturity" in two distinct w a y s : to d e s c r i b e students' reluctance to think independently a n d in reference to their inability to exhibit appropriate behavior during c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s . B a s e d on the frequency of her c o m m e n t s o n the topic over the duration of the study, it w a s c l e a r that s h e held a d e e p conviction that students today "would rather be told the a n s w e r s than have to think for t h e m s e l v e s . " (Questionnaire 1) A n d despite the p r e s e n c e of positive students w h o desired to learn a n d participate, M r s . B l a c k k n e w that there w e r e others w h o hindered c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s by making c o m m e n t s to draw a laugh. "To d i s c o u r a g e c l a s s c l o w n s , I'm trying to e n c o u r a g e the kids to understand that  49  e v e r y o n e ' s i d e a s are important a n d w e c a n learn from them." (1S) A s e c o n d struggle w a s the lack of g o o d r e s o u r c e s for teaching critical thinking in the study s c h o o l . S h e explained that s o far, s h e had generated her own critical thinking activities to insert into the curriculum. In conjunction with the n e e d for g o o d r e s o u r c e s w a s the time factor; M r s . Black disliked t e a c h e r g u i d e s that required extra time to "figure out the l e s s o n " a n d would rather s p e n d her preparation time gathering the l e s s o n materials. (1S) " L a c k of g o o d materials c a n affect the teaching, that is, a b u s y t e a c h e r n e e d s materials that don't take hours to prep!" (Questionnaire 1) A s a c o n s e q u e n c e of her preference for concrete l e s s o n materials, s h e did not read the e x t e n s i v e explanation of critical thinking provided by the Critical  Challenges.  All that mattered to her w a s the provision of student  activities.  During the O c t o b e r interview, a n enthusiastic M r s . B l a c k l a u n c h e d into a description of how the first critical c h a l l e n g e l e s s o n s had turned out. S h e reported that d i s c u s s i o n s in small groups had b e e n s u c c e s s f u l : the students e x c e e d e d her expectations of their intellectual ability (quality of their ideas) a n d also their s o c i a l skills (active listening, moving from d i s a g r e e m e n t to c o n s e n s u s ) . S h e noted that in the first l e s s o n there had not b e e n p r o b l e m s with domineering students in a group b e c a u s e e a c h pupil had a w o r k s h e e t a n d every contribution w a s required for the challenge. T h e structure of the l e s s o n plan thus averted what s h e believed to be a potential problem. S h e a c k n o w l e d g e d that "the motivation of the task m a d e the t e a c h e r ' s job easier." Furthermore, s h e  50  e x p e r i e n c e d no c o n c e r n s regarding the time it took to prepare the l e s s o n s . In fact, with the students doing the critical thinking work in a student-centered a p p r o a c h , s h e enjoyed "being a fly on the wall." "The time c o n c e r n now is that the children don't want to stop!" Interestingly, M r s . B l a c k did not offer any c o m m e n t s about the fact that the problems s h e a s s o c i a t e d with teaching critical thinking w h i c h s h e had mentioned in S e p t e m b e r had not materialized. W h e n this w a s pointed out to her, s h e said that s h e w a s still curious to s e e if t h e s e anticipated problems would surface with a different c l a s s of students s i n c e "this is a talkative group." ( 2 0 )  M i d w a y through the Critical Challenges  in N o v e m b e r M r s . B l a c k reported that the  high d e g r e e of student e n g a g e m e n t in the critical thinking l e s s o n s w a s w a n i n g for s o m e pupils. "Critical thinking is hard. S o m e kids are really g o o d at critical thinking, and I have s o m e k i d s — l e s s — t h a t still want m e to tell them the answer. T h o s e that are g o o d at it, really take off. T h e kids that struggle with critical thinking want m e to tell them everything." (3N) T h i s observation triggered a s e r i e s of c o m m e n t s about her view of the learner a n d the difficulty of teaching critical thinking. F o r e x a m p l e , s h e stated that " b a b i e s a n d toddlers are curious, but then they lose that" a n d s o s h e h o p e d that critical thinking will help retrieve the children's loss of "learning through inquiry a n d curiosity." S h e felt that kids today w e r e not c h a l l e n g e d e n o u g h in "everyday" critical thinking—solving the day-to-day p r o b l e m s on their o w n . "I think that lots of kids h a v e lost their imagination—they're s o b u s y watching T V a n d playing video g a m e s . " "I just  51  don't want students to think that everything gets h a n d e d to them b e c a u s e that's h o w society is." M r s . B l a c k referred to the hectic p a c e of family life that included fast food restaurants a n d busy m o m s "running kids to everything a n d then they c o m e h o m e a n d ' v e g ' in front of a s c r e e n . T h e y don't play. N o time." During the s e c o n d half of the interview, s h e m a d e ten c o m m e n t s about her belief that students e x p e c t e d to h a v e a n s w e r s provided for t h e m without thinking for t h e m s e l v e s with references to their h o m e life, the playground, a n d a variety of s c h o o l subjects. In contrast, the first half of the interview contained n u m e r o u s c o m m e n t s indicating that the students (with only minor exceptions) w e r e applying t h e m s e l v e s to the learning activities a n d that s h e w a s proud of their efforts.  "I'm  exciting at s e e i n g h o w the kids are d e v e l o p i n g . " It's g o o d that e a c h critical c h a l l e n g e begins with a question b e c a u s e "kids are naturally inquisitive." W h e n writing their a s s e s s m e n t p a r a g r a p h , "they all tried." In the C a n a d a g a m e , the kids helped e a c h other interpret data but not give the a n s w e r . S t u d e n t s e n c o u r a g e d the reluctant participants. K i d s w e r e excited. It w a s a lot of fun.  "It's  interesting to s e e what kids c o m e up with." (3N) All told, the N o v e m b e r interview w a s riddled with d i s c r e p a n c i e s between positive reports of s u c c e s s f u l c l a s s r o o m activities in O c t o b e r a n d N o v e m b e r a n d her conception of the p u r p o s e s , benefits a n d problems involved in teaching critical thinking. O n e final note: other than the reported w a n i n g interest of a few students in critical thinking l e s s o n s , M r s . B l a c k cited the s e l f - a s s e s s m e n t p a r a g r a p h a s a c h a l l e n g e s i n c e the students n e e d e d g u i d a n c e in their writing skills. S h e a c k n o w l e d g e d that her students w e r e "good at verbalizing i d e a s " but n e e d e d reminders about topic s e n t e n c e s with supporting  52  details. A s an e x p e r i e n c e d teacher, s h e w a s taking this problem in stride: "we're working on it."  T h e D e c e m b e r a n d M a y interviews along with the s e c o n d questionnaire continued to yield c o n c e r n s about the immaturity of students a s her priority, indeed her solitary, problem with teaching critical thinking. It b e c a m e very clear that her view of the learner w a s the foundation upon which s h e built her conception of critical thinking. O n D e c e m b e r 12, 2 0 0 6 s h e w a s a s k e d , "What is your definition of critical thinking here a n d n o w — t o d a y ? " to which s h e r e s p o n d e d : (pause) Critical thinking is—the kids want us to tell them the a n s w e r s ; they want us to treat them like the o p e n v e s s e l a n d w e just pour it all in. But that's not critical thinking, that's k n o w l e d g e acquisition.... Kids n e e d to work through things on their o w n , . . . s e e k i n g out the k n o w l e d g e a n d being willing to s a y "what about this?" or " c a n I lock up t h i s ? " It's not just "teacher tells m e " but "I h a v e a role to play in my learning" a n d it's O K to have questions a n d to look for a n s w e r s a n d to work out things a n d to struggle through things a n d to find a n s w e r s that don't a l w a y s c o m e right a w a y . . . . " S o m a y b e part of their learning is to struggle through things a n d learn that [struggling] is g o o d . (4D) Therefore, the problem with teaching critical thinking for M r s . B l a c k is o v e r c o m i n g the p e r c e i v e d problem that students would rather be told "what to think" rather than taught "how to think." S i n c e c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n w a s the format s h e most often u s e d w h e n teaching critical thinking, the immaturity i s s u e w a s problematic for her w h e n students m i s b e h a v e d by calling out, being inattentive to the ideas of others, or by monopolizing the c o n v e r s a t i o n . (5M and Q u e s t i o n n a i r e 2) Within the interviews, there w a s no explicit report that a d i s c u s s i o n time h a d g o n e poorly d u e to inappropriate student behavior.  53  Conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking A c c o r d i n g to the first questionnaire a n d interview, her principal conditions were: the t e a c h e r ' s willingness to t e a c h critical thinking, the students' willingness to e n g a g e in critical thinking (and in their own learning) a n d finally, the establishment a n d m a i n t e n a n c e of c l a s s r o o m d i s c u s s i o n behaviors. Naturally, extra time in S e p t e m b e r w a s devoted to c l a s s r o o m expectations a n d standards. R e g a r d i n g c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s , M r s . B l a c k s a i d , " K i d s are learning to wait their turn; they're doing a great job. T h e y c o m e up with great ideas a n d w h e n w e d i s c u s s them they c o m e up with more a n d more a n d more. S o m a n y h a n d s up! S o m e t i m e s I have them write things d o w n b e c a u s e we're at the e n d of the l e s s o n . " (1S) S h e w a s a l s o working at curtailing the "calling out" b e c a u s e s h e felt that quieter students w e r e being d i s c o u r a g e d from entering into the d i s c u s s i o n s . A s s h e w a s getting to k n o w her n e w students, M r s . B l a c k r e m a r k e d that this group had s e v e r a l avid readers a m o n g them a n d a s s e r t e d that well-read students "tend to h a v e a broader viewpoint, plus they tend to listen to the viewpoints of their peers better." (1S)  In October, s h e extended the notion of g o o d d i s c u s s i o n behavior to include respect for o n e another's i d e a s . S h e h o p e d that by personally modeling how e v e r y student's idea w a s important, her students would s h a r e that value, "even if they don't a g r e e with the idea." ( 2 0 ) T h e fact that the students "didn't c a r e s o m u c h about w h o w a s in their group a n d got along a s working partners" contributed to the s u c c e s s of the first l e s s o n .  54  In N o v e m b e r , with the natural wealth unit in top gear, M r s . B l a c k r e c o g n i z e d that the learning activities in Critical Challenges  l e s s o n s had built-in m e c h a n i s m s for  maximizing students' level of participation. S h e remarked that they w e r e meaningfully involved with the c o u r s e content (e.g., location of capital cities, plotting coordinates on the map) while strategizing to win the g a m e . " K i d s r e m e m b e r the activities that are h a n d s - o n a n d fun." (3N) W h i l e implementing the c h a l l e n g e s in O c t o b e r a n d N o v e m b e r , s h e continued to report s u c c e s s in terms of what the students w e r e doing. By a n d large her descriptions pertained to the s m a l l group work a n d it is not known how m u c h whole c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n w a s occurring. O n e c a n infer that the shift from t e a c h e r - g u i d e d to student-centered critical thinking activities could account, in part, for the a b s e n c e of any interview c o m m e n t s about students' d i s c u s s i o n skills during t h e s e months. B a s e d upon her narratives, M r s . B l a c k ' s e s s e n t i a l conditions requisite for teaching critical thinking (willing teacher, e n g a g e d learners, a n d d i s c u s s i o n skills) s e e m e d to be functioning quite well.  In the s u m m a r y interview in D e c e m b e r , M r s . B l a c k reiterated that the primary condition requisite for teaching critical thinking is willing students w h o d o not sit back a n d let information be poured into them, but rather, take responsibility for their o w n learning. (4D) T h e s e c o n d questionnaire rounded out the other two e s s e n t i a l conditions: " A c l a s s that is respectful of o n e another a n d c o n s i d e r s what e a c h m e m b e r s a y s a s important, a n d a t e a c h e r willing to t e a c h critical thinking instead of reading from a text."  55  Critical thinking within the s c h o o l context O n e of the r e a s o n s M r s . B l a c k w a s motivated to participate in this project w a s b e c a u s e of the p e r c e i v e d lack of critical thinking r e s o u r c e s within the s c h o o l . A s exemplified in her pursuit of n e w F r e n c h r e s o u r c e s , s h e thrives on a variety of teaching materials a n d is very interested in exploring them. S h e a l s o mentioned that critical thinking "is important from the top-down. T h e principal is very supportive of professional d e v e l o p m e n t a n d e n c o u r a g e d t e a c h e r s to participate in this critical thinking study." (1S) T h e r e w a s a l s o an optimistic s e n s e that if s o m e t e a c h e r s participated in this r e s e a r c h , it would g e n e r a t e a n interest in critical thinking a m o n g c o l l e a g u e s .  Mrs. B l a c k e x p e r i e n c e d positive support a n d appreciative c o m m e n t s from parents in O c t o b e r a n d N o v e m b e r . T h e "natural r e s o u r c e s at h o m e " a s s i g n m e n t m a d e a positive i m p r e s s i o n b e c a u s e this h o m e w o r k e x e r c i s e went b e y o n d "busy work."  L i k e M r s . S m i t h , s h e interpreted the s c h o o l vision statement to m e a n that critical thinking s h o u l d be applied a c r o s s the curriculum. O n s e v e r a l o c c a s i o n s s h e referred to the " d e e p e r thinking" that occurred through c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s during novel studies. Additionally, her list of critical thinking activities r e c o r d e d o n the J u n e 2 0 0 6 survey w a s representative of efforts to have students "delve d e e p " a n d solve problems in a variety of subject a r e a s .  56  S h e w a s highly a w a r e of infusing Christian perspective into her l e s s o n s throughout e a c h day, a n d b e l i e v e d that "Christ-like living o n a daily b a s i s " w a s a top priority at the s c h o o l . S h e c h a l l e n g e d her students to think, "What would J e s u s d o ? " , a n d felt that critical thinking a n d her Christian perspective w e r e not ideologically o p p o s e d . I think they belong together. A s y o u read a n d a s y o u pray, y o u are trying to b e c o m e more Christ-like, which then turns on your critical thinking b e c a u s e then you're not going to take everything that the world throws at you a s g o s p e l truth. O n e e n d s up s a y i n g , ' H e y , wait—that d o e s n ' t quite s o u n d right. I'd like to d o s o m e r e s e a r c h on this. I'd like to learn more about this myself.'... T h e r e are s o m e kids in my c l a s s w h o are good—they're getting it, a n d there are still s o m e w h o are fighting it a n d they want m e to just tell them the a n s w e r s . W h a t I'm trying to get t h e m to understand is the [importance a n d effort involved in] thinking critically a n d thinking through things. If you look at C h r i s t — H e would tell stories a n d I think H e w a s teaching [critical thinking—thinking for oneself] to us right then. If you b e c o m e legalistic, then y o u b e c o m e really c l o s e d - m i n d e d . T h e r e are a l w a y s n e w things h a p p e n i n g a n d the kids are being b o m b a r d e d with information.... T h e y n e e d to b e a b l e to think through things from a Christian perspective—from "who they are." (5M)  Summary M r s . B l a c k did not e x p e r i e n c e any c h a n g e in her c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking a s is e v i d e n c e d by the relatively static nature of her pre- a n d post- study c o m m e n t s . B e c a u s e s h e is highly motivated by the practicality of teaching r e s o u r c e s , s h e implemented the l e s s o n s and reported s u c c e s s f u l e x p e r i e n c e s of student e n g a g e m e n t in critical thinking activities. T h e innovation, however, w a s not a n e w teaching resource but a n underlying conception a n d p e d a g o g i c a l a p p r o a c h  57  to teaching critical thinking; t h e s e theoretical a s p e c t s w e r e o v e r l o o k e d by M r s . Black. C o n s e q u e n t l y , s h e exhibited s o m e s e l e c t e d procedural but no c o n c e p t u a l clarity. H e r relative e a s e in delivering the l e s s o n s indicated that the complexities a s s o c i a t e d with c h a n g e were not existent a n d therefore her e x p e r i e n c e in implementing the innovation w a s o n e of false clarity.  Mrs. Jay T h i s s u m m a r y d o c u m e n t s the c a s e of M r s . J a y , a g r a d e six t e a c h e r w h o h a s taught for nearly three d e c a d e s . With a n i m p r e s s i v e length a n d diversity of c l a s s r o o m e x p e r i e n c e s , s h e a c k n o w l e d g e d that there w e r e m a n y a s p e c t s of t e a c h i n g that s h e did intuitively—the incorporation of Christian perspective ranking at the top. R e c o g n i z i n g that critical thinking p l a c e d "a distant s e c o n d " , s h e volunteered to participate in this study with a curious mix of hesitation a n d intentionality, expecting that s h e would be "stretched" in s o m e way. During the two month period that s h e taught the Critical Challenges: People's  Caring for  Young  Rights l e s s o n s ( C a s e , 2004), s h e e x p e r i e n c e d the discomforts of the  stretching p r o c e s s affecting both her teaching practices a n d her conception of critical thinking.  Interviews w e r e s c h e d u l e d a s follows: 1. O c t o b e r 18, 2 0 0 6  (10)  2. N o v e m b e r 14, 2 0 0 6  (2N)  3. D e c e m b e r 12, 2 0 0 6  (3D)  58  4. M a y 2 8 , 2 0 0 7  (4M)  Focus Group sessions: 1. S e p t e m b e r 28, 2 0 0 6  (FG1S)  2. N o v e m b e r 14, 2 0 0 6  (FG2N)  M r s . J a y w a s not present.  Teacher profile and classroom context Mrs. J a y is the most e x p e r i e n c e d t e a c h e r a m o n g the r e s e a r c h participants.  Her  teaching c a r e e r b e g a n with two y e a r s in the public s y s t e m in northern British C o l u m b i a , followed by twenty-six y e a r s in the study s c h o o l . T h e total twentyeight y e a r s of teaching consist of a s s i g n m e n t s in the following g r a d e s : kindergarten, two, three, four, six, a n d s e v e n , with the largest concentration of thirteen y e a r s e x p e r i e n c e in kindergarten. S h e is a l s o a parent a n d therefore her y e a r s of teaching e x p e r i e n c e are a mix of part a n d full time employment.  W h e n a s k e d to n a m e s o m e attributes that d e s c r i b e herself a s a teacher, s h e mentioned g e n t l e n e s s a n d creativity.  In terms of teaching style, s h e feels that  s h e is in a transition a w a y from a traditional style, b e c o m i n g more "go with the flow" a n d moving from a structured a p p r o a c h to "not having a w h o l e a g e n d a m a p p e d out." At this point in her c a r e e r s h e v a l u e s " s e e i n g w h e r e the kids are a n d then going a l o n g with w h e r e they're at." T h e s e c h a n g e s are a n indication of a c o n s c i o u s effort to k e e p current with the teaching profession. S h e noted that  59  s o m e c h a n g e s are unavoidable b e c a u s e n e w textbooks d e m a n d different pedagogical approaches.  M r s . J a y regards herself a s a p e r s o n w h o is o p e n to c h a n g e . H o w e v e r , a s the d i s c u s s i o n about the implementation of n e w teaching i d e a s continued, s h e s a i d , " W h e n p e o p l e a s k m e to try a n e w i d e a , I immediately think ' O h , that's not a g o o d idea a n d I know why it won't work.' A n d then I think, ' O h , don't be like that! M a y b e if I tried it a g a i n . . . . I'm better than this' [meaning the negative attitude]." (4M) H e r c o m m e n t s reveal a n initial r e s i s t a n c e w h i c h s h e then attempts to convert to a positive r e s p o n s e . S h e b e c a m e more comfortable in handling c h a n g e a s family d e m a n d s d e c r e a s e d : W h e n my kids w e r e younger, I didn't have a s m u c h energy to put into s c h o o l . S o I would go with the tried-and-true. I wasn't o p e n to n e w styles [of teaching] b e c a u s e I didn't want to put the time a n d e n e r g y into it. It w o r k e d to a point, but it w a s n ' t the best w a y to t e a c h . But now that my kids are older, I have more time to think about [my teaching] a n d feel more confident to try a few other things. ... I u s e d to be a w a r e of n e w i d e a s a n d d i s m i s s them b e c a u s e of my family. N o w I pick up that b o o k or journal a n d take the time to read a n d browse. I m a y not run with the idea, but at least I a m taking the first step. (4M) S h e a l s o referred to the role of k n o w l e d g e g a i n e d throughout y e a r s of t e a c h i n g . S h e k n o w s about the energy it t a k e s to do the extra preparation w h e n trying s o m e t h i n g new—time is a precious commodity. T h e maturity that c o m e s from e x p e r i e n c e helps her filter the ideas and innovations s h e gives attention to.  Mrs. J a y ' s e x p e r i e n c e in this r e s e a r c h study is integrally c o n n e c t e d to her ideas a n d feelings about professional c h a n g e s . Initially, s h e e x p r e s s e d hesitation  60  about participating b e c a u s e it would m e a n "doing something new", that is, c h a n g e . A n d yet s h e wiliingly volunteered, earnestly e x p r e s s i n g desire to be a s helpful a s p o s s i b l e for the s a k e of this r e s e a r c h , e v e n though "something like this" w a s not something s h e would ordinarily do. ( 1 0 ) At the time of the c o n c l u d i n g interview, s h e noted that participating in the study this past y e a r h a d b e c o m e a "biography" of her professional growth, a n d valued participation b e c a u s e it afforded opportunity to reflect upon her teaching c a r e e r a n d evolution a s a n educator. T h e r e w e r e n e w insights a n d e p i p h a n y m o m e n t s that surfaced during the final interview a s s h e g a v e voice to her thoughts. F o r this veteran teacher, c o n v e r s a t i o n s about professional identity a s a c h a n g i n g practitioner clarified reflections on her growth. S h e r e c o g n i z e d that the r e s e a r c h e x p e r i e n c e helped her s e e what w a s vibrant in her teaching a n d the v a l u e of being attentive to it. " A gift." (4M)  During the y e a r of this study, M r s . J a y had a grade six c l a s s of twenty-six students—fourteen b o y s a n d twelve girls. S h e c o m m e n t e d that the group w a s a c a d e m i c a l l y on the low side: P l o d d e r s . F o r about half the c l a s s , learning has a l w a y s b e e n a bit of a chore for them. Of the three c l a s s e s in g r a d e six in our s c h o o l , I tend to get the lower students; administrators feel that my gifts— my p a t i e n c e — a r e better suited for meeting t h e s e students' n e e d s . T h e other two t e a c h e r s are m a l e a n d they a b s o r b the students with behavioural c h a l l e n g e s . T h i s is fine in her opinion; it's a win-win situation. T h e r e are four or five kids w h o are d e s c r i b e d a s "very bright" a n d t h e s e students receive extra c h a l l e n g e s a n d work on projects independently; then s h e h a s more time for the plodders. T h e  61  two s p e c i a l n e e d s students e a c h have a fulltime S p e c i a l E d u c a t i o n A s s i s t a n t . Socially, the students are "subdued—pretty c a l m . "  Purposes for teaching critical thinking Prior to working with the Critical Challenges,  Mrs. J a y defined critical thinking in  the following way: • • •  Don't take everything y o u hear a s being ultimate truth. Think about it, b e c o m e discerning, question it a n d find out if the facts are there. L o o k b e y o n d the obvious a n s w e r s ; what is the author trying to c o n v e y ; what c a n w e learn about o u r s e l v e s through a study of ? B e properly informed about things.  T o the question, "In what w a y s h a v e y o u incorporated critical thinking into your l e s s o n s this past y e a r ? " , s h e wrote: • • •  reading articles from the n e w s p a p e r reading b o o k s or reviews about Christianity c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n s about our lives a n d the influences of media/TV/advertising a n d how it affects us (survey, J u n e 2006)  In S e p t e m b e r , M r s . J a y supplied the following statements about her p u r p o s e s for t e a c h i n g critical thinking: •  T o c h a l l e n g e students to think for t h e m s e l v e s a n d not to believe everything they hear a n d read, e s p e c i a l l y in advertising, m e d i a , newspaper.  • •  T o t e a c h the students to a s k "why" a n d "how" questions. T o teach students to u s e the W o r d of G o d a s the authority on spiritual i s s u e s . (Questionnaire 1)  T h e s e c o m m e n t s , along with her definition of critical thinking provided a b o v e , s e r v e a s a b a s e l i n e for e x a m i n i n g the nature a n d range of the c h a n g e s e x p e r i e n c e d in her conception a n d practice of teaching critical thinking.  62  T h e O c t o b e r interview which w a s s c h e d u l e d to capture first i m p r e s s i o n s of the Critical Challenges  b e g a n with the question, "What's n e w ? " T h i s question  p e r m e a t e d the entire d i s c u s s i o n a s indicators of c h a n g e b e g a n to s u r f a c e through c o m m e n t s about the p u r p o s e s , benefits, problems, a n d requisite conditions of teaching critical thinking. A t this point in time, s h e had familiarized herself with the resource a n d had completed the s e c o n d l e s s o n earlier that day. S h e repeated her fundamental understanding of the p u r p o s e s of critical thinking (to e n c o u r a g e kids to a s k d e e p e r questions a n d to u s e Scripture a s a n a n c h o r point) a n d then a d d e d a metacognition c o m p o n e n t to her original p u r p o s e s . W h e n you a s k "why" questions, you a l s o have to think about why you think the way you do. F o r e x a m p l e , d o e s m o n e y n e c e s s a r i l y give y o u a better quality of life? W h a t d o e s the Bible s a y ? I g u e s s I a l w a y s try to look at Scripture a n d s e e how it fits into the l e s s o n a n d to how w e think critically. ( 1 0 ) A n o t h e r thing that's new for m e : in the past I've a l w a y s just a s k e d the "why q u e s t i o n s " but I didn't have the kids d i s c u s s it a m o n g t h e m s e l v e s . In today's l e s s o n they had to look at their r e s p o n s e s a n d find out if s o m e of their r e s p o n s e s w e r e the s a m e a s their friends' a n d then d i s c u s s "why did you rate that 'quality of life' a s a 3 ? " S o they w e r e arguing about it...thinking critically with their friends. In the past, it's just b e e n a why question that they individually write on their p a g e . This g o e s the extra step! I'm not the filter for their ideas—the peers are. I a m experiencing a n e w style of t e a c h i n g [with Critical Challenges], but it's g o o d for m e to be stretched. With critical thinking, I'm u s e d to being teacherdirected. T o d a y the bell rang for lunch and they w e r e not finished talking yet a n d w a n t e d to continue. I went "whew, that's nice!" T h e y w e r e on task too. ( 1 0 )  B y N o v e m b e r , s h e revised her p u r p o s e yet again for teaching critical thinking: "to e n a b l e students to e x e r c i s e d e e p e r levels of thinking (judging, evaluating, justifying r e a s o n s ) in peer groups." S h e continued by stating that critical thinking  63  e n c o m p a s s e d more than just s o c i a l studies and that the tools outlined in the materials w e r e transferable to m a n y other subjects. A recent c l a s s d i s c u s s i o n on the topic of H a l l o w e e n illustrated her point, a s s h e mentioned h o w this a n n u a l d i s c u s s i o n had b e e n injected with the n e w critical thinking vocabulary: "What are the indirect c o n s e q u e n c e s of trick-or-treating?" "What is the bias in this n e w s p a p e r article I'm reading to y o u about H a l l o w e e n ? " A n d they're really thinking about it—they realize the importance of sufficient b a c k g r o u n d information in order to d i s c u s s the issue. (2N) S h e s a i d s h e " u s e d to just be c o n c e r n e d about covering the content; now I can't s e p a r a t e the critical thinking skills from the content c o v e r a g e a n y m o r e . " (2N) E v e n more significantly, s h e now believed that her p u r p o s e for teaching critical thinking at this s c h o o l included providing the opportunity for students to honestly explore a n d question their faith a n d beliefs in a s a f e a n d respectful context.  In D e c e m b e r , c o m m e n t s about the p u r p o s e s of t e a c h i n g critical thinking e x p o s e d h o w n e w w a y s of thinking had b e g u n to affect daily teaching habits. "I think I've c h a n g e d . . . . I'm looking for a n s w e r s to 'why' and the supporting e v i d e n c e for the answer." (3D) I'm giving them more time to think. Instead of just immediately getting r e s p o n s e s from kids that have their hand up, I'm waiting. "Stop a n d think before you answer," b e c a u s e part of the waiting is letting students think about the e v i d e n c e they h a v e for their i d e a , a n d trying to get t h o s e kids w h o are [reluctant to think to participate]. (3D) T h e s e c o n d questionnaire later in D e c e m b e r captured the two distinguishing features of T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m ' s definition, that is, critical thinking e m b e d d e d in content rich curriculum a n d the teaching of the intellectual tools:  64  T h e p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking are: •  to t e a c h children how to understand d e e p l y a n d think b e y o n d b a s i c recall  •  to give the students the tools to d o this... s o that they will be able to m a k e w i s e c h o i c e s in their adult lives.  T h e follow-up interview in M a y revealed that c h a n g e s in her thinking a n d teaching had b e e n s u s t a i n e d . M o r e o v e r , her attitude toward teaching critical thinking had c h a n g e d in a very positive way. I would c o n s i d e r critical thinking far more n e c e s s a r y n o w than I would h a v e thought before. T o be a g o o d t e a c h e r I feel that it's n e c e s s a r y that I work o n the critical thinking skills, not just b e c a u s e it's in our vision statement, but b e c a u s e that's what students n e e d to survive in society—that they n e e d to be able to think.... T h e n e e d for critical thinking has b e e n intensified by the nature of today's culture a n d society. I think that's true for both public s c h o o l s a n d faith-based s c h o o l s , but in a w a y e v e n more for us, s o that w e really k n o w w h y w e believe what w e believe. (4M) B e c a u s e of her e x p e r i e n c e with the materials, M r s . J a y p l a c e d m u c h greater v a l u e a n d priority o n t e a c h i n g critical thinking, d e e m i n g it a s n e c e s s a r y for life. Therefore, s h e had b e c o m e more intentional about including critical thinking in her t e a c h i n g . O n e e x a m p l e of this: from J a n u a r y to M a y , s h e revised the unit tests u s e d over the recent y e a r s s o that her evaluation of pupil p r o g r e s s reflected the "deeper" critical thinking now e x p e c t e d of her students. (4M)  Benefits of teaching critical thinking Prior to implementation of the s o c i a l studies unit, Mrs. J a y said that teaching critical thinking provided students with opportunities to think for t h e m s e l v e s , draw their o w n c o n c l u s i o n s , d e b a t e constructively, a n d b e c o m e better e q u i p p e d to be  65  effective citizens in G o d ' s world. (Questionnaire 1) W h e n s h e b e g a n teaching the n e w l e s s o n s in October, s h e reported that the students w e r e e x c e e d i n g her expectations and noted that the Critical Challenges  required l e s s of t e a c h e r a n d  more of kids' input. I didn't think s o m e of t h e s e kids had opinions that they could v e r b a l i z e just b e c a u s e they are very low a c a d e m i c a l l y , a n d I didn't think that they would be able to put it down on paper.... But with Critical Challenges I have e v i d e n c e that the learning is still h a p p e n i n g . T h e y wrote p a r a g r a p h s in partners a n d the kids really"got their teeth into it." ( 1 0 ) S h e w a s p l e a s e d to witness the level at which the students w e r e e n g a g e d and s u c c e e d i n g . In contrast to her former a p p r o a c h to t e a c h i n g , t h e s e l e s s o n s w e r e more inclusive of all students a n d her anticipated problem of "opinion-less kids" had not s u r f a c e d .  During the s e c o n d interview in N o v e m b e r , M r s . J a y had more pleasant s u r p r i s e s to report—surprises b e c a u s e t h e s e benefits of critical thinking w e r e s o u n e x p e c t e d . S h e w a s a m a z e d at how highly motivated her students continued to be in s o c i a l studies c l a s s .  O n e parent had r e m a r k e d , " M y child is k e e n about  s c h o o l b e c a u s e of the Critical Challenges  l e s s o n s . " (2N) T h i s parent w a s  e s p e c i a l l y appreciative of the long-awaited breakthrough that o c c u r r e d in her s o n ' s positive attitude toward learning. M r s . J a y d i s c o v e r e d that the students w e r e a l s o extending the l e s s o n s ; for e x a m p l e , they w a n t e d to know more about the c o n n e c t i o n s between their religious beliefs a n d h u m a n rights. T h r o u g h their e n g a g e m e n t in the l e s s o n s , students w e r e "teaching the teacher" about critical thinking. (2N) Finally, s h e c o m m e n t e d briefly on the beneficial a s p e c t of the  66  students' critical thinking abilities being e x e r c i s e d through the s o c i a l studies c o u r s e content. I u s e d to b e s o c o n c e r n e d about t e a c h i n g the content a n d I'm still c o n c e r n e d about it, but adding critical thinking to it [doesn't m e a n I've stopped] teaching the content. I m e a n , I'm still teaching the content, but it's not one or the other now. A n d I g u e s s I'm s e e i n g that more. (2N)  In D e c e m b e r , s h e talked about the d e v e l o p m e n t of s o c i a l skills within a f o c u s e d working situation: T h e kids have b e c o m e more talkative in that "they h a v e things to say." In other y e a r s w h e n I put kids in groups, they would be talking but I don't think they could "hear e a c h other" a s well a s they are doing now with this unit a n d the accumulation of group work e x p e r i e n c e s they have h a d . T h e y ' v e had more "microphone time" a s individuals, plus they're feeling freer about sharing i d e a s . It's on-task talking—they're more e n g a g e d with the notion of "testing their i d e a s " with their peers. (3D) A s e c o n d benefit referred to the progress students w e r e making in reporting a n d c o m m u n i c a t i n g their critical thinking work. G r e a t e r u s e of graphic organizers, V e n n d i a g r a m s a n d continuums w e r e beneficial in two w a y s : "they're learning h o w to o r g a n i z e their a n s w e r s to q u e s t i o n s . . . a n d s e c o n d l y , I c a n s e e that their answers/thoughts are in fact moving in the right direction. It c o m e s back to the importance of the critical thinking tools—but it's the talk that p r e c e d e s the organization a n d e x p r e s s i o n of the i d e a s that matters too." (3D) T h e s e c o n d questionnaire r e s p o n s e illustrated how the conception of critical thinking had b e c o m e more p r e c i s e over three months regarding the u s e of intellectual tools: • • •  s h a r e i d e a s a n d thoughts about things, e s p e c i a l l y in d i s c u s s i o n s . enriched by hearing others' points of view learn how to support their views with e v i d e n c e a n d r e a s o n  67  • •  learn how to evaluate r e s o u r c e material a s to whether it is a good reliable s o u r c e , e.g., internet w e b s i t e s learn how to draw r e a s o n a b l e / s e n s i b l e c o n c l u s i o n s .  Problems encountered while teaching critical thinking In S e p t e m b e r , Mrs. J a y wrote that the problem with teaching critical thinking is that s o m e g r a d e six students s e e m to be opinion-less. T h e y s e e m to take a n d believe things at f a c e v a l u e — p e r h a p s they have not b e e n c h a l l e n g e d to a s k why. O n the other h a n d , s o m e t i m e s I h a v e b e e n frustrated with kids continually challenging the validity of things—for e x a m p l e a s k i n g "why d o w e h a v e to d o this?" a n d "What's the v a l u e ? " I feel like they n e e d to find a b a l a n c e ; there is a place to challenge, but also a p l a c e a n d time to a c c e p t that this is just the w a y it is. (Questionnaire 1) S h e found p r o b l e m s with two groups of students: t h o s e w h o w e r e s e e m i n g l y gullible a n d didn't c h a l l e n g e i d e a s , a n d those w h o n e e d e d to find a b a l a n c e in what/who to c h a l l e n g e . W h e n her questionnaire c o m m e n t s w e r e d i s c u s s e d in the O c t o b e r interview, s h e a c k n o w l e d g e d that, developmentally, her g r a d e six students w e r e in an important p h a s e of life w h e n they are establishing more i n d e p e n d e n c e , and that students w h o frequently c h a l l e n g e parents or t e a c h e r m a y not n e c e s s a r i l y be demonstrating critical thinking. W h e n a s k e d about her anticipated problem of opinion-less students, s h e immediately replied that this w a s not a difficulty at all with the Critical  Challenges  materials. S h e a l s o had no  p r o b l e m s to report about the preparation or delivery of the l e s s o n s ; relying on e x p e r i e n c e , s h e found it e a s y to m a k e adaptations a n d select appropriate l e s s o n options.  68  During the midpoint interview in N o v e m b e r , s h e talked about her c o n c e r n s about student a s s e s s m e n t . S h e w a s hesitant about grading the written a s s i g n m e n t s b e c a u s e s h e k n e w that the "paperwork" from her students w a s usually w e a k a n d did not e x p e c t that their p a r a g r a p h s would reflect the critical thinking w i t n e s s e d in their group work. At this juncture, it w a s evident to her that d i s c r e p a n c i e s b e t w e e n students' oral a n d written work n e c e s s i t a t e d a reframing of her s y s t e m of student evaluation. S o s h e continued to m a k e adaptations a s n e c e s s a r y w h e n the Critical Challenges  l e s s o n plans w e r e not a n ideal fit for her c l a s s , skipping  portions of a l e s s o n and c h o o s i n g s o m e shorter information p a s s a g e s . A l t h o u g h the "trial a n d error" a s p e c t of piloting a n e w curriculum r e s o u r c e w a s not problematic to this e x p e r i e n c e d teacher, the most significant problem e n c o u n t e r e d while t e a c h i n g critical thinking w a s e x p o s e d in the N o v e m b e r interview. T h e cumulative impact of o n e month's work with multiple viewpoints, justifiable opinions, reliable s o u r c e s , and biblical authority had c o m e to a h e a d . I'm unraveling. T h e students a s k m e questions, about Scripture too, that I can't a n s w e r . I find it a little s c a r y b e c a u s e I'm being p u s h e d out of my comfort z o n e . But I like it b e c a u s e I actually find it challenging. I'm on the e d g e thinking it's e a s i e r to be here. I'm not going to ruffle a n y o n e ' s feathers, but w h e n I'm moving here to the e d g e with difficult questions, I'm wondering about what the kids are hearing m e s a y a n d what they'll go h o m e a n d say. But then, no-one h a s given m e any negative f e e d b a c k s o I g u e s s I'm doing O K . (2N) Mrs. J a y s a i d s h e felt prepared a n d confident to r e s p o n d to any parent c o n c e r n s s h o u l d they c o m e her w a y . H e r c o m m e n t s indicated that although s h e w a s being c h a l l e n g e d by her students' critical thinking a n d w a s wrestling with her c h a n g i n g c o n c e p t i o n of it, s h e still w e l c o m e d this problem. (More about this problem will  69  be d i s c u s s e d within the " s c h o o l context" b e c a u s e her difficulties with critical thinking are intertwined with her Christian perspective.)  In D e c e m b e r , M r s . J a y reported how s h e had resolved her problem with student evaluation. "I looked at the rubric s o that I k n e w what I w a s s u p p o s e d to be looking for. But in the e n d , I went with my a n e c d o t a l a s s e s s m e n t s a n d observations of the critical thinking e v i d e n c e d o n e in small groups and c l a s s work." (3D) F o r the first time, s h e had m a d e c o m m e n t s about e a c h student's critical thinking abilities on her report c a r d s . With regards to the Challenges  Critical  unit, s h e said that two months had b e e n a bit too long. "At the e n d , I  found it a little tedious a n d the kids w e r e losing their p i z z a z z . . . however, I think that w h e n w e m o v e to another topic, all the e n t h u s i a s m will c o m e back a g a i n . " (3D) S h e a l s o noted that in o n e particular l e s s o n her g r o u p s w e r e too large a n d the students w e r e "jockeying for leadership position"; in her opinion, g r o u p s of three or four students w e r e a l w a y s fine. In her closing c o m m e n t , s h e s u m m a r i z e d her p e r s o n a l c h a n g e : Critical Challenges has m o v e d m e out of my comfort z o n e . It's m a d e m e stop a n d think about what I'm doing a n d why I'm doing it. It took a bit of energy—I w a s taking the book h o m e a n d thinking it through b e c a u s e I wanted to do a g o o d job; also, put more effort into it b e c a u s e I k n e w I w a s doing it for the r e s e a r c h too. W h e n I d o it next year, it'll be m u c h easier. (3D)  R e m a r k s in the follow-up questionnaire f o c u s e d on the group work a s the context for learning, and raised a n e w c h a l l e n g e that had not b e e n mentioned in the interviews. S h e wrote that although the s i z e of g r o u p s w a s critical, s o w a s their  70  composition: "I had to be careful how I grouped kids: s o m e wouldn't let others talk a n d wouldn't listen." (Questionnaire 2)  Conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking C o m i n g into this study, s h e felt strongly that " a s a f e environment w h e r e kids dare to question, d a r e to give opinions, and be given respect by the t e a c h e r a n d fellow students w h e n doing s o " w a s the o n e e s s e n t i a l condition that would support the teaching of critical thinking. (Questionnaire 1) During the first interview, s h e g a v e a n in-depth description of what s h e did to create a trusting a n d respectful c l a s s r o o m climate. T h i s included modeling a n attitude of o p e n n e s s to others' ideas, giving e x a m p l e s of o p p o s i n g yet valid viewpoints from her o w n family, establishing guidelines for c l a s s r o o m d i s c u s s i o n s , a n d s o m e t i m e s , creating a n a m b i e n c e for "heart-to-heart c o n v e r s a t i o n s " with a lit c a n d l e . "I d o a lot of work in my c l a s s on feeling safe. ' N o b o d y will be laughing at y o u ; w e will listen a n d respect.' S o m e m a y love to s p e a k out loud more than others but we all have something important to s a y . " ( 1 0 ) A respectful c l a s s r o o m climate w a s a priority b e c a u s e s h e v a l u e d the "voice" of e a c h student a n d the n e c e s s i t y of meaningful dialogue in the light of today's pluralistic society.  F r o m her c o m m e n t s in the N o v e m b e r interview it w a s apparent that s h e continued to be vigilant about maintaining a respectful tone in the c l a s s r o o m insisting o n students "taking turns, no laughing a n d no put-downs." (2N) S h e a s s e s s e d that the students w e r e doing well a n d noted that their d i s c u s s i o n w a s  71  getting d e e p e r into the i s s u e s a n d v a l u e s at h a n d . "They d o s a y what they think, a n d the other kids are r e s p o n s i v e — b u t w e ' v e w o r k e d on that in other a r e a s too." (2N) S h e a l s o cited the v a l u e of small peer g r o u p s a s a working condition that supported students in developing critical thinking.  In D e c e m b e r , M r s . J a y reported that the materials had m o v e d her further a w a y from the traditional t r a n s m i s s i o n of information style of teaching—from "content c o v e r a g e to c o v e r a g e of meaningful information." (3D) B a s e d on the e x p e r i e n c e , a condition requisite to teaching critical thinking meant that s h e had to let g o of s o m e old habits (pedagogical style) a n d p e r s p e c t i v e s on covering the curriculum. A few d a y s later, her i d e a s about conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking w e r e s u m m a r i z e d in Q u e s t i o n n a i r e 2. • • •  •  T h e t e a c h e r n e e d s to be interested in the subject material. K i d s n e e d to feel that they are in a s a f e s e c u r e environment w h e r e their contributions to d i s c u s s i o n s are respected a n d listened to. K i d s a l s o n e e d to be given a d e q u a t e b a c k g r o u n d information on a topic in order to think critically about it a n d draw c o n c l u s i o n s about it. S t u d e n t s a l s o n e e d to b e taught h o w to think critically....use tools like continuums, V e n n diagrams....to o r g a n i z e the information they are given a n d to be able to draw c o n c l u s i o n s from it.  In addition to her original priority on a positive c l a s s r o o m climate, s h e extended her list to include s o m e of the strategies a n d tools fundamental to the Challenges  resource.  72  Critical  Critical thinking within the s c h o o l context "To tell y o u the truth, I never really thought that m u c h about the critical thinking part of our m i s s i o n statement.... M y f o c u s has b e e n on the Christ-centred teaching." ( 1 0 ) M r s . J a y b e g a n to reflect back on her twenty-six y e a r history in the study s c h o o l . Having arrived during the 1980's from the public s c h o o l s in the north s h e s a i d , "I didn't really k n o w what I w a s getting into w h e n I c a m e to this Christian s c h o o l . " S h e recalled that her f o c u s w a s o n "trying to bring Christianity into my t e a c h i n g . " W h e n the m i s s i o n statement with the critical thinking w a s brought in ("at least ten y e a r s ago") s h e r e m e m b e r e d thinking, "well, what d o e s that m e a n ? A n d I haven't— (pause).  I don't know if I really got into the critical  thinking stage. I think that s o m e of it c o m e s out naturally, but not a s m u c h a s it s h o u l d . " ( 1 0 ) W h e n a s k e d if there w a s staff d e v e l o p m e n t d a y s devoted to teaching critical thinking s h e replied: "I don't feel like I've had any formal training o n h o w to t e a c h critical thinking. I've talked with c o l l e a g u e s . G e n e r a l l y w e a s k 'why q u e s t i o n s ' at the e n d of the test." Nor, a c c o r d i n g to M r s . J a y , did there s e e m to be any s c h o o l criteria for defining or testing critical thinking, a n d then s h e a d d e d , "I think that my definition of critical thinking is c h a n g i n g already a s I work with Critical C h a l l e n g e s . " ( 1 0 ) S h e did feel that, in light of c h a l l e n g e s for kids growing up in the twenty-first century, the inclusion of the critical thinking c o m p o n e n t in the vision statement had b e e n n e c e s s a r y a n d timely.  73  A s mentioned earlier, her c o n c e r n over religious authority i s s u e s while teaching critical thinking occurred halfway through the unit. W h a t triggered her "unraveling" a s a t e a c h e r is unique to M r s . J a y in this Christian s c h o o l context: T h e kids are a s k i n g more questions. I s a y , "This is the inspired W o r d of G o d , " a n d the kids ask, "What d o e s that really m e a n ? H o w d o you know this is absolute truth? A n d what about the stuff in this article or text or internet—is that really true?" T h e y ' r e looking at the "slant" in the m a g a z i n e a n d now they're questioning the s o u r c e s . I feel g o o d about the d i s c u s s i o n s but I w o n d e r what the kids s a y w h e n they g o h o m e . (2N) T h e students w e r e truly a s k i n g the difficult questions a n d they were, i n d e e d , teaching their t e a c h e r about critical thinking. In spite of her p e r s o n a l disturbance regarding the implications of critical thinking, s h e d e c l a r e d : "But this is s u c h a huge part of learning! W h a t do w e want our graduates to leave with? A n e d u c a t i o n ! W e want t h e m to be critical thinkers, to m a k e g o o d d e c i s i o n s using t h e s e tools...." S h e had b e e n s p e a k i n g slowly a n d p a u s e d to ask if s h e w a s being clear. " W e want them to m a k e d e c i s i o n s that lead to responsible living." T h e s e w o r d s indicated not only a d e e p e r intellectual understanding of the p u r p o s e s of critical thinking, but a l s o a d e e p e r v a l u e a n d ownership of t h o s e purposes.  During the D e c e m b e r interview, s h e talked about her "do you think this is true?" a p p r o a c h to teaching that had b e e n part of her questioning for quite s o m e time; it had e v o l v e d over the y e a r s a s o n e technique for incorporating Christian perspective into l e s s o n s . S h e a s k e d this question more frequently now, but more importantly, the context for d i s c u s s i n g it included critical thinking terminology a n d  74  strategies. S h e illustrated with a n e x a m p l e from a l e s s o n earlier that day. S h e had b e e n reading to the students something about the M a g i in the C h r i s t m a s story. B e y o n d a s k i n g the solitary "is this true?" question, s h e c h a l l e n g e d them with : D o w e a c c e p t this information? S h o u l d w e c o n s i d e r the point of view of the author? T h e r e isn't m u c h about the M a g i in the Bible, s o w h e r e should w e look for reliable information? S h e had a l s o pointed out that this article had s e v e r a l r e s o u r c e s referenced within the text a n d reminded her pupils that references are not what they usually s e e on w e b s i t e s .  E v e n though the critical thinking unit w a s  c o m p l e t e d , s h e continued a s k i n g students the tougher questions a n d they, in kind, w e r e still a s k i n g plenty too. "It's O K for m e not to have the a n s w e r s . A n d I tell the kids that I don't know. I've s a i d 'I don't know' to the kids more times this fall than I u s e d to." (3D)  W h e n a s k e d in M a y what s h e now c o n s i d e r e d to be the relationship (if any) b e t w e e n Christian perspective a n d critical thinking, s h e cautiously r e s p o n d e d , " W e l l , a s Christians w e n e e d to think critically.... [Using a V e n n diagram model,] I think that ideally, they would be overlapping. F o r m e , they're not. I'm not there yet. A b o u t half. Often times, the Christian perspective c o m e s out w h e n y o u are thinking critically." (4M) S h e c o n c l u d e d with the following c o m m e n t : " T h e n e e d for critical thinking has b e e n intensified by the nature of today's culture a n d society. It's true for both public s c h o o l s a n d faith-based s c h o o l s , but in a way, e v e n more for us, s o that w e really k n o w w h y w e believe what w e believe." (4M)  75  Summary M r s . J a y e x p e r i e n c e d profound c h a n g e . S h e d e m o n s t r a t e d a r e m a r k a b l e disposition of o p e n n e s s to c h a n g e a n d w a s realistic in expecting the discomforts of "being stretched"; this attitude e m e r g e d a s a condition that supported evolving c o n c e p t u a l a n d procedural clarity during the implementation period. H e r perceived v a l u e and n e e d for teaching critical thinking rose sharply a n d her definition of it m o v e d from v a g u e i d e a s to specific details about the "intellectual tools." In t a n d e m with her growing understanding of the c o n c e p t i o n w e r e s e v e r a l significant c h a n g e s in her teaching practices.  76  CHAPTER FIVE Analysis of the Cases T h i s chapter a n s w e r s the r e s e a r c h question, " H o w d o elementary t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of teaching critical thinking c h a n g e while teaching a unit that exemplifies a n e w critical thinking p e d a g o g y ? " by providing a c a s e a n a l y s i s of M r s . S m i t h , M r s . B l a c k a n d M r s . J a y respectively. H a v i n g outlined their p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, problems e n c o u n t e r e d while, a n d conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking in chapter four, the indicators of c h a n g e in e a c h t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking will now be e x a m i n e d a n d interpreted in terms of factors related to the characteristics of c h a n g e : n e e d , clarity, complexity, a n d quality/practicality of the innovation (Fullan, 2007). This interpretive a c c o u n t a l s o t a k e s into a c c o u n t the s c h o o l context in which t h e s e t e a c h e r s implemented the critical thinking r e s o u r c e s . C h a p t e r five c o n c l u d e s with a c r o s s - c a s e s u m m a r y highlighting c o m m o n a l i t i e s a n d differences a m o n g the c a s e s .  Mrs. Smith "At the beginning I thought critical thinking w a s important a n d n o w I still do. At the beginning I thought it would be e a s y but now I think not." (3N) T h o s e w e r e M r s . S m i t h ' s final w o r d s in the interview that m a r k e d the completion of her Critical Challenges  unit; they neatly scaffold the following a n a l y s i s of her  e x p e r i e n c e of c h a n g e . T h e statement about the importance of critical thinking d e m o n s t r a t e d the stability in her p e r c e i v e d n e e d a n d c o n c e p t u a l clarity of it; her  77  realization that teaching critical thinking w a s not a s e a s y a s s h e e x p e c t e d indicated the c h a n g e s s h e e x p e r i e n c e d in procedural clarity, complexity a n d practicality within the implementation p r o c e s s .  In contrast to her two c o l l e a g u e s participating in this study, M r s . S m i t h exhibited a high s e n s e of perceived n e e d for teaching critical thinking. T h e r e are a few a s p e c t s of that " n e e d " which should be elaborated upon. First, it functioned a s a " r e a d i n e s s factor" (Fullan, 2007) in that s h e did not require any p e r s u a s i v e a r g u m e n t s regarding the merits of the innovation, a n d therefore her c h o i c e to promote critical thinking in her c l a s s r o o m w a s a voluntary a n d internally motivated c h a n g e (as o p p o s e d to a m a n d a t e d or externally motivated one.) A s e c o n d a s p e c t of n e e d is priority—the i s s u e w a s not merely that critical thinking w a s important, but rather, how important.  M r s . Smith explicitly justified her high  d e g r e e of priority on the b a s i s of her p e r s o n a l e x p e r i e n c e — t h e lack of instruction in critical thinking s h e received a s a student. E v a n s (1996) points out that: Desirability d e p e n d s crucially upon dissatisfaction a n d r e l e v a n c e . T o e v e n begin to be o p e n to a c h a n g e , p e o p l e must first be u n h a p p y with the status quo in s o m e w a y a n d must then find the c h a n g e relevant to their c o n c e r n s . Innovation, in other w o r d s , must meet a p e r c e i v e d n e e d in a promising way. (p. 80) Certainly M r s . S m i t h ' s dissatisfaction fueled her obligation a n d d e s i r e to fulfill the s c h o o l ' s vision statement by delivering critical thinking opportunities to the students. Furthermore, her dissatisfaction w a s rooted in a s e n s e of p e r s o n a l l o s s — a factor which w o u l d likely contribute an i n c r e a s e d emotional intensity to the r e l e v a n c e a n d desirability of the innovation.  78  T h e r e is o n e more a s p e c t of M r s . S m i t h ' s perceived n e e d that merits exploration: her p e r s o n a l a w a k e n i n g to the v a l u e of critical thinking. "I w a s a l w a y s taught to believe what I w a s being taught.... T h e n I went to university—this is w h e n I w a s c h a l l e n g e d a n d I realized I n e e d e d critical thinking." (1S) B y her testimony, university w a s the pivot point w h e r e her journey a s a critical thinker b e g a n ; it influenced the formation of both her perceived n e e d a n d c o n c e p t u a l clarity of critical thinking. In contrast to the other two t e a c h e r s , M r s . Smith is a product of a twenty-first century t e a c h e r education program a n d s h e mentioned that s e v e r a l of her university c o u r s e s had taught a n d e v e n promoted a critical thinking orientation for instruction. (4M) M o r e specifically, her S o c i a l S t u d i e s C u r r i c u l u m a n d Methodology c o u r s e u s e d Critical Challenges a n d The Canadian  Anthology  Across  the Curriculum  (1998)  of Social Studies (1997) a s required t e x t b o o k s —  both of t h e s e b o o k s w e r e co-edited by R o l a n d C a s e , o n e of the founders of T C 2 . S h e a l s o confirmed that her professor had s p e c i a l i z e d in critical thinking in her master's thesis a n d doctoral dissertation. Not surprisingly then, M r s . S m i t h ' s e x p o s u r e to critical thinking w a s c o m p r e h e n s i v e , a fact that w a s repeatedly born out in c o m m e n t s that revealed her clarity of the c o n c e p t i o n . B e y o n d a n intellectual understanding of critical thinking, the anthology text featured chapters that promoted critical thinking a s a "way of life" ("Principles of a n Ethic of Critical Thinking", S e a r s & P a r s o n ; "Taking S e r i o u s l y the T e a c h i n g of Critical Thinking", C a s e & Wright). G i v e n the concentrated and c o m p r e h e n s i v e e x p o s u r e to critical thinking at university, it c a n be safely a s s u m e d that M r s . Smith had "bought into" the c o n c e p t i o n a s a t e a c h e r a n d a s an individual a n d that s h e " o w n e d " the  79  sophisticated understanding, p e d a g o g i c a l a p p r o a c h a n d underlying beliefs. S i n c e deeply-held understandings are the most difficult to c h a n g e , the stability of her p u r p o s e for a n d c o n c e p t u a l clarity of critical thinking w a s a logical o u t c o m e .  O n e must c o n s i d e r if M r s . S m i t h ' s recent convictions about critical thinking w e r e too idealistic a n d that the university training, in part, contributed to unrealistic expectations. S h e admitted that s h e w a s expecting "a bed of roses" (4M) a n d instead, s h e b e c a m e entangled in the thorns of the implementation p r o c e s s . Fullan noted that " i n n o v a t i o n s — e v e n promising-looking o n e s — t u r n out to be b u r d e n s in d i s g u i s e " (2001, p. 24). M r s . Smith's e x p e r i e n c e of "unmet e x p e c t a t i o n s " indicated her c h a n g i n g i d e a s a n d ideals regarding the procedural clarity, complexity a n d practicality of teaching critical thinking. Despite her disappointment, her intent to figure out why it b e c a m e b u r d e n s o m e indicated that s h e h a d not a b a n d o n e d her underlying beliefs.  T h e following quotations from the S e p t e m b e r a n d O c t o b e r interviews illustrate the p r o g r e s s i o n in her attempt to ascertain procedural clarity regarding the intellectual tools: "What about the info at the beginning of the Critical  Challenges  g u i d e — t h e tools, e t c . ? D o I t e a c h that? D o w e talk about that before the l e s s o n h a p p e n s or as the l e s s o n h a p p e n s ? That w a s something that w a s never fully clarified. I'm not sure." (1S) O n e c h a n g e is that [teaching critical thinking] turned out to be a lot more challenging for the students than I thought it would b e . . . . Next time I might a p p r o a c h it a different way—start off with teaching the tools first. D e v e l o p my own simple c h a l l e n g e that would simply  80  get them to practice the tools before getting into the content of the unit. In that way, I w o u l d b e expecting to c h a n g e m y practice c o m p a r e d to this first time teaching the unit. ( 2 0 ) T h e s e c o m m e n t s demonstrated that M r s . S m i t h ' s lack of clarity w a s propelling her forward—to m a k e p e d a g o g i c a l d e c i s i o n s that would sustain her abiding p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking.  A s p e c t s of complexity a n d practicality relevant to M r s . S m i t h ' difficulties o c c u r r e d in her struggles with the teaching strategies and u s e of materials. (Fullan, 2007) Certainly the fact that s h e w a s a beginning t e a c h e r w e i g h e d significantly; the reported p r o b l e m s cited in chapter four provided a m p l e e v i d e n c e that s h e b e c a m e b o g g e d down by students' lack of abilities in m a n a g i n g reference materials, their w a n i n g interest and the unexpected extra time required to c o v e r the unit. O n e specific e x a m p l e of a "rookie mistake" c a m e up in a d i s c u s s i o n about student a s s e s s m e n t . M r s . Smith realized that s h e should have looked at the evaluation rubric prior to t e a c h i n g a l e s s o n a n d explaining the a s s i g n m e n t ; s h e knew in hindsight that s h e could h a v e prevented her disappointment in the students' work had s h e b e e n clearer w h e n communicating the expectations. ( 2 0 )  W h e t h e r encountering the m u n d a n e practical problems or the larger theoretical i s s u e s a s s o c i a t e d with implementation of an innovation, r e s e a r c h indicates that the benefit of peer support c a n influence the individuals' e x p e r i e n c e in a positive m a n n e r . M r s . Smith noted this: It would h a v e b e e n helpful to h a v e d o n e it with m o r e c o l l e a g u e s s o that w e could d i s c u s s a n d s h a r e our e x p e r i e n c e s . T h e r e are more  81  variables to look at—learn from o n e another. F o r e x a m p l e , h o w are students in other c l a s s e s reacting to the p r o g r a m ? M r s . B l a c k a n d I talked about the c h a l l e n g e s w e both did. (20) Unfortunately, M r s . Smith w a s four w e e k s a h e a d of M r s . B l a c k in the delivering of the program a n d their collegial c o n v e r s a t i o n s e n d e d up serving M r s . B l a c k more favourably. T h e f o c u s group s e s s i o n s did not a p p e a r to have a n uplifting effect on M r s . Smith either. T h i s w a s d u e to that fact that M r s . Smith a n d M r s . B l a c k w e r e polarized in their c o n c e p t u a l understanding of critical thinking. F o r e x a m p l e , w h e n M r s . Smith referred to the "habits of mind", M r s . B l a c k r e s p o n d e d with a c o m m e n t about undesirable habits in students that "we h a v e to o v e r c o m e . " ( F G 1 S ) W h e n the d i s c u s s i o n turned to the evaluation of students and the u s e of the rubrics, the e x p e r i e n c e d t e a c h e r briefly d e s c r i b e d the a n e c d o t a l s y s t e m s h e had d e v e l o p e d for herself. T h i s proved to be unhelpful in Mrs. Smith's d e e p e r i s s u e s with the unmet expectations s h e w a s experiencing in her c l a s s . A l s o during that f o c u s group s e s s i o n , the chief point of a g r e e m e n t for the two t e a c h e r s w a s on the difficulty of teaching grade five students w h o want to be supplied with the a n s w e r s rather than b e c o m i n g independent thinkers.  Returning to the fact that M r s . Smith w a s a recent university graduate, it must be s a i d that there w a s no t e a c h e r in the s c h o o l , including the administrators, w h o w e r e "on the s a m e p a g e " in terms of teaching critical thinking a c c o r d i n g to the TC2 m o d e l . W h i l e there is no r e a s o n to doubt that M r s . Smith had the support a n d e n c o u r a g e m e n t of principals a n d c o l l e a g u e s , the nature a n d level of that support did not have sufficient " p r e s e n c e " in order to offset her s e n s e of isolation,  82  frustration with the trial-and-error l e s s o n s , the physical a n d emotional "roller c o a s t e r " including the tyranny of the urgent, a n d the d e e p e r disappointment that the Critical Challenges  unit had not met her "perceived n e e d in a promising way."  ( E v a n s , 1996)  M r s . S m i t h started off with e n t h u s i a s m , c o m m i t m e n t a n d c o n f i d e n c e . H e r p e r s o n a l investment translated into high expectations that melted a w a y a s s h e e n c o u n t e r e d the complexities of implementing a sophisticated c o n c e p t i o n . In her c a s e , the p h e n o m e n o l o g y of c h a n g e is b a s e d on her realization that teaching critical thinking contradicted her expectation that "it would be e a s y . " A l t h o u g h it w a s painful to w a k e up to this n e w reality, M r s . Smith sufficiently indicated that the l e s s o n s learned through e x p e r i e n c e will g u i d e her future e n d e a v o r s teaching critical thinking.  Mrs. Black W e k n o w that the implementation of a n innovation is a p r o c e s s of c h a n g e c h a r g e d with complexity a n d that the individual undergoing c h a n g e will e x p e r i e n c e discomfort d u e to lack of clarity regarding the innovation itself, the implementation of it, or both. Therefore, the clarification p r o c e s s in the actual "doing" of the innovation—troublesome a n d uncomfortable in its very nature—is at the heart of c h a n g e . Fullan s a y s , "not e v e r y o n e e x p e r i e n c e s the comforts of f a l s e clarity." (2007, p. 90) In chapter four, the descriptions of what a p p e a r e d to be s u c c e s s f u l , s t u d e n t - e n g a g e d critical thinking l e s s o n s w e r e framed by Mrs.  83  B l a c k ' s post-study c o m m e n t s that reiterated and only minutely e x t e n d e d her prestudy beliefs about the p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, problems e n c o u n t e r e d while, a n d conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking. Virtually no c h a n g e h a p p e n e d ; ultimately, the innovation—a rich and c o m p l e x conception of critical thinking—was not clear to her, nor did s h e realize that there w a s "more to it" during the implementation p r o c e s s .  B e c a u s e M r s . B l a c k had not explored the TC2 m o d e l of critical thinking, a n d d u e to her inclination toward the practicality of a new r e s o u r c e , her false clarity a n d "surface level" adoption of the materials are the prominent features of her c a s e . In a quest for indicators of complexity (that is, the e x p e r i e n c e d difficulties or extent of c h a n g e ) , the following excerpt from the D e c e m b e r interview d e m o n s t r a t e d my efforts to get below the surface a n d a c c e s s M r s . B l a c k ' s thoughts about how s h e m a y have c h a n g e d . I probed using three different questions: R e s e a r c h e r : W e ' v e talked about the students' activities a n d their e n g a g e m e n t with the critical c h a l l e n g e s . But who is Mrs. Black in all of this? In what w a y has participating in this study b e e n a professional learning e x p e r i e n c e for y o u ? Mrs. Black: I r e m e m b e r w h e n the kids recorded all the products m a d e from natural r e s o u r c e s in o n e room of their h o u s e . W h e n it c a m e to the evaluation part, I know that M r s . Smith said that this w a s really hard s o I went through it thoroughly to m a k e sure I k n e w what I w a s d o i n g . . . . T h i s activity is really neat a n d I definitely want to do it a g a i n . . . . A n d I will definitely d o the m a p p i n g activities again. The game w a s so good.... R e s e a r c h e r : D e e p e r than just "what to teach a g a i n , " what have you b e e n learning about yourself a s a t e a c h e r teaching critical thinking? Talk about what you w e r e thinking, not what the kids w e r e doing.  84  Mrs. Black: I've a l w a y s tried to bring critical thinking into my teaching b e c a u s e I think it is important.... I think that e v e n in g r a d e five kids still look up to their t e a c h e r s a n d what y o u s a y s o m e t i m e s is "law"... I've a l w a y s tried to t e a c h critical thinking a n d this e x p e r i e n c e has given m e another w a y to d o it—implement it—and it's given m e more tools to u s e w h i c h is really helpful. Like I said before, you've got s o m u c h to do. S o m u c h marking, s o m u c h p r e p p i n g . . . . I n e e d time for other things. S o Critical Challenges g a v e m e another v a l u a b l e tool. I think I c a n take the ideas, e v e n if I wasn't teaching s o c i a l studies, a n d naturally adapt them to other things a n d that, for m e a s a p r o f e s s i o n a l , is really important. I like r e s o u r c e s that I c a n u s e . R e s e a r c h e r : W a s there ever a point in time w h e n you felt uncomfortable with teaching critical thinking? Anything that m a d e y o u g o " h m m " ? Anything that felt f u z z y or unclear in your m i n d ? Mrs. Black: I don't recall feeling uncomfortable. W h e n I read something a n d I don't quite get it, I a l w a y s go back a n d reread it b e c a u s e I think it's important that if you're going to t e a c h s o m e t h i n g , y o u h a v e to k n o w what you're t e a c h i n g . . . . I don't r e m e m b e r anything in particular that m a d e me go " h u h ? " . . . I can't think of anything in particular that I thought w a s unclear. (4D) T h e r e s p o n s e to the third question verifies the a b s e n c e of complexity in Mrs. B l a c k ' s e x p e r i e n c e a n d thus confirms that no c h a n g e in her c o n c e p t i o n of critical thinking occurred while s h e u s e d the Challenges  Critical  materials.  T h e interview excerpt a b o v e is rich with indicators of false clarity, that is, M r s . B l a c k ' s oversimplification of the innovation. F u n d a m e n t a l to the teaching of critical thinking a c c o r d i n g to the T C 2 m o d e l is the teaching a n d a s s e s s i n g of the intellectual tools. In her r e s p o n s e to the s e c o n d question, s h e referred to the n e w tools s h e acquired through t e a c h i n g the c h a l l e n g e s ; although s h e did not specify what s h e meant by v a l u a b l e  85  tools, it a p p e a r s to be new l e s s o n "ideas", the merits of w h i c h are apparently in their e a s e of u s e a n d transferability to other subjects.  From  this e x a m p l e it is safe to a s s u m e that s h e w a s not referring to the intellectual tools, the cornerstone of the conception. Unlike her c o l l e a g u e s , the essential terms u s e d in the T C 2 materials (background k n o w l e d g e , thinking strategies, criteria for judgment, etc.) w e r e c o n s p i c u o u s l y a b s e n t in M r s . B l a c k ' s vocabulary throughout all the interviews. W h a t w a s "not s a i d " c o u p l e d with the m a n y general c o m m e n t s , v a g u e in describing the concrete c o n n e c t i o n s between the learning activities and the critical thinking conception (Fullan, 2007), revealed her oversimplification of the innovation.  S o m e t i m e s false clarity is e v i d e n c e d w h e n t e a c h e r s respond to a n innovation by saying "we are already doing that" (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , p. 89). T h i s is indeed the c a s e with M r s . B l a c k w h o stated twice that s h e "always tried to t e a c h critical thinking." B y asserting that critical thinking w a s a pre-existing feature of her teaching, her perception of the potential c h a n g e latent in the innovation is comparatively s m a l l and "is b a s e d only on the more superficial goal and content a s p e c t s of the [resource] to the neglect of beliefs and teaching strategies." (Fullan, 2 0 0 7 , p. 90) In M a y , it w a s evident that the false clarity had b e e n sustained: R e s e a r c h e r : W o u l d you s a y that y o u have a n e w w a y of thinking about critical thinking this y e a r ?  86  Mrs. Black: I think s o . It has a l w a y s b e e n important to m e . T h r o u g h t h e s e r e s o u r c e s , it h a s reinforced that what I h a v e b e e n teaching [with critical thinking] in the past has b e e n important. It h a s given s o m e more w a y s that I c a n teach it. (5M) T h e r e is no new w a y of thinking. A c c o r d i n g to her r e a s o n , the present e x p e r i e n c e validated the past a n d a n e w r e s o u r c e e q u i p p e d her with fresh alternatives to a d d to future units.  A s noted earlier, M r s . Smith p o s s e s s e d c o n c e p t u a l clarity a n d ran into difficulties with p r o c e d u r e s . In Mrs. Black, w e s e e the reverse. P r o c e d u r a l clarity trumps c o n c e p t u a l clarity from the very beginning: W h e n I o p e n e d up the Critical Challenges book, I started reading a n d then I s k i p p e d to the next part b e c a u s e it w a s just too m u c h . S o m e t i m e s w h e n it talks about how the book is laid out, it's too m u c h a n d it g o e s on for p a g e after p a g e after p a g e , and after I'm on the fifth p a g e , / just want to see what it is. I don't want to read any more. (1S, e m p h a s i s added) S h e is typical of m a n y t e a c h e r s w h o , w h e n introduced to n e w curriculum, are more interested in answering "what will I have to d o ? " than "what is it?" ( E v a n s , 1996; F u l l a n , 2007) A critical distinction must be m a d e : procedural clarity c a n only be partially a c h i e v e d if it is truncated from c o n c e p t u a l clarity. A c c o r d i n g to the statement a b o v e , the "it" in her desire to know "what it is" w a s the l e s s o n plan. C o n s e q u e n t l y , s h e delivered the l e s s o n s without being cognizant of the underlying m e a n i n g of the p e d a g o g i c a l a p p r o a c h , a highly significant oversight on her part.  87  A s s o m e o n e guided by e x p e r i e n c e a n d observation rather than by theory, M r s . B l a c k ' s s e n s e of practicality of the innovation w a s limited to the pragmatic a s p e c t s of the l e s s o n s . A s the interview excerpt r e v e a l e d , s h e v a l u e d userfriendly r e s o u r c e s , particularly time-efficient o n e s . S h e p r a i s e d the Challenges  Critical  materials on a c c o u n t of their step-by-step p r o c e d u r e s that w e r e e a s y  to follow a n d blackline m a s t e r s from which s h e could pick a n d c h o o s e . (1S) B u s s i s r e s e a r c h e d the distinctions b e t w e e n superficial and d e e p e r m e a n i n g of c h a n g e a n d found that " s o m e t e a c h e r s operated at the level of surface curriculum, focusing on the l e s s o n and s e e i n g that the students w e r e 'busy'" (Fullan, 2 0 0 1 , p. 42). Indeed, M r s . B l a c k c o n s i d e r e d her critical thinking l e s s o n s s u c c e s s f u l a c c o r d i n g to the fact that students w e r e highly e n g a g e d ; benefits that fed her notion of s u c c e s s included on-task group p r o c e s s work a n d the positive f e e d b a c k from parents.  E v a n s points out that practicality a n d n e e d are " c l o s e c o m p a n i o n s . T e a c h e r s must not only want to implement a c h a n g e , they must feel that they c a n a c h i e v e it" ( E v a n s , p. 85). Mrs. B l a c k ' s s e n s e of n e e d , in contrast to M r s . S m i t h ' s "up c l o s e and personal", s e e m e d distant and g e n e r a l . A s w a s mentioned in the previous chapter, the problem of "kids t h e s e d a y s " w h o just "want the a n s w e r s poured into them", whether in her c l a s s r o o m or in society at large, is a prominent t h e m e that tracks its w a y through her statements about the p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking. G i v e n that s h e is disturbed by the problem that students resist being independent thinkers a n d learners, her h o p e s for kids to latch on to critical  88  thinking are not high. Will this critical thinking unit feasibly begin to a d d r e s s the n e e d ? H e r e a g a i n , her s h a l l o w understanding of the conception deprived her of s e e i n g the e v i d e n c e of critical thinking that w a s h a p p e n i n g before her e y e s a s s h e enjoyed being "a fly on the wall". W h e n s h e s p o k e of students w h o naturally "get it" s h e h a s t e n e d to c o m m e n t on the intellectual or behavioral immaturity of others. E v e n w h e n it w a s pointed out that the students w e r e not exhibiting the negative behaviours s h e had anticipated a s problematic while teaching critical thinking, s h e w a s not c o n v i n c e d a n d s u g g e s t e d that the l e s s o n m a y not h a v e fared s o well with a l e s s talkative group of students. (3N) With the innovation r e d u c e d in her mind to the piloting of a new r e s o u r c e , a few n e w l e s s o n i d e a s w e r e not sufficient to "meet a p e r c e i v e d n e e d in a promising way" ( E v a n s , 1996).  In this study, " c h a n g e " on M r s . B l a c k ' s terms w a s about variety in her teaching materials a n d m e t h o d s a n d had very little to do with d e e p e r professional learning. I like the Critical Challenges, however, it could get redundant, that is, lots of paper (photocopying) a n d a lot of d i s c u s s i o n . I would like to t e a c h a unit a n d implement different t a s k s , d i s c u s s i o n s etc. " a s they fit" s o that they don't s e e m forced. It a l s o t a k e s longer to t e a c h a s you n e e d to t e a c h students how to b e h a v e in d i s c u s s i o n s . (5M) I'd like to bring critical thinking into everything a n d I'm trying. That's my g o a l . I a l s o think that the longer y o u t e a c h , the better you get at it. A n d you have e x p e r i e n c e with what works a n d what doesn't. Y o u k e e p c h a n g i n g things a n d making it better a s y o u g o a l o n g . (5M)  89  Mrs. Jay F o r M r s . J a y , c h a n g e b e g a n with vulnerability. Hesitant yet willing, s h e k n e w the cost of her d e c i s i o n to participate in a professional learning opportunity would be a p e r s o n a l stretch. During the p r o c e s s , s h e c a m e to k n o w the rewards for her risk-taking w h e n the benefits for her students outweighed the c o s t s for herself. T h e benefits w e r e there for her also, to the extent that s h e w a s able to d e s c r i b e her involvement in this study a s "a gift". T h e description of her e x p e r i e n c e in chapter four demonstrated that s h e p r o g r e s s e d from a g e n e r a l to a more c o m p l e x conception of critical thinking in terms of its p u r p o s e s , benefits, problems, a n d requisite conditions. In addition, there w a s c o n g r u e n c y b e t w e e n what s h e w a s "learning" a n d what s h e w a s "doing". T w o quotes will b o o k e n d the a n a l y s i s of her c h a n g e in t e r m s of n e e d , clarity, complexity, a n d practicality. Before the study: "To tell y o u the truth, I never really thought that m u c h about the critical thinking part of our mission statement.... M y f o c u s h a s b e e n on the Christ-centred teaching." ( 1 0 ) After the study: "Critical  Challenges  has moved  m e out of my comfort z o n e . It's m a d e m e stop a n d think about what I'm doing a n d w h y I'm doing it. It took a bit of energy—I w a s taking the book h o m e a n d thinking it through b e c a u s e I w a n t e d to d o a g o o d job...." (3D)  Mrs. J a y ' s e x p e r i e n c e reads like a s u c c e s s story b e c a u s e there w a s e v i d e n c e of growth in her perceived n e e d , c o n c e p t u a l and procedural clarity, complexity affecting d e e p l y - h e l d beliefs a n d practices, a n d a g r a s p of the practicality a n d quality of the innovation. Furthermore, this c a s e illustrates how t h e s e four  90  characteristics of c h a n g e operate like a s y s t e m of sympathetic vibrations, e a c h o n e setting off the other in d y n a m i c interactions. It is a l s o helpful to b e a r in mind Fullan's wide angle view of " c h a n g e in practice" a n d the three d i m e n s i o n s involved: n e w materials, n e w teaching a p p r o a c h e s , and altered beliefs (Fullan, 2007). A l t h o u g h a n eight w e e k study is a m e r e sliver of time in the p r o c e s s of c h a n g e , the c o m p l i c a t e d nature of it s u r f a c e s immediately.  A s w e noted with M r s . S m i t h , the understanding of critical thinking that existed before implementing the r e s o u r c e affected the starting point, expectations a n d p r o c e s s of c h a n g e . Mrs. J a y ' s starting point w a s not characterized by c o n f i d e n c e or e n t h u s i a s m but by a disposition of o p e n n e s s to c h a n g e . B y her a d m i s s i o n , s h e w a s never really clear—for over a d e c a d e — a b o u t what critical thinking meant at her s c h o o l . F o r her, the vision statement w a s an external motivation d e v i c e which did not generate any real s e n s e of n e e d to pursue improving her ability to t e a c h critical thinking, e v e n though s h e r e c o g n i z e d that it w a s important that students receive instruction in it. Prominent a d v o c a t e s of critical thinking have for d e c a d e s b e m o a n e d the reality that critical thinking is v a l u e d in rhetoric a n d widely ignored in practice, largely d u e to the lack of direction in how to t e a c h it effectively. ( P a u l , 1 9 9 3 ; C a s e & Wright, 1997) A s F u l l a n o b s e r v e d , m a n y s c h o o l s initiate reform a n d fail to follow through with implementation (2007). R e c a l l from chapter four that M r s . J a y felt s h e lacked any formal training in t e a c h i n g critical thinking a n d s o s h e a n d her c o l l e a g u e s typically u s e d "why" q u e s t i o n s on tests to demonstrate that critical thinking existed in their units.  91  Without a s e n s e of definition or direction on what critical thinking is a n d how we teach it at the s c h o o l , s h e relegated it a s a "distant s e c o n d " a n d f o c u s e d on Christian perspective a s her top priority n e e d . G i v e n that s h e did not k n o w e n o u g h about critical thinking, it follows that her s e n s e of n e e d would be correspondingly low.  T h e questionnaire statements about the p u r p o s e s and benefits of teaching critical thinking offer s o m e insights into how her s e n s e of n e e d e v o l v e d n e c k - o n neck with her increasing clarity. A n interesting trade-off s e e m s to occur. Early o n , t h e s e statements included references to Christian perspective, h o w e v e r t h e s e i d e a s w e r e not present in the post-study questionnaire. F o r e x a m p l e , at the beginning s h e e n v i s i o n e d students a s being independent thinkers, skeptical of the information they received but able to u s e the Bible a s their authoritative guide for responsible living/citizenship. (Questionnaire 1) Later, s h e defined critical thinkers a s students w h o understood i s s u e s d e e p l y a n d w e r e able to m a k e w i s e c h o i c e s in life a s a result of being e q u i p p e d with the intellectual tools s u c h a s empathetically hearing alternate viewpoints, evaluating reliability, supporting with e v i d e n c e , a n d drawing w e l l - r e a s o n e d c o n c l u s i o n s . (Questionnaire 2) P e r h a p s her a m o r p h o u s notion of critical thinking over the y e a r s had allowed her to blend it into her Christian perspective "why q u e s t i o n s " in a n effort to c h a l l e n g e students to think more deeply. "I g u e s s I a l w a y s try to look at Scripture a n d s e e how it fits into the l e s s o n a n d to how w e think critically." ( 1 0 ) At the e n d of the study, a m u c h more d e v e l o p e d description of critical thinking  92  e m e r g e d , no longer entangled with Christian perspective. T h i s is not to s a y that religious truth and authority w e r e no longer important to her. Rather, it d e m o n s t r a t e s what her n e w conception of critical thinking is (a p r o c e s s of thinking) a n d what it is not (an apologetic, that is, a justification of the truth). In M a y , s h e a s s e r t e d that students are best s e r v e d if they k n o w "why they believe" a s o p p o s e d to "what they believe." T h i s understanding led her to a conviction that critical thinking is "far more n e c e s s a r y now than I would have thought before" a n d e s s e n t i a l for students to "survive in society." A significant c h a n g e in her perceived n e e d a n d p u r p o s e for teaching critical thinking i n d e e d . Surely, however, her greater s e n s e of n e e d would not have occurred if it had not b e e n for the increasing clarity of the conception.  " C h a n g e in practice" (Fullan, 2007) in all three d i m e n s i o n s w a s evident after M r s . J a y delivered two l e s s o n s in her first critical c h a l l e n g e . S h e r e c o g n i z e d that t h e s e materials demanded  more of her students—not  only to a n s w e r "why" but  then to provide quality r e a s o n s to support their v i e w s — " t h e extra step!" ( 1 0 ) T h i s s e e d l i n g notion that critical thinking involved justification of opinions, supporting e v i d e n c e or w e l l - r e a s o n e d c o n c l u s i o n s steadily grew throughout the implementation p r o c e s s . B y the e n d of the study s h e w a s definitely establishing a n e w standard in her instruction which included intentionally allowing students greater "think time" and automatically calling on them to qualify their a n s w e r s . In this s e c o n d e x a m p l e , s h e realized that the critical c h a l l e n g e s demanded her.  more of  "I'm not the filter for their i d e a s — t h e peers are. I a m experiencing a n e w  93  style of t e a c h i n g , but it's g o o d for m e to be stretched." ( 1 0 ) T h e benefits of small group work that s h e w i t n e s s e d in the s e c o n d l e s s o n w e r e s u c h a positive revelation that they outweighed the cost of relinquishing her control. By D e c e m b e r s h e w a s praising the a d v a n t a g e s of i n c r e a s e d small group work b e c a u s e it had given all students i n c r e a s e d "microphone time." (3D) Both t h e s e e x a m p l e s illustrated the power of a positive first i m p r e s s i o n w h e n a t e a c h e r attempts something new a n d , more importantly, the likelihood that the c h a n g e will be s u s t a i n e d if the immediate reward is the proof and/or potential of improved student learning. ( E v a n s , 1996; Fullan, 2007) T h e s e two e x a m p l e s a l s o s h o w how c o n c e p t u a l a n d procedural clarity interactively e v o l v e d . T h e catalyst for the c h a n g e w a s the n e w book that n u d g e d this veteran t e a c h e r out of her "comfort z o n e . " But a s w a s evident in M r s . B l a c k ' s c a s e , the implementation of a l e s s o n a l o n e d o e s not go the distance; the s e c o n d e s s e n t i a l ingredient for " c h a n g e in practice" is the t e a c h e r ' s reflective thinking about what is being d o n e . Challenges  "Critical  has m a d e m e stop a n d think about what I'm doing a n d w h y I'm doing  it." (3D) T h e self-evaluation s h e w a s e n g a g e d in indicated that c h a n g e s w e r e occurring in her beliefs about critical thinking. O v e r the c o u r s e of eight w e e k s , the key w o r d s of critical thinking b e c a m e part of the c l a s s r o o m vernacular, extending b e y o n d the boundary of s o c i a l studies l e s s o n s . T h e n it d a w n e d on Mrs. J a y that her a s s e s s m e n t of students' progress would n e e d to k e e p p a c e with the c h a n g e s the c l a s s w a s e x p e r i e n c i n g ; for the first time in her career, s h e included a c o m m e n t about e a c h student's p r o g r e s s in critical thinking in the report c a r d s . During the winter a n d spring following the study, s h e revised her  94  unit tests s i n c e "the typical w h y q u e s t i o n " no longer reflected her new understanding of critical thinking. Clearly, the s o u r c e for the c h a n g e s s h e m a d e in a s s e s s m e n t w a s the innovation, not the Critical Challenges  book.  C o m p l e x i t y h a s to d o with the nature a n d extent of the c h a n g e a s it is e x p e r i e n c e d by the individual. T h e discomfort of d e e p e r c h a n g e is felt w h e n core beliefs are being c h a l l e n g e d ; there w e r e three i s s u e s that hit a nerve for M r s . J a y . T h e first comfort z o n e to e n c o u n t e r disruption w a s the m o v e from teacherguided to student-centred l e s s o n s ; a s already mentioned, s h e w a s forced to w e i g h the c o s t s a n d benefits of sacrificing her usual role of control in critical thinking d i s c u s s i o n s . A s e c o n d inner battle had to do with curriculum content: her well-established priority of covering the c o u r s e material w a s threatened by the additional time n e e d e d to deliver the unit with a critical thinking perspective. S h e c o n c l u d e d that critical thinking did not d i s p l a c e a content-rich unit, but rather, heightened the m e a n i n g of the k n o w l e d g e . Thirdly, s h e s a i d , "I'm unraveling" w h e n s h e r e a c h e d the midpoint of the study. W h i l e d i s c u s s i n g the reliability of information s o u r c e s , the students q u e s t i o n e d her core belief regarding biblical authority. " W h e n I s a i d , 'This is the inspired W o r d of G o d , ' the kids a s k e d , 'What d o e s that really m e a n ? H o w d o y o u k n o w it is absolute truth?'" H e r r e s p o n s e w a s "I actually find it challenging. I'm on the e d g e but thinking that it's e a s i e r to be here." (2N) Resolution to this inner conflict w a s not swift a n d sure a n d s h e c h o s e to live with ambiguity, honestly answering her students' questions, e v e n if the a n s w e r w a s "I don't know". W h a t liberates her to hang in the b a l a n c e is her  95  vision for students w h o raise the difficult questions: "It's s u c h a huge part of learning! ... W e want them to be critical thinkers." ( 2 0 )  T h e r e is a l s o complexity to be found in the practical, e v e r y d a y outworking of the innovation. F o r M r s . S m i t h , it w a s the s e e m i n g l y s m a l l wrinkles that w r e a k e d h a v o c , but for M r s . J a y a n d M r s . B l a c k e x p e r i e n c e c o m e s to the r e s c u e . A l l three t e a c h e r s had i s s u e s with pacing the unit, waning student interest a n d group p r o c e s s . T h e w a y in w h i c h M r s . J a y negotiated the problems of practicality d e m o n s t r a t e d mutual adaptation with regards to the materials a n d her t e a c h i n g practices ( M c L a u g h l i n , 2004). That is, the d e c i s i o n s a n d adjustments s h e m a d e over time revealed a two-way p r o c e s s of the materials c h a n g i n g her teaching a n d her modifications of the materials. F o r e x a m p l e , s h e altered student reference materials a n d c h o s e to d o more activities with chart paper a n d markers b e c a u s e this e n a b l e d a c a d e m i c a l l y struggling students to participate more s u c c e s s f u l l y . In her student a s s e s s m e n t s , s h e c h o s e to rely more heavily o n the e v i d e n c e of critical thinking s h e w i t n e s s e d in their oral work rather than the u s e of written work a n d evaluation rubric a s the final test. Excellent e x a m p l e s of how the materials c h a n g e d her are the acquisition of the critical thinking l a n g u a g e a n d the inclusion of "wait time."  Highly unique to M r s . J a y w a s her capacity for c h a n g e . T h e c o s t s a n d benefits w e r e constantly being w e i g h e d a n d , remarkably, s h e opted for the tough c h o i c e s . T h e r e s e a r c h regarding the extent of professional c h a n g e in e x p e r i e n c e d  96  t e a c h e r s s h o w s the opposite o u t c o m e ( E v a n s , 1996; M c L a u g h l i n & M a r s h , 1990) a n d therefore her c a s e s t a n d s out c o n s p i c u o u s l y a s a refreshing a n d optimistic story. T h i s a n a l y s i s would not be complete without a g l a n c e at what would a c c o u n t for the s u c c e s s in this narrow w i n d o w of time. S h e w a s c o n s c i e n t i o u s in doing her homework. W h e n the resource stopped her in her tracks, s h e took the book h o m e . Certainly her expectation of p e r s o n a l c h a n g e b e c a m e a self-fulfilling prophecy. B y being o p e n to c h a n g e , her vulnerability led to a s e r i e s of relinquishments in her practice a n d s o m e beliefs. O n e belief in particular w a s c h a l l e n g e d a n d s u s p e n d e d (i.e., questioning the authority of the Bible), a n d there did not a p p e a r to be angst over this, but rather, exhilaration about being o n the e d g e of growth. T h e r e w a s o n e belief that went u n c h a l l e n g e d — M r s . J a y d e e p l y v a l u e s "the v o i c e of the child." S o m e t i m e s I shut the blinds, light a c a n d l e , get comfortable with feet up on our d e s k s a n d w e have "conversations" a n d a n y b o d y c a n s a y what they want; it's quiet a n d dark—the kids r e s p o n d . T h e y request "light the c a n d l e " times. ( 1 0 )  Unlike her c o l l e a g u e s w h o a l s o noted the importance of a respectful c l a s s climate, her priority on establishing a s a f e environment for honest dialogue motivated her to go the extra mile. T h e r e w a s a m p l e e v i d e n c e of this in chapter four regarding conditions requisite for critical thinking. T h e difference b e t w e e n her first a n d s e c o n d questionnaire r e s p o n s e s is significant e n o u g h to recapitulate. Prior to the study s h e cited a socially, emotionally a n d intellectually s e c u r e c l a s s r o o m climate a s the s o l e condition; after the study, her list of conditions maintained her former point a n d a d d e d the explicit teaching of thinking  97  strategies a n d intellectual tools. Therefore, a s s h e learned more about teaching critical thinking, s h e s a w its potential for extending the v o i c e of her students. T h e following quote illustrates the dissatisfaction that drove her n e e d for the students to be heard in conjunction with the n e e d for critical thinking: M y parents w e r e very authoritarian; w e weren't a s k e d our opinions. W e just did what w e w e r e s u p p o s e d to d o a n d there wasn't that level of c o m m u n i c a t i o n . O u r generation is different a n d t h e s e kids are in the next o n e — h e a d i n g into a p o s t m o d e r n , pluralistic s o c i e t y — a n d that d o e s m a k e critical thinking n e c e s s a r y . ( 1 0 )  T h e final a n e c d o t e alludes to o n e more distinctive a s p e c t of M r s . J a y ' s c a s e , o n e that begins to s h o w s i g n s that, under supportive conditions, the c l a s s r o o m c a n b e c o m e a critical thinking learning community: I s p e n d more time just d i s c u s s i n g things with the kids. I u s e d to think this w a s just a w a s t e of time. J u s t talking with them a n d letting them have a v o i c e . But w h e n I d o that, I'm a l w a y s a m a z e d at the r i c h n e s s that's there. A n d I k n o w that y e a r s a g o w h e n I w a s at this s c h o o l , there w a s this t e a c h e r w h o w a s c l o s e to retiring a n d he a l w a y s talked about the d i s c u s s i o n s he had with his children. A n d I thought, "Well, you n e e d to t e a c h antonyms a n d s y n o n y m s a n d all those things." A n d he s a i d , "They will create their o w n path of their own learning to that which is more meaningful to them." But now I c a n s e e what he w a s s a y i n g : that there are t h o s e things that are s o meaningful that they are worth the time. W e ' r e s o bound by covering of the curriculum. But to teach critical thinking is to allow them the freedom to explore their ideas. (4M)  Conclusion T h e three c a s e s of c h a n g e w e r e distinct in and of t h e m s e l v e s . F o r M r s . S m i t h , little c h a n g e w a s e x p e r i e n c e d in perceived n e e d a n d c o n c e p t u a l clarity. H e r c h a n g e s in procedural clarity, complexity a n d practicality c o m e a s no surprise b e c a u s e s h e w a s  98  a beginning teacher. Inhabited by false clarity, M r s . B l a c k adopted s o m e practical i d e a s but e n c o u n t e r e d negligible c h a n g e in her perceived n e e d , clarity a n d complexity of the innovation. M r s . J a y e n c o u n t e r e d a c o m p l i c a t e d p r o c e s s b e c a u s e s h e f a c e d c h a n g e s in p e r c e i v e d n e e d , clarity, complexity, a n d practicality simultaneously. Of the four factors affecting implementation of a n innovation, the dominant characteristic of c h a n g e that wielded its force throughout the c a s e s w a s clarity. A n d while the a s p e c t s of conceptual a n d procedural clarity w e r e vital to t h e s e c a s e s , the role of the other three characteristics of c h a n g e w a s not d i m i n i s h e d . All four are interactive; it w a s the coupling of clarity with n e e d , complexity a n d practicality that positioned clarity a s the prevailing force in the t e a c h e r s ' e x p e r i e n c e d c h a n g e s . A s Fullan rightly c o n t e n d s , the d e v e l o p m e n t of clarity in relation to a n e w idea is the crux of c h a n g e (2007, p. 104). E a c h t e a c h e r n e e d e d greater definition a n d direction on what critical thinking is a n d how to teach it at their s c h o o l . A n understanding of what it is nor would h a v e a l s o b e e n beneficial in their context.  O v e r time, c h a n g e s in t h e s e four factors occurred through two m e a n s : attempts to u s e the innovation and d i s c u s s i o n . First, clarity-by-doing. F u n d a m e n t a l to the t e a c h e r s ' evolving understanding of the critical thinking conception w e r e the routine activities of reading, planning, l e s s o n execution, a n d reflecting. T h e extent to which e a c h t e a c h e r e n g a g e d in t h e s e t a s k s a c c o u n t s in part for the variation in c o n c e p t u a l a n d procedural clarity between them. F o r e x a m p l e , M r s . J a y took Critical Challenges  h o m e to read a n d plan, w h e r e a s M r s . Black did not  99  read the theoretical information provided in the introduction. T e a c h e r s c o m e to know something by doing it, that is, through experimenting in their practice. S e c o n d l y , clarity-by-conversation. D i s c u s s i o n e n a b l e s t h o s e encountering c h a n g e to identify with, support a n d learn from o n e another. M r s . Smith had m u c h to offer her c o l l e a g u e s in terms of theoretical understandings of the innovation a n d m u c h to gain from the others' experiential knowledge. M r s . Black, in n e e d of enlightenment regarding the innovation, would have benefited from hearing the progressive revelation that w a s occurring for M r s . J a y . F o r the veteran teacher, modeling her reflective thinking through d i s c u s s i o n would h a v e b e e n useful for her c o l l e a g u e s . T h e simple act of verbalization afforded her increasing clarity a n d the consolidation of ideas. Only M r s . Smith cited collegial c o n v e r s a t i o n a s a condition that supported teaching critical thinking; to figure s o m e t h i n g out, it helps to talk it through with s o m e o n e w h o is in the s a m e p r o c e s s . In this study, however, the t e a c h e r s did relatively little talking about their e x p e r i e n c e s a m o n g t h e m s e l v e s . T h e y b e g a n their units at different start times, roughly three w e e k s apart. A n orientation w o r k s h o p prior to the implementation of the materials w a s not held a n d the f o c u s group s e s s i o n s had mixed results. Talking to the r e s e a r c h e r w a s the foremost w a y in w h i c h the t e a c h e r s w e r e free to conversationally work through the "highs a n d lows" they were encountering in the Critical Challenges  unit. R e s e a r c h b e a r s out that the  optimal w a y for t e a c h e r s to undergo c h a n g e is to talk their w a y through it while they are doing it. (Fullan, 2007)  100  A n o t h e r t h e m e that e m e r g e s from the c a s e s is that a teacher's motivation to c h a n g e is s h a p e d by o n g o i n g perceptions of c o s t s a n d benefits. A l l three t e a c h e r s w e r e p l e a s e d with the resource from a practicality standpoint a n d d e c l a r e d that they would definitely u s e it a g a i n . Therefore, the motivation to continue with the materials/innovation implies that their understanding of the c o s t s involved in implementation had b e e n s u p e r c e d e d by benefits e x p e r i e n c e d thus far. S o m e of the c o s t s that e m e r g e d in this study w e r e : a lack of time, feelings of c o n f u s i o n , a p p r e h e n s i o n s about parent reactions, declining student interest, unmet expectations, working a l o n e (isolation), monitoring group p r o c e s s , a n d relinquishing control. T h e benefits that contributed to their understanding that the c h a n g e w a s worthwhile included: student learning, interest a n d e n g a g e m e n t , the interest a n d support of parents, a n d a d e e p e n i n g v a l u e for the s c h o o l ' s vision statement.  T h e s c h o o l context cannot be ignored. All three felt the impact of the vision statement in their own unique w a y s , h o w e v e r M r s . J a y felt that s h e e n c o u n t e r e d potentially colliding worldviews. Is it p o s s i b l e for critical thinking a s a n "ethic" or w a y of life ( S e a r s a n d P a r s o n s , 1997)—the underlying belief of the T C 2 m o d e l — to coexist with biblical worldview? M r s . J a y w a s on her w a y to building a c l a s s r o o m community of critical thinkers without c o m p r o m i s i n g her d e e p conviction that her c l a s s r o o m is a Christian learning community.  Her question  about the fit of critical thinking in relation to apologetics, though, is a matter that n e e d s to surface in constructive collegial dialogue within the s c h o o l . With s u c h a  101  rich conception of critical thinking, the ongoing task of clarifying its implications paramount at both the individual a n d community level.  102  CHAPTER SIX Summary and Discussion T h i s chapter briefly s u m m a r i z e s the p u r p o s e , method a n d c o n c l u s i o n s of the study a n d then d i s c u s s e s s o m e implications for curriculum materials a n d further research.  Summary T h e p u r p o s e of this study w a s to a n s w e r this question: " H o w d o elementary t e a c h e r s ' c o n c e p t i o n s of teaching critical thinking c h a n g e while teaching a unit that exemplifies a n e w critical thinking p e d a g o g y ? " T h r e e intermediate t e a c h e r s in o n e s c h o o l r e s p o n d e d to pre a n d post questionnaires, a n d participated in a s e r i e s of individual a n d f o c u s group interviews held at the beginning, middle a n d e n d of the unit's implementation period ( S e p t e m b e r to D e c e m b e r , 2006). Data regarding indicators of c h a n g e w e r e collected in e a c h t e a c h e r ' s descriptions of her p e r c e i v e d p u r p o s e s for, benefits of, problems e n c o u n t e r e d while, and conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking over a n eight w e e k time frame. Attention w a s a l s o given to context b e c a u s e it w a s a faith-based independent s c h o o l which incorporated teaching critical thinking into its vision statement.  It w a s found that t e a c h e r s e x p e r i e n c e d c h a n g e along four criteria: perceived need a n d priority for teaching critical thinking, clarity in both c o n c e p t u a l a n d procedural a s p e c t s of the c o n c e p t i o n , the nature a n d extent of  103  complexity  e x p e r i e n c e d while using the resource materials, a n d the practicality  of the  materials and m e t h o d s in which the critical thinking c o n c e p t i o n w a s e m b e d d e d . T h e three c a s e s w e r e distinct: the enthusiastic first-year t e a c h e r w h o p o s s e s s e d a sophisticated understanding of the conception c h a n g e d in her understanding of practicality a n d complexity a s s h e e n c o u n t e r e d practical p r o b l e m s a n d unmet expectations; the e x p e r i e n c e d t e a c h e r did not attain clarity of the critical thinking c o n c e p t i o n resulting in superficial c h a n g e regarding the practicality a n d complexity of the resource; the veteran t e a c h e r e x p e r i e n c e d c h a n g e along all four criteria w h i c h c o n s e q u e n t l y altered her definition, teaching practices a n d beliefs about critical thinking. Of the four interactive criteria which affected the c h a n g e p r o c e s s , clarity e m e r g e d a s the dominant factor; m e a n s of achieving clarity w e r e attempted through the u s e of the materials a n d s o m e d i s c u s s i o n . For all three, the motivation to u s e the resource again w a s s h a p e d by their perceptions that the benefits for students outweighed the c o s t s for t e a c h e r s . T h e y a l s o s h a r e d the v a l u e that teaching critical thinking in t a n d e m with their faith perspective w a s highly beneficial in promoting students' lifelong learning.  E v i d e n c e of s u c c e s s f u l c h a n g e w a s a l s o s e e n in the u s e of intellectual tools in other subject a r e a s . T h e m o s t overt s i g n s w e r e the inclusion of critical thinking v o c a b u l a r y within c l a s s r o o m d i s c u s s i o n s a n d the requirement that the criteria underlying judgments be m a d e explicit. T h e latter w a s e v i d e n c e d by allowing students more "think time" before voicing a n a n s w e r or opinion a n d then pursuing the justifications for their i d e a s . F o r o n e teacher, i n c r e a s e d time spent on critical  104  thinking triggered n e w p e r s p e c t i v e s on student a s s e s s m e n t a c r o s s the subjects a n d her testing practices w e r e modified. O n e of the habits of mind that w a s v a l u e d a n d f o c u s e d on by all the t e a c h e r s w a s sensitivity to the feelings of others.  Barriers to the desired c h a n g e w e r e a l s o present. F o r all three t e a c h e r s , the lack of d i s c u s s i o n with others during the p r o c e s s contributed to feelings of isolation. Further, prior c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking w e r e powerful e n o u g h to obstruct c h a n g e s in understanding; in two c a s e s , the resistance to giving up prior ideas contributed to lack of clarity around the n e w c o n c e p t i o n .  Discussion E v e n though this study occurred in a n independent s c h o o l , the findings are relevant to both public a n d independent s c h o o l s . Currently the Challenges  Across  the Curriculum  Critical  s e r i e s is of interest in the broader context of  British C o l u m b i a a n d other jurisdictions. During the past d e c a d e , the Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m w a s the birthplace of a n updated a n d u p g r a d e d view of critical thinking that then b e c a m e incorporated into Ministry of E d u c a t i o n d o c u m e n t s in British C o l u m b i a (Darling a n d Wright, 2 0 0 4 , p. 249). F o r e x a m p l e , n e w curriculum for s o c i a l studies to be implemented in all public a n d independent s c h o o l s c o m m e n c i n g S e p t e m b e r 2 0 0 8 contains a s h a r p e n e d f o c u s on the teaching of critical thinking (Ministry, 2006). T h i s indicates that the Challenges  Critical  will continue to be v i e w e d a s favoured r e s o u r c e s enabling t e a c h e r s ,  105  s c h o o l s a n d districts to meet the curricular g o a l s for student learning, a n d will c o m e into the h a n d s of more t e a c h e r s at all g r a d e l e v e l s — t e a c h e r s w h o represent a wide range of p r e c o n c e p t i o n s about what critical thinking is a n d how to t e a c h it. S o m e will have the opportunity to explore the materials a n d the e m b e d d e d conception of critical thinking through professional d e v e l o p m e n t s e m i n a r s , but m a n y will not. T h e ideal conditions prior to a n d during the implementation of this particular conception are often b e y o n d a Ministry's or s c h o o l district's control. Yet, u n l e s s a t e a c h e r b e c o m e s a w a r e of the conception of critical thinking e m b o d i e d in the materials, s h e will remain oblivious to its implications (i.e., complexities). T h e Critical  Challenges  require m u c h of a  t e a c h e r if there is to be growth in the intended way. O b v i o u s l y there must be a willingness a n d o p e n - m i n d e d n e s s to experiment with the materials a n d t e a c h i n g m e t h o d s , a n d a tolerance for ambiguity w h i c h inevitably a p p e a r s w h e n " s o m e t h i n g " is unclear or u n e x p e c t e d . But more d e m a n d i n g still, the Challenges  Critical  require a commitment to thoroughly study the materials for the  e m b o d i e d c o n c e p t i o n ; the materials are not intended a s immediate l e s s o n plans a n d student activities s o m u c h a s e x e m p l a r s of a conception.  T h i s study therefore raises a n important question about the a p p r o a c h to fostering t e a c h e r c h a n g e implicit within the T C 2 materials. T h e y are d e s i g n e d to c o n v e y to t e a c h e r s a n understanding of critical thinking in two w a y s : the conception is first explained in e a c h b o o k ' s introductory p a r a g r a p h s followed by an extensive e x e m p l a r of a n instructional unit. T h e foreword provides the c o n c e p t u a l  106  foundation for the exemplar, a n d the e x e m p l a r illustrates what the conception m e a n s for c l a s s r o o m practice. T h e underlying belief is that through studying a n d using the stand-alone materials, t e a c h e r s c a n acquire the conception. T h e point of the materials is t e a c h e r d e v e l o p m e n t rather than the provision of p r e - m a d e teaching l e s s o n s . But how realistic is this a p p r o a c h to c h a n g e ? T h e c a s e s of Mrs. Black a n d M r s . J a y s u g g e s t that further support is n e c e s s a r y . S o m e T C 2 publications s u c h a s Critical Students  Challenges  in Social Studies  for Junior  High  ( C a s e , Daniels & S c h w a r t z , 1996) included a n introductory e s s a y a n d  d i a g r a m s to a s s i s t t e a c h e r s ' understanding of the conception a n d its p e d a g o g i c a l a p p r o a c h . However, the abbreviated version of the introduction found in o n e of the b o o k s u s e d during this r e s e a r c h study limited the at-hand reference information participants could turn to for clarification. Unfortunately it cannot be a s s u m e d that t e a c h e r s (such a s M r s . Black) w h o receive t h e s e materials will r e a d the introduction to acquaint t h e m s e l v e s with the c o n c e p t i o n or that they will h a v e a n opportunity to attend a n orientation w o r k s h o p . T h e c o m m o n frontloaded professional d e v e l o p m e n t a p p r o a c h which c o n s i s t s of information s e m i n a r s prior to implementation of the materials m a y be more helpful but is a l s o flawed by its d e t a c h m e n t of theory a n d practice. T h e c a s e of M r s . Smith compellingly s u g g e s t s that e v e n with e x t e n s i v e k n o w l e d g e about the c o n c e p t i o n prior to using the materials, further clarity about the conception e v o l v e s w h e n theory a n d practice meet, thus m a k i n g ongoing a n d just-in-time support n e c e s s a r y . A rich conception of critical thinking is not adequately c o n v e y e d  107  through using the materials alone; a n ongoing t e a c h e r learning p r o c e s s must be anticipated a n d supported.  T h i s study r a i s e s a caution about a generalization in the literature on t e a c h e r c h a n g e : the more e x p e r i e n c e d the teacher, the less likely s h e m a y voluntarily e n g a g e in significant instructional c h a n g e ( M a c L a u g h l i n a n d M a r s h , 1990; E v a n s , 1996). But the t e a c h e r of twenty-eight y e a r s e m e r g e d a s the most changeful in the intended w a y a n d it is worthwhile to attend to s o m e factors that m a y a c c o u n t for the a n o m a l y . T h e initial gate to c h a n g e is willingness  to d i s c u s s a n d  experiment with the n e w materials. T h e more a d v a n c e d o n e m a y be in her career, though, the less appealing the commitment m a y be b e c a u s e it implies walking a w a y from the comforts of familiarity, forfeiting favourite materials a n d m e t h o d s a n d then facing the practical c o s t s of working harder a n d longer. W h a t w e r e s o m e pre-existing "first step factors" that a p p e a r to have motivated willingness in M r s . J a y ? T h e list includes: a disposition of o p e n n e s s to c o n s i d e r c h a n g e , including a n internal dialogue "routine" w h e r e b y s h e systematically c o m b a t s her resistance to n e w i d e a s ; a hesitation to participate b a s e d on her "realistic projections", including a n e x p e c t a n c y of discomfort a n d a conviction that being stretched is a g o o d thing; a belief that s h e t e a c h e s to s e r v e the best interests of her students a n d a trust in the administrators w h o e n d o r s e d this project; a realization that her capacity for c h a n g e h a s i n c r e a s e d in recent y e a r s a n d a greater commitment to exploring n e w i d e a s through professional reading d u e to availability of time in the e v e n i n g now that her children are young adults;  108  k n o w l e d g e (and s o m e guilt) that s h e had not given the teaching of critical thinking the priority s h e felt it d e s e r v e d for over a d e c a d e a n d a n a d m i s s i o n that s h e had never b e e n very c l e a r on what critical thinking entailed; a n d prayer a s part of her deliberations before consenting to participate in this study. T h i s list s u g g e s t s that there m a y be more variables than the finding of the R a n d study which c l a i m e d that the most powerful attribute of e x p e r i e n c e d t e a c h e r s that stimulated their participation in professional growth w a s self-efficacy ( M a c L a u g h l i n a n d M a r s h , 1990, p. 224). M r s . J a y ' s c l a s s r o o m context (a larger proportion of students with lower a c a d e m i c ability), a n d her perception that student benefits outweighed the c o s t s , demonstrated the p r e s e n c e of selfefficacy. Logically, self-efficacy would be a positive motivator during the implementation a n d sustaining p h a s e s of c h a n g e w h e n the t e a c h e r p e r c e i v e s the potential for or begins to witness student benefits. But d o e s it h a v e the s a m e motivational force a s a "first step factor" to convert a w e a k s e n s e of p e r c e i v e d n e e d into a c t i o n ? A r g u a b l y , other factors a l o n g s i d e self-efficacy contribute to a veteran t e a c h e r ' s willingness to e n g a g e in c h a n g e . T h e c a s e of Mrs. J a y calls attention to admirable virtues cultivated over time that mark her maturity a s a n educator: humility, honesty, trust, a n d most notably, her c o u r a g e to c h o o s e change.  T h e r e is an implication for faith-based independent s c h o o l s . T h e T C 2 conception of critical thinking promotes an ethic consisting of principles that potentially p o s e c h a l l e n g e s for faith-based learning communities. F o r e x a m p l e , the principles that  109  k n o w l e d g e is not fixed a n d is subject to c h a n g e or that critical thinking n e c e s s i t a t e s a skeptical attitude m a y threaten a community's beliefs about the nature of truth a n d authority; the promotion of empathy for alternative worldviews m a y a l s o initially be p e r c e i v e d a s confrontational ( E v a n s a n d H u n d e y , 2 0 0 4 , p. 230). A s o n e might a s s u m e , independent s c h o o l s p l a c e c o n s i d e r a b l e e m p h a s i s on "underlying beliefs", primarily b e c a u s e t h e s e beliefs are what motivated t h e m to b e c o m e alternatives to public s c h o o l i n g in the first p l a c e ; however, t e a c h e r s ' beliefs about critical thinking in this study did c h a n g e — m o s t evident in the reshaping of their p e r c e i v e d n e e d s a n d p u r p o s e s for teaching critical thinking. A l l three felt that their faith a n d critical thinking were c o m p l e m e n t a r y but to varying d e g r e e s . T h e isolation felt w h e n o n e t e a c h e r initially p e r c e i v e d incompatibility b e t w e e n her religious beliefs a n d critical thinking points to the n e e d for o n g o i n g d i s c u s s i o n within her s c h o o l context. A collective understanding of what critical thinking is, what it is not, a n d how to teach it could offer m u c h more than clarification. It has the potential of providing collegial support through a n ongoing p r o c e s s toward s h a r e d m e a n i n g .  Further r e s e a r c h could e x a m i n e the role of l a n g u a g e in facilitating a n d hindering h o w t e a c h e r s c o m e to interpret a n d implement a conception of critical thinking. T w o of the t e a c h e r s initially s p o k e of critical thinking in terms of "skills" w h e r e a s the third referred to thinking "tools." T h e former f o c u s e d on students knowing "how to" do something (e.g., p r o c e d u r e s for conducting a n inclusive group d i s c u s s i o n ) rather than on the c o n c e p t i o n . T h e latter had a sophisticated  110  understanding of critical thinking which e n a b l e d her to differentiate it from "general thinking" or " d e e p e r thinking." T o s o m e d e g r e e , word c h o i c e is the issue, but it is more than s e m a n t i c s a n d it s e e m s e s p e c i a l l y pertinent to elementary t e a c h e r s . In the s a m e w a y that the term "critical thinking" is s o m e t i m e s u s e d a s a catch-all for describing thinking-very-hard, the word "skill" is a l s o a victim of false clarity a n d over-generalized by t e a c h e r s at the lower g r a d e s w h e r e the transition to a more p r o c e s s - m i n d e d a p p r o a c h to educating students h a s popularized a nebulous notion that learning is predominantly a continuum of skill d e v e l o p m e n t . C o n s e q u e n t l y , w o r d s s u c h a s memory, observation a n d evaluation lose their status a s stand-alone c o n c e p t s a n d have the word "skills" t a c k e d onto them. T h e intentionality of the Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m in articulating what critical thinking is not in relation to the word "skill" o p e n s a d o o r for further investigation regarding the "de-skilling" of critical thinking a n d , more generally, an accounting for the proliferation of "skills talk" in elementary s c h o o l s today ( C a s e a n d Wright, 1997).  Ill  REFERENCES Bailin, S . , C a s e , R., C o o m b s , J . , & D a n i e l s , L. (1993, S e p t e m b e r ) . A conception of critical thinking for curriculum, instruction a n d a s s e s s m e n t . U n p u b l i s h e d report to E x a m i n a t i o n s B r a n c h , Ministry of E d u c a t i o n , Victoria, British Columbia. Bailin, S . , C a s e , R., C o o m b s , J . , & D a n i e l s , L. (1999a). C o m m o n m i s c o n c e p t i o n s of critical thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 2 6 9 - 2 8 3 . Bailin, S . , C a s e , R., C o o m b s , J . , & Daniels, L. (1999b). C o n c e p t u a l i z i n g critical thinking. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(3), 2 8 5 - 3 0 2 . C a s e , R. (Ed.). (2004). Critical challenges across the curriculum: Caring for young people's rights. R i c h m o n d , B C : T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m . C a s e , R. & Clark, P. (Eds.). (1997). The Canadian anthology of social studies: Issues and strategies for teachers. Burnaby, B C : Field R e l a t i o n s a n d T e a c h e r In-service E d u c a t i o n , Faculty of E d u c a t i o n , S i m o n F r a s e r University. C a s e , R. & D a n i e l s , L. (2003). Introduction to the TC2 conception of critical thinking. V a n c o u v e r , B C : T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m . http://tc2.ca/about/about-critical-thinkinq/. C a s e , R., D a n i e l s , L , & S c h w a r t z , P. (Eds.). (1996). Critical challenges in social studies for junior high students. R i c h m o n d , B C : T h e Critical Thinking Consortium. C a s e , R. & Misfeldt, C . (Eds.). (2002). Critical challenges across the curriculum: Managing our natural wealth. Victoria, B C : Ministry of E d u c a t i o n . C a s e , R., & Wright, I. (1997). T a k i n g 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). B u r n a b y , B C : Field R e l a t i o n s a n d T e a c h e r In-service E d u c a t i o n , Faculty of E d u c a t i o n , S i m o n F r a s e r University. C r e s w e l l , J . (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research five traditions. T h o u s a n d O a k s , C A : S a g e .  design:  Choosing  among  Darling, L. F. & Wright, I. (2004). Critical thinking a n d the " s o c i a l " in s o c i a l studies. In A . S e a r s & I. Wright (Eds.), Challenges & prospects for Canadian social studies (pp. 247-258). V a n c o u v e r , B C : P a c i f i c Educational Press.  112  E v a n s , M . & H u n d e y , I. (2004). Instructional a p p r o a c h e s in s o c i a l studies education: F r o m "what to t e a c h " to "how to t e a c h " . In A . S e a r s & I. Wright (Eds.), Challenges & prospects for Canadian social studies (pp. 2 1 8 - 2 3 5 ) . Vancouver, B C : Pacific Educational Press. E v a n s , R. (1996). The human side of school change: Reform, resistance, real-life problems of innovation. S a n F r a n c i s c o , C A : J o s s e y - B a s s Publishers.  and the  Fullan, M . (2001). The new meaning of educational York: T e a c h e r s C o l l e g e P r e s s .  change  (third edition). N e w  Fullan, M . (2007). The new meaning of educational York: Teachers College Press.  change  (fourth edition). N e w  G l e s n e , C . (2006). Becoming qualitative researchers: edition). Toronto, O N : Allyn & B a c o n .  An introduction  (third  Harrison, J . , S m i t h , N. & Wright, I. (Eds.). (1998). Critical challenges in social studies for upper elementary students. V a n c o u v e r , B C : T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m . L i p m a n , M . (1988). Critical thinking: What can it be? U p p e r Montclair, N J : Institute for Critical Thinking, Montclair State C o l l e g e . M c L a u g h l i n , M . & M a r s h , D. (1990). Staff d e v e l o p m e n t a n d s c h o o l c h a n g e . In A . L i e b e r m a n (Ed.), Schools as collaborative cultures: Creating the future now. N e w York: F a l m e r . M c L a u g h l i n , M . W . (2004). Implementation a s mutual adaptation: C h a n g e in c l a s s r o o m organization. In D. Flinders & S . Thornton (Eds.), The Curriculum studies reader ( s e c o n d edition). N e w Y o r k : R o u t l e d g e F a l m e r . M c P e c k , J . E. (1990a). Teaching  critical thinking. N e w York: R o u t l e d g e .  M c P e c k , J . E . (1990b). R i c h a r d P a u l ' s critique of critical thinking and education. In J . E. M c P e c k (Ed.), Teaching critical thinking (pp. 112-123). N e w York: Routledge. Ministry of E d u c a t i o n (2006). Social studies grade 5: Integrated package. Victoria, B C : P r o v i n c e of British C o l u m b i a .  resource  Norris, S . P . (1990). Thinking about critical thinking: P h i l o s o p h e r s can't g o it alone. In J . E. M c P e c k (Ed.), Teaching critical thinking (pp. 67-74J. N e w York: R o u t l e d g e .  113  P a l y s , T. (2003). Research decisions: Quantitative and qualitative (third edition). S c a r b o r o u g h , O N : T h o m p s o n / N e l s o n .  perspectives  P a u l , R. (1993). Critical thinking: What every person needs to survive in a rapidly changing world (third edition). S a n t a R o s a , C A : F o u n d a t i o n for Critical Thinking. P a u l , R. (2005). T h e state of critical thinking today. New directions colleges, 130(summer), 2 7 - 3 8 .  for  community  S e a r s , A . & P a r s o n s , J . (1997). P r i n c i p l e s of a n 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 R e l a t i o n s and T e a c h e r In-service E d u c a t i o n , Faculty of E d u c a t i o n , S i m o n F r a s e r University. T h e Critical Thinking C o n s o r t i u m , online catalogue. http://tc2.ca/pdf/Forms/cataloq 11 -06.pdf. Retrieved S e p t e m b e r 2 0 0 7 .  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 o f critical thinking. M y teaching career consists o f 20 years o f experience in four Christian schools. During the past two decades I have been challenged to grow professionally in my view o f the aims o f education in general and, more specifically, in the discerning o f 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 o f my beliefs and practice as a teacher o f students and as a colleague among professionals. The purpose o f my master's degree research is to study the nature o f the changes that occur in teachers' conceptions o f critical thinking and their corresponding changes in classroom practice. M y main research question is: H o w do elementary teachers' conceptions o f 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 o f 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 w i l l be gratefully received throughout the duration o f the research project. A t the second level, I am seeking teachers who, in addition to the activities just mentioned, would volunteer to participate in three interviews. The interviews w i l l be tape recorded by me for purposes o f analysis. If you agree to participate in this study, the teaching o f a six week critical thinking Social Studies unit w i l l begin during the week o f Monday, September 18, 2006 and conclude no later than Friday, November 3, 2006. Curriculum guides w i l l be provided and the orientation session w i l l occur at an appropriate time prior to the study. Three focus group sessions w i l l take place at the beginning, middle, and end o f the project, approximately two weeks apart. The group members w i l l be involved in establishing a convenient time and location. The teachers involved i n the three interviews (beginning, middle, and end) w i l l be able to arrange an appointment time and place at their convenience. The focus group discussions and the interviews w i 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 w i l l explain the purpose o f 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 o f 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 o f critical thinking in its Vision 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: H o w do elementary teachers' conceptions o f 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 o f 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 o f teaching critical thinking after they have used the new curriculum materials for six weeks in their classroom? Aspects o f teachers' conceptions o f teaching critical thinking that are o f 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 w i l l include the distribution o f new Critical Thinking curriculum materials and an orientation workshop. The lessons w i l l be taught between the dates o f Sept. 18, 2006 and Nov. 3, 2006. The choice o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 letterheadThe 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 o f 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-T h e change i n teachers' conceptions of critical t h i n k i n g Q U E S T I O N N A I R E #2 Name:  1.  Date:  What are your purposes for teaching critical thinking?  2.  What do you regard as the benefits o f 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 w i l l be kept confidential. For my research project, I am exploring the ways i n which teachers' conceptions o f teaching critical thinking change while implementing new curriculum materials that exemplify critical thinking pedagogy. Because you have volunteered to teach a series o f Critical Challenges lessons with your students, I am asking you to provide me with some information by way o f two questionnaires. The first questionnaire w i l l provide me with your ideas prior to the teaching o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f school] interact with your conceptions o f 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 w i l l explain how your identity, and the information you provide during focus group meetings and interviews w i l l be kept confidential. For my research project, I am exploring the ways i n which teachers' conceptions o f teaching critical thinking change while implementing new curriculum materials that exemplify critical thinking pedagogy. Because you have volunteered to teach a series o f Critical Challenges lessons with your students, I am asking you to provide me with some information regarding your experiences by way o f four focus group meetings and three interviews. The group meetings and interviews w i l l take place at your school and w i l l occur at the beginning, middle, and end o f 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 w i l l be arranged at your convenience.) The four focus group meetings w i l l be one hour each for a total o f 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 w i l l begin during the week o f Monday, Sept. 18, 2006 and end no later than Friday, N o v . 3, 2006. The fourth focus group meeting is designed to follow up on any long term changes in your conceptions o f 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 o f 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 o f the school w i l l not be used in my thesis. Y o u w i l l be given the option o f a pseudonym. Y o u w i l l have the opportunity to read the transcripts o f your interviews and the sections o f my thesis that refer to you so that you can make sure I do not misrepresent you. (This task may take about 2 hours o f 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  A p p e n d i x 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: Pseudonym:  Date:  This is your year teaching. Past schools? Where? # o f years? Years at study school? A n y other noteworthy career history information: (grade changes/leave for raising kids) O n a resume, you would describe yourself as a Describe your teaching style:  teacher.  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: # o f students: boys: Distinctive characteristics o f classroom/students: • tone/climate • academic mix o f strong/weak • social mix—behavior, personality •  girls:  inclusion o f special needs students  Critical Thinking since December 2006: A n y indicators o f subsequent change or sustainability o f previously stated changes in conception or practice o f critical thinking A n y more T C 2 curriculum materials used in terms 2 or 3? A n y changes in your pedagogy? Esp. child-centred approach as opposed to teacherdirected ct activities. Regarding your awareness o f ct: On a scale o f 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 materials?)  Challenges  Attitude changes/emotional reactions (despair, optimism, intensification o f values/beliefs) N e w behaviours in your teaching practice (beyond pedagogy—group work, lesson planning, evaluation o f students)  130  A p p e n d i x I: Focus G r o u p 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 o f 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" o f 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  

Cite

Citation Scheme:

        

Citations by CSL (citeproc-js)

Usage Statistics

Share

Embed

Customize your widget with the following options, then copy and paste the code below into the HTML of your page to embed this item in your website.
                        
                            <div id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidgetDisplay">
                            <script id="ubcOpenCollectionsWidget"
                            src="{[{embed.src}]}"
                            data-item="{[{embed.item}]}"
                            data-collection="{[{embed.collection}]}"
                            data-metadata="{[{embed.showMetadata}]}"
                            data-width="{[{embed.width}]}"
                            async >
                            </script>
                            </div>
                        
                    
IIIF logo Our image viewer uses the IIIF 2.0 standard. To load this item in other compatible viewers, use this url:
http://iiif.library.ubc.ca/presentation/dsp.831.1-0055269/manifest

Comment

Related Items