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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Critical thinking for children : a dialogue of hope Ashton, Melanie Lee

Abstract

The thesis begins with an investigation o f the lineage and diverse interpretations of the term "critical thinking." It also discusses some of the more contentious issues surrounding critical thinking such as: Is critical thinking generalizable? What is the place of moral values in critical thinking? Is critical thinking biased? How is critical thinking assessed? What has to be in place before critical thinking can flourish in a classroom? The thesis culminates in a six week, qualitative study that describes, interprets, and evaluates the emerging critical thinking (Ennis, 1987, p. 10) competence of a heterogeneous group of 6 to 7 year old students. The research investigates how the students utilize the "tools" o f critical thinking, as described by Ronald Case and LeRoi Daniels (1996, p. xiv-xv), to find solutions to challenging questions based on 3 pieces o f literature: The True Story o f the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, It's So Nice to Have a Wolf Around the House by Harry Allard, and A Handful of Seeds by Monica Hughes. The study indicates that the young children were able to successfully make use of the critical thinking tools (Case & Daniels, 1996) in a classroom setting. It was evident that the students had a knowledge system in place that allowed them to evaluate and use evidence as a justification of causality. It was also evident that the students were in the process of developing critical thinking dispositions. The recorded data demonstrate how children make sense of their world.

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