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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Fostering critical thinking through problem solving in home economics Raynor, Barbara Jean


This study investigated whether critical thinking can be fostered in home economics through teaching a problem solving approach in Family Management. Secondarily, it investigated teacher behaviours which may foster critical thinking abilities, the moral and ethical issues which the teaching of critical thinking addresses, and whether the students were able to use problem solving in real life situations. The research involved the students and teacher in a Family Management eleven class in rural British Columbia. All students in the class chose to participate in the study. The study was conducted during twenty-six classroom hours. The study used action research as the research methodology. The research included action/research cycles with time between for analysis and reflection. The phase of data analysis and reflection was called the reconnaissance. Data was collected through audio tapes of the classes, entries in the teacher's journal, a checklist, and collected student work. The data collected in the first reconnaissance phase established a description which served as a point of reference for comparing and analyzing later observations. Two cycles of action/research followed. Observations were made and data collected as the critical thinking concepts were introduced. The introduction of the macro-thinking skill of problem solving was combined with the micro- thinking skills of avoiding fallacies, observing, reporting and summarizing. The research found that there was an increase in critical thinking activities at the end of the study. Factors that were found to have effected this change were: the teaching of a problem solving process, the teaching of micro-thinking skills, certain teacher behaviours, and the classroom atmosphere. Home economics was found to play a unique role in providing practice in real life problem solving. Further research is needed to determine if the skills the students learned while problem solving in Family Management will carry over to everyday life.

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