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Changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking Loewen, Evelyn

Abstract

This study investigated the changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking as they implemented a new curriculum resource that was based on a critical thinking approach. It described the teachers' ideas about the purposes for, benefits of, problems encountered while, and conditions requisite to teaching critical thinking. It also took into account the changes in teachers' conceptions of critical thinking within the unique context of a faith-based independent school. The school was located in a large metropolitan district in British Columbia. Three intermediate teachers (grades five and six) in one elementary school were interviewed at the beginning, middle and end of the implementation period to gather their perceptions about teaching critical thinking while using the new materials. The interview transcripts were analyzed for indicators of change for each teacher's conception of teaching critical thinking, and then analyzed for similarities and differences between the teachers' reported experiences. It was found that the first year teacher, who was very knowledgeable about the new resource through her university training, experienced change by way of disappointment from unmet expectations and struggled to implement the critical thinking pedagogy and curriculum content due to various complexities associated with being a beginning teacher. Another teacher with a dozen years of classroom experience enthusiastically implemented the new unit and was highly focused on the execution of the lessons. She, however, did not invest time in reviewing the introductory information where the critical thinking conception and pedagogical approach were explained. Consequently, her conception of critical thinking and pedagogy did not change significantly. The third participant had twenty-six years of experience in the study school and possessed a basic understanding of critical thinking. She was hesitant to be involved in implementing a new curriculum resource because she anticipated being stretched professionally. Ultimately, she experienced ongoing changes in her conception of critical thinking that affected various aspects of her work as a classroom teacher. All three participants indicated the value of teaching critical thinking in tandem with the faith perspective that is integrated into all aspects of the curriculum at this particular independent school.

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