Towards the 'Smart State': The Teaching and Learning of Thinking Skills
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This case study presents one teacher's approach to the provision of 'thinking-skills' instruction in a primary school classroom for year-six children. The three objectives of the project were first, to trial a different pedagogical approach, second, to influence and change the 'thinking' habits of youngsters, and third, to encourage students to employ 'good thinking' in order to maximize learning outcomes. The model for implementation was underpinned by philosophical approaches gleaned from the literature, which were caring, humane, stimulating and creative. An eclectic mix of insights and strategies were employed to target full immersion of students and teacher into a 'Thinking-Skills Classroom'. Data were gathered from two groups of student participants who represented two discrete learning contexts. One context was that of the Trial Classroom, where the 'immersion' process sought to create a 'culture of thinking', in which 'thinking' was the focus of all teaching, learning, and operating activity. The context of the Control Classroom, was one in which 'thinking' was not the focus of all instruction and learning, but rather, was taught in an incidental and less formal manner. The aim of this study was to determine whether significant educational outcomes would become apparent in the Trial Classroom, that is in a context where children were immersed in, and learned to use, a range of strategies aimed at progressing them as independent, confident and 'accomplished thinkers'. The teaching experiment that was 'The Thinking-Skills Classroom', proved successful. The research has revealed effective 'transfer' after instruction for students in the Trial Classroom. Learners effectively applied new 'thinking understandings' into everyday thinking situations, in addressing real-life problem solving, and in producing evidence of new ways of operating. Across all strata of academic ability students from the Trial Classroom increased their thinking prowess. A category was established for 'excellent thinkers', where students demonstrated acquisition of a different set of skills from those normally associated with 'good thinking'. Students developed increased self-confidence, risk-taking initiatives and independence across the board as a result of increased thinking ability. A study of this kind may be helpful to other teacher/researchers who are considering instructional and curriculum change in light of wider paradigmatic change in education. Although this particular study would be difficult to replicate, this researcher's story can be usefully interpreted to allow insights and generalizations from the case-study to be made. These may serve as a catalyst for other innovative school-based pedagogies to emerge, and for new learning approaches to be considered and trialled, in order to prepare students for life and learning in the Twenty-First Century.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
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