Thinking critically about critical thinking: validating the Russian HEIghten® critical thinking assessment
Critical thinking has been identified as a crucial general skill contributing to academic and career success in the twenty-first century. With the increasing demands of the modern workplace and a global trend of accountability in higher education, educators and employers pay great attention to the development of students' critical thinking skills throughout their training. Therefore, there is an urgent need worldwide for an updated and comprehensive assessment tool of college-level critical thinking. This paper reports on the preliminary validation for the Russian version of the HEIghten® Critical Thinking assessment developed by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Based on a large Russian college student sample (N = 1060), we evaluated the psychometric quality of the items, individual and institution-level reliability, external validity, and student perceptions. Overall, the results suggested good psychometric quality, except that a few items showed low discriminating power and should be further examined with a second wave of data collection. IRT analyses revealed testlet effects and supported the essentially unidimensional structure of the measure. Appropriate correlations with external criteria provided support for the measure's convergent validity. Implications of the preliminary validation study results and the future research agenda, especially the need to collect longitudinal data, are discussed.
The need to foster critical thinking has long been one of the key issues in education. It is essentially vital nowadays against the background of an increased volume of cross-cultural communications due to the present-day demand for collaboration to tackle pressing global issues through joint efforts of different nations. While the format of debates has been recognized by researchers as one of the most efficient tools of setting off critical thinking, it is up to the new technologies in education to make it possible to bring this platform to a cross-cultural level. Since a cross-cultural dialogue in most cases supposes the mastery of a foreign language, e-learning in the form of cross-border video-conference debates present an invaluable opportunity for educators to enhance the pedagogy of foreign language acquisition around the globe. The present paper focuses on a case-study of an on-going project of implementing the tool of synchronous cross-cultural video-conference debates.
In this article we look at the various quality criteria in relation to data, obtained in qualitative research . For this pourpose we are involved in theoretical and methodological discussion about strategies used qualitative methods. But the "quality" of qualitative research is unlikely to be included in the category of a priori rules. Certain principles can help improve the quality and credibility of qualitative research, while the agreement with them is not a guarantee of their quality.
In the era of abundance of ICT in education, the focus of academics is gradually shifting from initial urge for testing all possible emerging devices in order to improve learning process to a concern over potential overload with digital media and thus the need for its sifting. Foreign language learning is no exception. The fundamental skills of reading, listening, speaking, and writing have all been ICT enhanced in the past decade in both successful and failed attempts to boost language proficiency of learners. At the same time, the only indisputable need for technology in foreign language acquisition in academic environment has always been traced in the sphere of developing listening skills. For many researchers, listening as a basic skill is closely connected to the ability of comprehension [3, 5, 9]. However, true for lower level language learning this argument is fading at a more advanced level of language mastery dominated by reinforcement of critical thinking. A qualitative leap from basic comprehension to critical analysis has to be addressed in the process of developing language competencies. Listening, in particular, requires the design of special learning material, which, on the one hand, meets the criterion of authenticity [2, 7] and, on the other hand, leaves room for scaffolding since formal learning implies the use of specifically-built system of learning tools and not just exposure to random language experiences. [3, 4] In this regard, digital audiobooks present a unique opportunity to tackle the development of critical listening at advanced stages. Audiobooks have recently found a wide application in education from its elementary stage to adult learning [1,16]. Primarily, audiobooks are used as a supplement to reading. The present study, however, is focused on the use of audiobooks for critical listening skills for ESL students without considering the reading component of the traditional approach to audiobooks. In such context, the present article deals with issues of developing a methodology of implementing the use of digital audiobooks in advanced ESL classroom, presents specific examples of scaffolding exercises and analysis of the data collected from field-testing this approach on the stage of higher education through the case study of the Russian students learning English at National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow.
The author teaches to awaken creativity in oneself, using emotions as a factor of motivation, explains the concept of critical thinking, gives the reader tools to add / edit publications to increase the clarity and rationality of their own judgments, and also shows where a particular theory is applicable
This article reports on the results of development of human mental abilities measurement method based on the stated theoretical positions. Such positions are represented by the following: the thesis formulated by M.I. Sechenov that a thought is generated in the process of establishing a connection between the object and its properties; the definition of thinking given by S.L. Rubinstein who wrote that in the process of solving a problem the object manifests its new properties and qualities, it shows a new side, a new content is "bailed out" of it, as well as the thesis about mental development of abilities formulated by V.D. Shadrikov.
The paper covers a case of teaching critical reading and speaking to students of Economics, ICT and Mechanics at senior levels at National Research University Higher School of Economics. Relevant tested teaching materials aimed at the development of required competencies in reading and speaking are presented as well as the methodical principles used in elaboration of these materials.
Contemporary argumentation theorists claim that argumentation has interactive, social, dynamic and dialogical nature and reflect social constructivist perspective. Yet, there are multiple approaches to promoting a most effective learning approach and instruction. How can students learn to construct strong arguments and distinguish between facts and opinions?
There are three educational approaches for developing argument skills: oral, written and web-based discussions. Research results reveal that expended engagement in argumentative discourse improves the quality of arguments even if there is no instruction provided.
In our book we take a mixed approach to teaching which is based on experiential learning and direct instruction. Direct instruction provides students with requirements for their writing while the experiential approach emphasizes their engagement and practice.
For Russian students, engaging in a “two-sided” argument (versus "one-sided") seems to be challenging. A two-sided argument addresses the opposing argument, rather than simply arguing for one's own position. It is crucial that Russian students learn to engage in evidence-based argumentation where they provide a claim and support it by evidence or reasons in a certain way.
Another challenge is that English instructors may also have difficulty in explaining how to make arguments and how evidence can be applied in reading and writing. Many teachers seem to be unprepared to provide instructional support for learning argumentation skills.
Development of cognitive competence requires acknowledging the academic and disciplinary discourses. Russian students often struggle to attend to opponent's claims and stay focused on their own claims. They also fail to identify any weaknesses in the opponent’s arguments. However, when proper instruction is available students are able to apply arguments.
There are various approaches to defining argument structure. Some researchers highlight a claim supported by grounds, warrants and backing. Others suggest argument-counterargument integration for defining an argument schema and suggest strategies to construct an integrative argument: refutation, constructing a design claim and weighing.
Whatever approach is chosen, one learning goal is for teachers and for students to become aware of the existing strategies and decide why they follow it. This is part of the goal of metacognitive development. It is also important to incorporate reflective activities into learning as they help to ensure that reasoning skills become internalized.
In addition to gaining awareness of the strategies and reflection, a learner should gain a deeper understanding of the content and persuading others with their arguments. Students should learn generate arguments that incorporate multiple perspectives of an issue. Our book employs reflective activities as a primary pedagogical tool for the improving argument and reasoning skills.
Our book is in line with the experiential learning which we see as the process of learning when students’ knowledge is based on their experience. “Knowledge results from the combination of grasping and transforming experience" (Kolb, 1984, p. 41 in Kolb, et al., 2000). The learning process is structured in four stages including first experience (preliminary questions in each section), reflective observation (theoretical excerpts and sample writings), abstract conceptualization (end-of-the-section questions) and active experimentation (thinking, speaking, writing activities).
In our book we also scaffold argumentative written discourse and break up learning activities into different aspects. There are such techniques as working in collaborative pairs, reflective activities, dialogues and discussions.
The development of metacognition is based on extended reading activities and speaking. It will help ensure students become reflective about their reasoning and evidence. Apart from having students develop stronger arguments, we invite them to engage more with the opposing position which isn't necessarily false.
We do believe that mastering critical writing skills help students become better critical thinkers.
Institutions affect investment decisions, including investments in human capital. Hence institutions are relevant for the allocation of talent. Good market-supporting institutions attract talent to productive value-creating activities, whereas poor ones raise the appeal of rent-seeking. We propose a theoretical model that predicts that more talented individuals are particularly sensitive in their career choices to the quality of institutions, and test these predictions on a sample of around 95 countries of the world. We find a strong positive association between the quality of institutions and graduation of college and university students in science, and an even stronger negative correlation with graduation in law. Our findings are robust to various specifications of empirical models, including smaller samples of former colonies and transition countries. The quality of human capital makes the distinction between educational choices under strong and weak institutions particularly sharp. We show that the allocation of talent is an important link between institutions and growth.