Developing Critical Thinking Skills of Secondary Students in Jordan Utilizing Monro and Slater Strategy, and McFarland Strategy

Article excerpt

Introduction and Theoretical Framework

In today's society, characterized by constant changes and competition, educators and employers are seeking students who are equipped with critical thinking skills to face challenges, to make the right decisions, to build an integrated personality capable of participating in a society, to share different point of views, and ultimately to solve national problems (Biajeh, 2002; Khalefh, 1990; McFarland, 1985). Critical thinking skills represent a persons' ability to assess knowledge, facts, and accuracy in topical analysis for any Gnostic assumptive or beliefs in regards to evidence that it supports to arrive at unharmed findings in clear and logical ways (Al-Zyadat, 1995). Gunn (1993) defined critical thinking as the mental process to evaluate individual thinking based on established evidence and laws. Elkins (1999) added that critical thinking may involve various components such as imagination, analytical, and cause and effect relationships.

To succeed and become

competent, students should possess the needed critical thinking skills and utilize them in their daily lives, which may allow them to organize and evaluate the information they receive from reading books and by attending school. Researchers have mentioned a number of critical thinking skills that students should possess, such as being able to evaluate discussions, explain information, and test hypotheses (Watson & Glaser, 1991), distinguish facts, determine right answers from wrong answers, determine right resources, and the ability to make predictions (Beyer, 1995), solve problems, and evaluate performance (Billy, 2001). Moreover, critical thinking skills have been found to influence students' achievement (Alrabthy, 2004) and motivation (Jennifer & Jeffry, 2001).

Based on the review of previous research, the researchers noticed that few studies discussed the importance of utilizing modern teaching strategies aimed at developing students' critical thinking skills. Furthermore, previous research indicated that teachers are apt to use traditional teaching methods in their classrooms (Alziyadat, 2003). Traditional teaching methods that are based on providing information to students for memorization purposes, may negatively impact students' achievements (Alnabulsy, 1995). Based on this finding, educational personnel have developed new teaching strategies aimed at developing critical thinking skills for students such as the McFarland strategy, Smith Strategy, Orelly strategy, Byer strategy, and Monro & Slater strategy.

The importance of developing students' critical thinking skills via different teaching methods has been emphasized by few studies. For example, Lumpkin (1992) studied the effect of direct teaching methods for developing critical thinking skills for 80 fifth and sixth-grade Social Studies students. The sample was divided into two groups: one group (experimental) was taught with a focus on critical thinking while the control group was taught via the traditional teaching method. The Cornell test for measuring critical thinking skills was applied on the two groups. The results showed no statistical differences in critical thinking skills for the students. Another study by Husny (2002) measured the effectiveness of teaching History utilizing the style of historical story in developing critical thinking skills for basic level students. The sample consisted of 120 second-grade students in Oman. The results indicated that there were statistical differences in favor of empirical groups taught by using historical story for testing the skill of correlated words. Alhusny's (2002) study investigated the effect of teaching history via story telling to develop the critical thinking skills of 120 tenth-grade students in Oman. The researcher divided students into one experimental group taught via story telling and one control group taught via traditional method. …