Factors of the Thinking Disposition of Japanese High School Students

Article excerpt

This study measured high school students' thought disposition through a questionnaire on critical thinking. Factor analysis of the questionnaire revealed 4 factors that showed the aspects of thought disposition. Each factor score was examined to determine differences relating to gender and student grade level. The results showed that no significant differences were identified except in one factor. The thought disposition of high school teachers was also measured. The results of a comparative examination between students and teachers revealed significant differences.

Keywords: thought disposition, high school student, critical thinking, factor analysis, gender, student grade level.

The Japanese version of Newsweek published on September 8, 1999, focusing on "thinking skills", contained several articles on issues in school education in the 21st century. Educational evolution in different countries has been introduced and the words "thinking abilities" are repeatedly seen. Especially, a large number of curricula aiming at developing "thinking abilities", along with developing critical, creative, and curious children catch our eyes. Thinking abilities may be difficult to define, but according to the New Dictionary of Educational Psychology (Sakamoto, 1977) they could be defined as follows: in the context of psychology thinking abilities are the functions to control reasonable adaptation, such as concept, judgment and reasoning; or unreasonable adaptation, like undeveloped people's and children's thoughts and daydreams by ordinary people, or processes to control them through inner action like deduction, induction, insight, and association. The inner actions mainly include sense movement, image, and symbol representation. They constantly change their operation and the class structures when response to stimulation is delayed. Particularly, the function that controls reasonable adaptation will be explained by the metacognition study and recent notion of critical thinking because thinking abilities mainly depend on disposition of how to use thinking strategies.

Hiruma (1999) studied the structures of factors in Japanese university students' thinking style by using a Sternberg (1997) questionnaire on thinking style. He reported that males are stronger than females in inclination to create a new idea. As for the difference in majors, few differences between the humanities students and the science students could be found. However, significant differences were found between humanities and science students and art students. This study shows that there is an overall tendency to thinking disposition in university students. Especially, the differences in majors imply that there is a variety of thinking style among high school students, who do not specialize in any subjects.

Kawashima and Shiomi (2004) made a factor analysis and examined gender differences in high school students' thinking disposition and reported about thinking attitude based on critical thinking. They used a different questionnaire from Hiruma (1999); however, they reached the same conclusion as Hiruma namely, that thinking disposition has a great influence on learning, adaptation to the environment, and selection of a career and its success. Similarly, they also found that a confirming self-learning style is effective in forming a more flexible thinking attitude.

As Hiruma (1999) pointed out, the study of thinking disposition from now on should be directed to high school students and to adults. It is necessary to be clear about the differences in thinking attitudes between instructors and learners to develop a base for better and more effective learning programs, considering teaching and learning situations in high school. Therefore, it was decided to examine the differences of thinking disposition in high school students and teachers in this article.

METHOD

PARTICEPANTS

Participants were 155 public high school students (37 boys and 41 girls in the first grade; and 32 boys and 45 girls in the second grade), and 47 high school teachers of Japanese. …