Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Peer Learning with Concept Cartoons Enhance Critical Thinking and Performance in Secondary School Economics

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Peer Learning with Concept Cartoons Enhance Critical Thinking and Performance in Secondary School Economics

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Most of the education system focuses on developing students' higher-order thinking skills nowadays. (Stupple et al., 2017). It is accepted that every student can think naturally. However, without appropriate learning experiences, students often struggle to develop higher order skills in complex domains such as economic thinking. While economics is often regarded as a difficult subject, it is reasonable to expect that students' can apply economic principles to their daily lives. However, what does it mean to think like an economist? To think like an economist is the capacity to make a decisions, to be open to new evidence and the capacity to solve problems in daily life (Willingham, 2007). In short, it is the specific application of critical thinking to a problem area. However, the findings of Ferraro and Taylor (2005) indicate that economic students do not have deeper understanding of economics concepts or developed reasoning ability when compared to the science students. They also found that most economics classes only emphasize mathematical calculation and techniques to the detriment of economics reasoning ability. Malaysian graduates also face the same problem where their thinking ability is at a moderate level (Tarmizi et al. 2009). These findings imply that drastic and effective measures need to be taken at school level to prepare secondary school students to be effective employees who are able to think critically.

In addition, critical thinking is one of the important components of the secondary school economics syllabus. However, the majority of economics teachers still rely heavily on chalk and talk (Khoo, 2008) in their lessons. Without more sophisticated teaching and learning methods, it will be difficult to develop students' thinking skills.

Economics is an elective subject in form four (upper secondary, equivalent to year 10) in Malaysia. The Economics curriculum consists mainly of Mathematics, Graphing and working with formula. Students who take form four economics in secondary schools generally face difficulties in mastering economic skills that involve mathematical and graphing elements (Andreopoulos & Panayides, 2010). Many students found that the subject of Economics was difficult (Zakaria Kassim, 1993). This negative perception is one of the obstacles that further makes it difficult for students to perform well in this subject. Consequently, there is a detrition of the students that taking economics because they found that this subject is difficult to score. This phenomenon is supported by Khoo (2012).

Most Malaysian students rely solely on textbooks and memorization to score well in the examination (Khoo, 2008; Asikainen, Virtanen, Parpala, & Lindblom-Ylänne, 2013). Schools often encourage teachers to impart as much information as possible within the limited time allocated to them (Schaferman, 1991; Brevik, Fosse & Rødnes, 2014; Curdt-Christiansen, 2010). Researchers have suggested that teachers should conduct better teaching in economics especially when the students nowadays take this subject in order to develop critical thinking (Johnston, James, Lye & McDonald, 2000; Khoo, 2011). On the other hand, one of the major challenges of teaching economics is students need to have the knowledge and skills to adapt to the changing economic environment (Rogojanu, 2015). Furthermore, the majority of secondary school students are also the future university graduates in Malaysia. If most of the secondary students fail to think like economists, are they able to train future generations to think? Are they able to infuse the critical thinking in their lessons? Therefore critical thinking is an important element to be stressed in modern education, especially in higher education (Rajendran, 2004; Maria Saleh, 2010; Davies, & Lundholm, 2013; Dunne, 2015; Kwan & Wong, 2015; O'Hare & McGuinness, 2015; Shazaitul Azreen Rodzalan & Maisarah Mohamed Saat, 2015). …

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