Educational Values and Cognitive Instruction: Implications for Reform

By Lorna Idol; Beau Fly Jones | Go to book overview

Critical Thinking: Literature Review and Needed Research

Mellen Kennedy
Michelle B. Fisher
Robert H. Ennis
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Critical thinking in education is an enduring and controversial topic. A plethora of articles, books, and studies exist in the field, particularly from recent years, making a fully comprehensive review of the literature virtually impossible. It is a broad topic overlapping with many areas of study in various disciplines, including cognitive psychology, philosophy, human development, curriculum development, and educational psychology, to name a few. An effort is made in this review to cover a wide range of issues relevant to critical thinking as well as the most important and controversial works.

To start, we discuss the movement in critical thinking followed by definitions and theories of critical thinking. We then present an overview of efforts in curriculum and instruction related to the teaching and learning of critical thinking, as well as a discussion of the issues involved in teacher training. The testing and evaluation of critical thinking capacities is then discussed. Finally, we make some suggestions for further research that is needed.


THE MOVEMENT IN CRITICAL THINKING

At the beginning of this century, John Dewey ( 1933), a major figure in American education, asserted that reflective thinking is a basic principle for organizing the curriculum. "Processes of instruction," he wrote, "are unified in the degree in which they center in the production of good habits of thinking" ( 1916, p. 163). Similarly, in General Education in a Free Society, the Harvard Committee proposed three educational abilities that

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