Classroom Instruction: The Teaching of Thinking
Lorna Idol Institute for Learning and Development
Beau Fly Jones North Central Regional Educational Laboratory
Richard E. Mayer University of California
It has always seemed to me that the ability to think critically and creatively is the prime cause for every important discovery that man has made.
-- Albert Einstein
Statistical reports from the U.S. Department of Education ( Livingston, 1985; Miller & Linn, 1986; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1978; 1980; 1983; 1985) reveal disturbing trends in student progress in thinking, particularly as it relates to school performance in reading, mathematics, science, and writing. Although students were reading better in 1984 than they were in 1971, 40% of 13-year-old students and 16% of 17-year-old students had not acquired intermediate reading skills, and they have had difficulty reading the range of academic materials they encountered in school. The majority (61%) of 17-year-old students were unable to perform at the adept level, and few (5%) had advanced reading skills. (Definitions of rudimentary, basic, intermediate, adept, and advanced reading skills are presented in Table 3.1.)
Equally disturbing are the outcomes of student performance for fourth-, eighth-, and eleventh-grade students in writing achievement. On the average, students at all grade levels were unable to express them-