Student Teacher and Lecturer Perceptions of the Use of Asynchronous Discussion Forums, Quizzes and Uploaded Resources for Promoting Critical Thinking
Mwalongo, A. I. (2014). Student Teacher and Lecturer Perceptions of the Use of Asynchronous Discussion Forums, Quizzes and Uploaded Resources for Promoting Critical Thinking (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8848
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8848
This study examined student teacher and lecturer perceptions of the use of asynchronous discussion forums, quizzes and uploaded resources for promoting critical thinking within a pre-service teacher education programme in Tanzania. Critical thinking is necessary both in life in general, and in education in particular. Critical thinking skills and thinking dispositions help people solve their problems, make rational decisions, evaluate information, guide their beliefs and actions, and improve their reasoning skills. While critical thinking skills influence the ability to carry out a thinking task, thinking dispositions may determine which actions should be carried out, the manner in which they should be carried out, and when they should be carried out. This means that critical thinking is influenced by contextual factors such as time, place, intentions, motivations of the thinker, and subject matter under discussion. However, most of the previous studies have tended to measure the two components of critical thinking separately and use different instruments. This way of measuring critical thinking is incompatible with the current conceptualisation of critical thinking, where critical thinking is understood as a set of related cognitive skills and dispositions. Since critical thinking varies over time and in different places, to get a clearer picture of an individual’s critical thinking, both critical thinking skills and thinking dispositions need to be measured simultaneously using the same instrument in order to offset the influence of contextual factors. Learning management systems (LMS) have tools such as asynchronous discussion forums, and quizzes that can promote critical thinking, especially when conscious planning is considered. Since, these tools have the potential for promoting critical thinking, measuring the evidence of critical thinking manifested in those tools is important. Current instruments measuring critical thinking in tasks related to asynchronous discussion forums do not relate thinking skills such as recall, and comprehension, and dispositional factors to critical thinking. Recall, comprehension and dispositional factors need to be measured in asynchronous discussion forums because they influence critical thinking. This study used sociocultural theory as its theoretical framework. Employing a case study approach, 54 students and 15 lecturers from three public universities in Tanzania participated in a survey. Using sample integration, eight students and six lecturers were selected for focus group discussions and one-to-one interviews. Mixed methods research was used to collect and generate data through surveys, focus group discussions, documentary review, and researcher’s reflective journal. While quantitative data were analysed through SPSS 21, qualitative data were analysed through NVivo 10.Results revealed similarities and differences in critical thinking between students and lecturers, pre-service and in-service student teachers, male and female students, and between younger and older lecturers. The study contributes to knowledge by developing a combined instrument for capturing critical thinking skills and thinking dispositions simultaneously. Another instrument, the RCS-CAIS model is an attempt to show the relationship between critical thinking skills and dispositional factors in tasks related to asynchronous discussion forums. The study contributes to theory by demonstrating that thinking skills are not hierarchical, but are rather overlapping, iterative and multi-directional depending on prevailing circumstances at the time of engaging in a thinking task. Pedagogical and institutional implications of the findings have been discussed. Finally, areas for further research have been suggested.
University of Waikato
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