Critical thinking in teacher education: a process-oriented research agenda

Year: 1991


Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In recent years, critical thinking has become a central focus of education, especially in North America. Within this focus, there has been a major debate regarding the generalisability or specificity of critical thinking. The main issue in this connection appears to have been whether critical thinking needs to be closely linked with traditional disciplines. If critical thinking is really as vital as its proponents maintain, then it will also be important in applied fields such as teacher education. Unfortunately, the term "critical thinking" has been used and understood in several different ways (Garrison, 1991:288-292).For example, Norris and Ennis (1990) associate both inductive and deductive forms of thinking with decisions about belief and action. On the other hand, Brookfield (1987) sees critical thinking in a less scientific sense. To him, critical thinking is practically synonymous with "reflection". The debating of issues in the area of study known as "critical thinking", therefore, has been complicated because of the coexistence of differing meanings and perspectives used by contemporary scholars in the field. Bearing this in mind,it is our intention in this paper to explore the implications, for teacher education, of taking critical thinking seriously. If the Finn Report is implemented, critical thinking will be but one of a series of higher level competencies that teacher education will need to address. The following sections outline and discuss a research agenda covering various elements of the process of teacher education in relation to critical thinking.