In the wake of knowledge societies of the twenty-first century, researchers and academic professionals have strived to establish sound instructional methods in schools. Evidence that is obtained from experiments is required for the development of the best theoretical frameworks that can be implemented in today’s scientific community. At the outset, there is a need to supply the targeted audience with an accredited research study. The value of any research is derived from its alignment with earlier work and its inherent properties within a modern educational context. An analysis of credible information from previous studies provides an insight into the understanding of contemporary concepts. The paper is divided into two parts. The first part is a critique of selected peer-reviewed articles based on known research guidelines. The second part provides an appropriate approach to the compilation of research articles that are guided by scientific knowledge. This paper provides a critique of various quantitative and qualitative research procedures that have been used to generate five articles that pertain to pedagogy.
The studies discussed in this paper represent various works of literature that were compiled using quantitative techniques. The quantitative research methods revolved around the objectivity of measured statistical data. As a result, they entail numerical analysis of information that was collected from primary sources such as polls, questionnaires, and surveys. Some information was also obtained from existing statistical data (from secondary sources) using computation techniques. The quantitative studies aimed at gathering numerical data to generalize certain details about the relationship between instruction and the critical thinking abilities of learners by clarifying the observable facts.
De Jager, Reezigt, and Creemers (2012) authored the first study ‘The impacts of teacher training on new Instructional Behavior in reading Comprehension’. The researchers clearly state the study question since it introduces the reader to the purpose of conducting the investigation sufficiently. The research question in this article is to investigate whether teacher training on new instructional methods corresponds with the change in students’ degree of comprehension. However, the researcher does not clearly justify the significance of the study question. This study requires more than one research question. The researcher does not adequately provide evidence to show that the question remains unanswered. The literature reviewed by the researcher also provides unsatisfactory empirical evidence of the existing instructional behavior and its effects on comprehension levels. In addition, the researcher does not explicitly state the correlation between independent variables and propositional outcomes of the dependent variables.
The second article ‘Instructional Methods Influence Critical Thinking: Do Students and Instructors Agree?’ was authored by Stephen C. Carlson, Piedmont College. Scientific rules for formulating the research problem were not followed. The scholars begin by outlining the generalizations of assumed outcomes. They theorized that the students and teachers did not agree on the fact that instructional methods influenced critical thinking. Therefore, the researchers failed to introduce the research question as per the stipulated scientific procedures. They provide insufficient evidence to justify the existence of the research problem. Although the variables were properly stated, and participants were clearly outlined, it was hard to generalize the propositions because the researcher’s sample size was limited to a single school.
In their article ‘The Impact of Teaching Critical Thinking Skills on Reading Comprehension of Iranian EFL Learners’, Mansoor Fahim and Maryam Sa’eepour clearly demonstrate an understanding of the requirements of qualitative research. The study problems are explicitly stated. In addition, research methodologies are followed appropriately. The hypothesis strictly specifies the scope and purpose of the study. Findings are well analyzed, and a generalization of results is evident. The recommendations that are provided imply that teaching critical skills has a profound and correlation-based effect on the comprehension levels of Iranian students. The researchers utilized a proper sample size that involved the participation of a number of schools in Iran.
The fourth article ‘The effect of scaffolding instruction on reading comprehension skills’ was authored by Coetzee, Stephen A., Schmulian, and Astrid Kotze. The author of this article demonstrates a proper understanding of the research methodologies, problem statement, and design. However, the limitation of the study is evident where insufficient evidence of the existing problem is provided. The findings are properly analyzed. The study’s findings revealed that scaffolding instructions improve the students’ level of comprehension. The researchers recommend teachers adopt the teaching strategy. However, the research should have been extended to various factors that improve the learning environment such as the development of reading skills. The study focused on the instructional method; hence, it is teacher-centered. The researcher should have covered some learner-based factors that influence comprehension of the content such as listening skills, timeliness, response, and adherence to instruction among others (Arabacioglu & Akar, 2014).
Lastly, in the article ‘Effects of Reciprocal Teaching Strategies on Reading Comprehension, Choo (2011) provides background information to show the evidence of an existing disparity between the teaching methods used in the school and comprehension levels of students. This study adheres to the expected qualitative and quantitative techniques. A theoretical perspective is also provided by following a clear research design. The author also shows consistency of instructional information that is obtained from the survey. Participants are well described by analyzing the findings deeply. However, the study is only limited to the Methodist Boys’ School and cannot be generalized to other schools. The researcher also based the study on a significant time difference. Technology has made teaching diverse due to the unfair distribution of modern instructional instruments in schools. This phenomenon makes the study inapplicable to modern schools.
The purpose of the analysis was to provide a critique of the way the researchers of the articles conducted the studies. It entails the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the pieces of research. It seeks to investigate adherence to scientific research procedures. Close attention is paid to the elements of a study such as the literature review, research problem, and approach. In this case, the relationship between dependent and independent variables is determined. In addition, the paper provides an insight into the analytic approaches, statistical techniques, and formulation of an explicit statement of the hypothesis. Findings were also investigated to determine whether the author’s findings infer from the expectations of the audience.
The abovementioned articles have various limitations. At the outset, the data collected did not involve many schools. This set of circumstances rendered most of the articles inadequate since they were based on a generalization of knowledge. For instance, participants in Article 1 were students from only one school. The researchers should have involved numerous schools across a particular district. It should have been regarded as an appropriate sample size as the data collected was a viable representation of the whole population. A larger sample size reduces the degree of bias. The small sample size that was used to come up with the generalizations rendered the study ineligible for publication, as it did not represent the actual scenario on the ground.
How the Research should have been conducted
The second article ‘Instructional Methods Influence Critical Thinking: Do Students and Instructors Agree?’ by Carlson was chosen to show how the research should have been conducted in a different manner. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate the effect of the instructional method on the students’ perceptions of critical thinking. It entailed the assessment of students’ development of cognitive abilities as they advance to higher levels of study. According to Richardson, Kalvaitis, and Delparte (2014), critical thinking skills are deemed significant for students, especially those in higher education levels. There has been an increased debate concerning instructional methods, critical thinking, and student outcomes among administrators and faculty. Evidence reveals a disparity between the perceptions of students and instructors concerning teaching methods that enhance critical thinking. Kantar (2013) defines critical thinking as a rationally regimented process that involves an active conceptualization, application, analysis, synthesis, and/or evaluation of information. Facts that are obtained from observations, experience, reflection, reasoning, and/or communication serve as a guide to instructional beliefs. This situation leads to the execution of logical pedagogical processes (Kantar, 2013; Richardson et al. 2014). Such facts are based on general intellectual values that surpass the subject divisions. They are clear, accurate, precise, consistent, and show the depth and fair presentation of instructional information. This study reports the findings of a survey of students and instructors in the business school of a small Southern college (Wu & Weng, 2013; Richardson et al. 2014).
This qualitative research used an explanatory case study design that was applied in a business graduate school to investigate whether the students and instructors agreed on the fact that instructional methods underpin the awareness of critical thinking. In this essay, two hypotheses should have guided the research. The first hypothesis should have investigated whether critical thinking among students is most likely to improve the level of study advances. The second hypothesis should have examined if the students’ perception of critical thinking instruction corresponded with that of their instructors. A third hypothesis should have investigated the correlation have sought whether there was no correlation between students’ and instructor’s perceptions.
Data Collection and Methodology
The study used a survey method to gather data from the primary units of the business course. The study involved important departments in which 100 were selected. 987 out of the possible 1487 responses were obtained. This sample size was reliable since it represented a factual scenario. 28 instructors were surveyed and 15 of the responses were received. Identical measuring tools were used in the study to attain a high accuracy level and consistency of outcomes. A confirmation from the faculty was received to show that the instructional methods were implemented in their schools. A sizeable proportion of the teaching staff accepted the method.
Outcomes without Instructional Methods
Upon assessment of course-level mean scores for student perceptions of critical thinking instruction, the first proposition was rejected. The empirical study revealed that there were statistically significant differences between the mean scores depending on the course levels. The mean scores of students were assessed against the instructor scores in each level. Using a paired-sample t-test, the alternate proposition supported the differences between course levels’ mean scores. Correspondingly, there is a weak correlation between course-level mean scores for perceived critical thinking and instruction. An observable disparity between the students’ awareness of critical thinking instruction and the opinions of the instructors was observed. When examining the course level scores between the students and faculties based on an item-by-item basis, there was a different picture of agreement.
Applying Instructional Methods
Appropriate instructional strategies such as discussions and other learner-centered techniques demonstrated a moderate relationship between student and teacher awareness of critical thinking instruction across all the course levels. The relationship increased at higher levels (Kalelioğlu & Gülbahar, 2014). Moreover, it was realized that the use of videos in pedagogy had an adverse teacher-learner relationship in the sophomore course level. From the sophomore to senior level, there is a progression from negative to a positive correlation between the use of videos and student perceptions of critical instruction. In higher-level core units that are studied, the students’ perceptions of decisive reasoning correlated with the teachers’ perceptions significantly. In addition, individual project assignments actively engaged students in problem-solving activities. They also promoted the development of critical thinking skills since students were able to seek relevant information using empirical methods (Kalelioğlu & Gülbahar, 2014). The effect of the individual projects reveals through the improved abilities of the learners to develop real projects. Brainstorming and active student discussion indicated a high correlation between the instructional process and student perceptions of critical thinking.
Findings and Analysis
The first hypothesis was approved since the students’ perceptions of critical thinking instruction varied significantly between the course levels. The relevance of their viewpoints improved as they progressed to study courses of higher levels. As a result, it can be deduced that instructional strategies that encompass reflective synthesis, scrutiny, and active practice of course requirements enhance critical thinking among students. Hypothesis 2 was declined since the students’ insights correlated significantly with the instructor’s sensitivity to the pedagogical process. There was a statistically significant agreement on only four out of the twenty items that were included in the survey. In the study, support for an alternate proposition was found. There was a significant difference between the viewpoints of the instructors and those of the students. This disconnect was prevalent among students and instructors in the sophomore-level courses (Ünver, 2014). Hypothesis 3 tested moderately positive as the instructor’s emphasis on a chosen strategy correlated significantly with the student perceptions of critical analysis of the instructional process. Out of the twenty direct and indirect instructional methods that were included in the survey, only four methods that exhibited positive correlations with the students’ perceptions were statistically significant. However, these instructions involved active engagement in discussions, brainstorming, and individual projects.
This study involved students and instructors from a single learning institution. As a result, it was not possible to generalize it to a large population of learners and instructors. However, the outstanding strength of this work was based on empirical evidence. The data was first-hand and highly accurate. There was inadequate literature review since the existence of previous work was not revealed. The methodology that was adopted in the study qualified the scientific criterion that was stipulated. However, there was a disconnection between the study objectives and the outcome. While the study sought to cover a broad scope of evaluating the instructional content, the researcher concentrated on a narrow area of study that entailed the teaching methods of one school. Pedagogical research requires extensive research. It was impossible to base it on a few teaching philosophies that were adopted by the instructors of the school.
This study recommends instructors identify the relationship of a students’ task or activity to critical thinking to foster a closer configuration. They should exhibit clarity of instruction and share viewpoints on the assignment. In the light of the above results, instructors should re-examine their assumptions about critical thinking instructional methods (Kalelioğlu & Gülbahar, 2014). In particular, they should consider different strategies that can bring about a closer alignment of the instructor’s opinions with student perceptions. Simple measures such as identification of the relationship between assignments and critical thinking can foster a closer alignment. Clarity of instruction and shared knowledge about the assignment is a form of role modeling critical thinking that students can emulate (VanDerHeide & Newell, 2013). The study reveals that these behaviors have as much to do with the students’ perceptions of the assignment itself. The degree of disconnect between instructor and student perceptions of critical thinking instruction is a warning to implement change in the instructional process (VanDerHeide & Newell, 2013; Ko, 2014). Individual projects are highly encouraged since they have significant learning outcomes such as brainstorming ideas and the development of critical thinking skills. As a result, instructors should prioritize student-centered techniques that ensure their full engagement in individualized learning. This situation will significantly improve the bridge of the gap between the instructor and student perceptions.
Instructors also emphasized the use of education literature regarding learning styles and student engagement. This method of instruction will provide a deep understanding of the relationship between training and research. As a result, it will form a basis for formulating teaching strategies that are more efficient (VanDerHeide & Newell, 2013; Cheng, 2014). Since the study shows that student perceptions of critical thinking instruction change as students transition from sophomore level to senior-level courses, further investigation is needed to uncover the underlying factors that contribute to this pattern. Cheng (2014) posits that efficient teaching strategies result in the improved accomplishment of educational goals in schools. Such methods develop the learner’s comprehension ability.
The above review reveals that when instructors honor the manner in which students learn, they are more likely to endorse optimal and intentional learning practices. Three emerged core tenets emerged from the research during the intentional learning experiences. The first tenet entailed involved working with the students’ prior knowledge. The second tenet emphasized engagement in higher-order cognitive processes. Thirdly, there was a need to stimulate active learning. The outmoded model of learning in which students are passive containers that are ready to receive deposits of information from a dictatorial source has been disputed in the study. In fact, presenting students with compelling facts that support a certain construct, the study shows that their attachment to prior experiences and learned constructs can impede the full integration of new concepts and knowledge. Hence, prior to determining the instructional content and direction, educators are advised to review and attend to students’ learning that is related to the course topics. This strategy will improve the abilities of the students to comprehend information within its context from both academic and real-life angles. The plan is to promote the instructional process with a view of establishing the relevance of earlier pedagogical materials in modern learning programs.
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