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Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

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Teaching and Teacher Education

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Cultivating critical thinkers: Exploring transfer of learning from pre-service

teacher training to classroom practice
Ya-Ting Carolyn Yang*
Institute of Education & Center for Teacher Education, National Cheng Kung University, No.1, University Road, Tainan City 701, Taiwan, ROC

h i g h l i g h t s
< Explores transfer of learning from teacher training to classroom practice.
< Two pre-service teachers and 108 junior high school students participated.
< Critical thinking skills and dispositions were successfully transferred to learners.
< Development in critical thinking was associated with improved academic achievement.
< Empirical results should be replicated with a larger unbiased sample.

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history:
Received 7 January 2012
Received in revised form
5 June 2012
Accepted 21 June 2012

This study explores the transfer of critical thinking skills and dispositions from pre-service teacher
training to classroom practice and student achievement in the cases of two graduates from a course on
critical thinking-integrated instruction. Two 7th and two 8th grade classes were randomly assigned as
experimental (CT-integrated instruction), or comparison (traditional instruction) groups. Empirical
results demonstrated that, in these two cases, the teachers successfully developed CT-integrated
instruction for effectively fostering students CT skills and dispositions, while improving student
achievement. Future research should include larger and more representative samples to avoid bias and
reliably evaluate CT-based teacher training initiatives.
2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Critical thinking
Pre-service teacher education
Transfer of learning
Quasi-experimental design
Teacher knowledge
Academic achievement

1. Introduction
1.1. The importance of critical thinking in learning
Most researchers and classroom teachers agree that cultivating
students thinking abilities, especially critical thinking-integrated
instruction (CT), is one of the most urgent learning objectives for
modern education. What, exactly, is CT? Ennis (1987) offers
a widely accepted denition of CT as reasonable, reective
thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. CT is
classied as higher-level thinking (Paul, 1995; Yang, Newby, & Bill,
2005) and includes elements from both the cognitive domain,
critical thinking skills (CTS), and the affective domain, critical
thinking dispositions (CTD) (Facione, 2011; Yang & Chou, 2008; Yeh,
2000). CTS involves cognitive skills, including analysis, evaluation,

* Tel.: 886 6 2757575x56230; fax: 886 6 2766493.

E-mail address:
0742-051X/$ e see front matter 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

inference, deductive reasoning, and inductive reasoning while CTD

is characterized by inquisitiveness, open-mindedness, systematicity, CT-condence, truth-seeking, cognitive maturity, and
analyticity (Facione).
Critical thinking is such an important issue in 21st century
teaching and learning, largely because it is an important element in
life success. Judging the veracity of various sources of information,
one element of CT, is a daily challenge in contemporary society,
particularly given the information overload typical of the Internet
age. These changing conditions require an evaluation of learning
outcomes such as CT in 21st century education (Yang & Chou, 2008).
1.2. Teacher education and critical thinking
In order to foster CT in students, it is necessary to rst nurture
teachers CT (Elder & Paul, 1994). Unfortunately, studies have
shown that few instructors and students in the area of teacher
education had the necessary background, understanding, or experience in CT training approaches and classroom instruction (Paul,

Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

Elder, & Bartell, 1997). In order to provide pre-service or in-service

teachers with the competencies necessary for CT-integrated
instruction, several areas must be addressed, including development of CTS and CTD, a structural approach to understanding
problems and arguments, and metacognitive skills, including
monitoring and reection (Halpern, 1998).
The inuence of teacher belief and teacher experience in
developing the ability to conduct CT-integrated instruction is
profound, particularly given the diversity of student ability levels
and corresponding teacher beliefs that the appropriateness of highand low-CT activities is related to students (academic or motivational) advantages (Warburton & Torff, 2005). The authors suggest
that teacher education models that demonstrate effective use of CT
activities, incorporating opportunities for guided practice in
designing, implementing, and assessing CT activities, and fostering
an environment conducive to reective thinking, will best address
CT-related teacher beliefs (Warburton & Torff, 2005).
Professional CT knowledge, teaching efcacy, and teaching behaviors are important factors in the design of CT instruction (Yeh, 1999). As
such, several teaching strategies or learning theories, such as cooperative learning, reciprocal teaching (Brown & Palincsar, 1989), communities of practice (Wenger, 1998), case study pedagogy and teacher
questioning (Wood & Anderson, 2001), problem-centered instruction
(Casey & Howson, 1993), and the integration and direct teaching of CTS
have been proposed to help promote CTS (Daud & Husin, 2004).
However, to date, few researchers have attempted the design and
empirical evaluation of a model which integrates and systematically
organizes these teaching strategies in a manner which is appropriate
for training and use with pre-service and novice teachers.
1.3. The sociocultural context of critical thinking in Taiwan
In Taiwan, the educational system is the responsibility of the
Ministry of Education. Access to high school and university is
controlled by a series of national exams. While this system is
effective in producing graduates who score well on international
tests of math and science, it has been criticized for fostering
excessive pressure and promoting rote memorization in favor of
higher thinking and creativity. In part due to a Confucian tradition
in education, public schools in Taiwan are characterized by extensive testing, use of lecture-type instruction, high levels of discipline,
and large class-sizes. In the past, due to the inuence of collectivistoriented culture and constraining education policy, students in
Taiwan have not been encouraged to think critically and reectively
(McBride, Xiang, Wittenburg, & Shen, 2002). However, a climate of
educational reform in Taiwan has resulted in a positive attitude
toward improvement and innovation in teaching and learning, with
the provision of ample funding for research.
With a growing awareness in Asian higher education that
students need to learn English to have a strong competitive
advantage in the workplace of the future (Nunan, 2003), in recent
years, there has been increased attention given to English prociency by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. However, Taiwan
lags behind other Asian countries, in terms of English prociency.
According to a report published by the Educational Testing Service
(2010) in Taiwan, the average score of Taiwanese students ranked
Taiwan 6th (behind China and South Korea) out of 12 Asia countries
on the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC).
1.4. Arguments for implementing critical thinking instruction in
Although a general consensus has been formed concerning the
value of incorporating CTS into classroom instruction, some arguments have been raised against incorporating CT into English


language or other education programs in non-Western nations.

Some argue that CT is a social practice which may not be appropriate for use with non-Western students. Atkinson (1997) refers to
CTs focus on reductive and exclusive argumentation and individualism which could clash with the values of other, especially
Eastern, cultures. Some argue that CT is largely a western principle
and its values of argumentation, questioning, evaluation, and
focusing on errors conict with Confucian principles of harmony,
respect, and passing down essential knowledge (Greenholz, 2003;
Tweed & Lehrman, 2002). Thus, it may be more difcult and timeconsuming to incorporate Socratic questioning into classes which
are in the tradition of Confucian education.
In terms of English language learning, however, other scholars
have refuted the cultural argument and noted that English, as
a Western language, should be taught in the context of Western
culture. That is, one component of second language education
involves exposing the students to the culture and norms of the
speakers of that language. Curry (1999) suggests that the English
language learning classroom may be an ideal environment in
which to acquire CTS, preparing students for interaction with
native speakers of English and fostering social empowerment
through the questioning and challenging of the status quo.
Benesch (1999) agrees that dialogical CT, involving the exploration
and debate of different perspectives, can be extremely useful in
second language classes. This also ts well with the goals of social
constructivism which emphasizes purposeful interaction in the
target language, utilizing authentic situations and activities which
offer choice, collaboration, and feedback. One caveat concerning
the incorporation of CT into second language classrooms is that
a focus on sustained content is vital. It is only through extended
focus on a single theme that students can acquire the necessary
background knowledge required to think critically (Pally, 1997).
Thus, despite the criticisms of some scholars, we believe that
English language instruction is an appropriate forum for CT-integrated activities, as the collaborative/interactive features of CT
activities can augment language learning and challenge learners to
expand their thinking.
2. Background to the study
2.1. The challenge of teacher training for promoting critical thinking
In response to ndings that elementary and high school
students score lower than US children in tests of logic and independent thinking, Yeh (1991) points out that teacher education
courses in Taiwan tend to value pre-service teachers professional
or domain-specic skills, such as Chinese and math abilities, and
rarely focus on critical thinking skills. Some researchers have
explored the inclusion of critical thinking in teacher education in
Taiwan, such as Wen (2001), who developed workshops integrating
critical thinking concepts, instructional theory, and the national
curriculum guidelines for enhancing in-service elementary and
high school teachers critical thinking skills. Yeh (1998, 1999) conducted a short-term quasi-experimental design using computer
simulation, demonstrating that effective critical thinking instruction requires three factors: professional knowledge of CT instruction, personal critical thinking abilities, and positive teaching
behaviors for enhancing students critical thinking.
While these studies have made progress in enhancing the
design of pre-service teacher training courses for fostering critical
thinking abilities, they do not provide systematic and complete
instructional models. The lack of a clear instruction model effectively limits the effectiveness of teaching training and makes it
difcult for teachers who intend to integrate CT instruction in class,
but are unsure of where to begin (Su & Huang, 2006).


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

2.2. Selection of an instructional model for teacher training in

critical thinking
In order to systematically organize critical thinking training for preservice teachers, several systematic instructional design models could
be considered. Instructional system design (ISD) provides guidance for
the instructional designers in design the curriculum and involves steps
for analyzing the environment and learners needs, designing lesson
plans for effective learning, developing learning materials, and after
implementing the designs, and evaluating instruction through formative and summative evaluation (Seels & Richey, 1994). Several ISD
models may be considered, such as the Dick & Carey model, ADDIE
model and Kemp model. While each of these models include the three
main activities of analysis, strategy development and evaluation
(McGriff, 2000), certain differences exist.
The ADDIE model is a systematic instructional design model
consisting of ve phases: (1) analysis, (2) design, (3) development,
(4) implementation, and (5) evaluation (McGriff, 2000). These ve
phases are linked and may sometimes overlap, but represent
a dynamic, exible guideline for developing effective training. The
ADDIE Model is an iterative instructional design process, where the
results of the formative evaluation of each phase may lead the
instructional designer back to any previous phase. The Kemp Model
(Kemp, 1977) emphasizes the adoption of continuous implementation and evaluation through the instructional design process.
The model is systemic and nonlinear; it encourages designers to
work in all areas of ISD as appropriate. The Kemp model is often
visualized as a series of nested ovals, with the inner oval including
revision/formative evaluation activities that can be undertaken at
each stage of the development process. The outer oval includes
a typical post-instruction activity (summative evaluation) and also
highlights three elements usually absent from other models e
namely project planning, project management, and support
services. Developed by Walter Dick and Lou Carey, the Dick & Carey
Model (2005) provides a method for instructional design by
dividing instruction into small parts. Dick and Careys Model,
developed based on the work of Skinner (1958), Mager (1962),
Gagne (1965), and Scriven (1967), is an organic model of instructional design which incorporates elements of various instructional
theories and methods, including Education Psychology, Instructional Psychology, test and assessment, and instructional media.
Since critical thinking instruction requires reection and feedback processes, the Dick and Carey (2005) model is the most
appropriate for the development of CT-related teacher training as it
was the model which best ts the design and format of teacher
education curriculum. Dick and Careys Model is exible in the
sequence of each step. It is designed to allow the instructor to
return to any previous step in response to assessment results,
which assists in presenting and modifying instruction. The Dick &
Carey Model is a systems-based design founded on social
constructivist principles that allows for verication of the meaning
of every instructional step. Critical thinking instruction emphasizes
the process of reection, discussion, and feedback for constructing
logical meaning and determining what to believe. Therefore, it
allows for continuous model revision and integration of teaching
theories with teaching practice. Additionally, studies (e.g., Bello &
Aliyu, 2011) have suggested that the use of the Dick & Carey
model is successful in offering a better understanding of difcult or
complex subject matter, which results in improved academic
performance as well.
2.3. Development of a teacher training course
However, the Dick & Carey Model has not been applied to
a complete model for critical thinking training. Therefore, Yang

(2005) developed a Critical Thinking Instructional Model for Preservice Teachers (CTIMPT), based on the Dick & Carey Model,
a community of learning perspective (Wenger, 1998), social
constructivist principles for encouraging reection, ownership, and
dialog (Tatto, 1998), explication of structural elements for CT
transfer, and metacognitive thinking (Halpern, 1998). The Critical
Thinking Instructional Model for Pre-service Teachers training
procedure includes eight steps (Fig. 1):
1. Identication of instructional goals: The goal is to foster CTS,
CTD, and the ability to independently select teaching materials
for achieving critical thinking-related instructional objectives.
2. Instructional analysis: In the case of CT instruction, CTS
emphasizes the cognitive domain while CTD focuses on the
affective domain.
3. Analyzing learner characteristics: The objective of this step is
to evaluate teaching behaviors, CT ability, and teaching ability.
4. Critical thinking instruction: This phase provides a clear and
logical pattern for guiding participants in designing teaching
plans for effectively integrating CT into instruction.
5. Micro-teaching: After CT-integrated practice teaching, the
instructor conducts a formative evaluation followed by class
discussion and analysis.
6. Completion of teaching plans: Based on the results of
formative evaluation, participants reect and revise their
teaching plans.
7. Revision of instruction: In terms of instructional objectives,
the instructor provides feedback in scaffolding pre-service
teachers in the process of integrating CT into classroom
8. Summative evaluation: Based on the practice teaching process
and revised teaching plans, instructors provide a summative
evaluation of the design for integrating CT into instruction.
Four specic characteristics of the Critical Thinking Instructional
Model for Pre-service Teachers include: (1) An organic perspective:
integration of educational psychology, educational testing and
assessment, and principles of instruction provide a holistic approach
to teacher education (Dick & Carey, 2005). (2) Completeness:
preparation before instruction, instructional activities, and reection after instruction completes the instructional design process. (3)
Feedback: in order to develop CT ability, the instructor provides
feedback, fosters teacher introspection and metacognition (Halpern,
1998), and encourages student participation in discussions. (4)
Design-based research: during preliminary design and experimental implementation, the CT instructional model undergoes
modication in order to better develop and apply the model.
2.4. Implementation of the teacher training course
Participants enrolled in an 18-week CT training course (see
Table 1), one of the pre-service teacher training courses offered by
a Teacher Education Center of a large university in Taiwan. The
purpose of this course was to foster the understanding of fundamental concepts of critical thinking-integrated instruction (CTI)
that will be required during their future careers as teachers. The
course contents included completion of pre-tests and post-test CTS,
CTD, and Teaching Behavior measures, in-class and online discussions, direct instruction on strategies for integrating CT into the
curriculum (including problem-solving, collaborative learning, and
Socratic dialogs), explicit training using the Critical Thinking
Instructional Model for Pre-service Teachers (CTIMPT) instructional
model (Yang, 2005) and microteaching, discussion, and reection.
The results indicated that CTS, CTD, and teaching behavior signicantly improved over the course of the training. Based on the

Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

2. Instructional

7. Revision of


4. Critical Thinking

CT training model

3. Learner

6. Complete
Teaching Plans

8. Summative

Practice Activities

Learning Motivation

Teaching Strategies

Specific Behavior

Instructional Analysis

Instructional Goals

5. Micro-teaching

Learner Characteristics

High-Level CT
Group Discussion
and Reflection

Formative Evaluation

1. Instructional


Summative Evaluation

Note: Solid lines indicate required paths while dotted lines indicate optional paths
Fig. 1. Critical Thinking Instructional Model for Pre-service Teachers (CTIMPT).

positive results of the teacher training program, the current study

was planned in order to explore the transfer of learning from
training to actual classroom practice.
3. Exploring transfer of learning
3.1. Linking critical thinking teacher training with classroom
While quasi-experimental research (Yang, 2005) has demonstrated that the CTIMPT is a clear and effective guideline for
teachers to follow in developing CT training skills, it remains to be
seen whether trained pre-service teachers can successfully transfer
their knowledge into actual classroom settings. Transfer of learning

theory explores how individuals transfer their learning from one

context to another context with shared characteristics (Cormier &
Hagmam, 1987; Perkins & Salomon, 1994). As such, there is
a close relationship between transfer of learning and problemsolving, since transfer of learning generally occurs when previous
knowledge is applied to solve a problem in a new situation
(Ormrod, 2004).
Three important featuresdtask features, learner features, and
organizational featuresdinuence the success of learning transfer
(Barnett, 2005; Marini & Genereux, 1995). Task features include the
similarity of the learning task and target behavior and opportunities for practice, while learner features include attitudes and
dispositions. As such, it is clear that for domains of learning such as
CT, both skills (task features) and dispositions (learner features) are


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

Table 1
Instructional timeline for pre-service teacher training using the CTIMPT.
Week Instructional content



Pre-tests: CTS and CTD

Denition of CT, CTS and CTD
CTD cultivation by online discussion (systematicity
and analyticity)
Modeling and student writing of teaching plans
Direct instruction of CTS strategies: Interpretation
Direct instruction of CTS strategies: Deduction
Direct instruction of CTS strategies: Induction
CTD cultivation by online discussion (open-mindedness)
Direct instruction of CTS strategies: Recognition
of assumptions
Direct instruction of CTS strategies: Evaluation
of arguments
Case-study: CT instructional objectives and performance
CTD cultivation by online discussion (truth-seeking
and curiosity)
Integrated model of CT instruction
CT instructional strategies: Socratic dialogs
CT instructional strategies: Problem-solving and evaluation
CTD cultivation by online discussion (reection)
CT instructional strategy: Collaborative learning
and teaching
Microteaching: Exercise
Microteaching: Discussion
Microteaching: Exercise
Microteaching: Discussion
Integrated model of CT instruction: Participant reection
Post-tests: CTS and CTD



CTS: Critical thinking skills.

CTD: Critical thinking dispositions.
CTI: Critical thinking-integrated instruction competencies, including CT professional
knowledge and teaching behaviors.

important. The design of teacher training programs and relationships among teacher education programs, practicum supervision,
and school placement must also be considered (organizational
Extending the process to transformative learning (Harris,
Lowery-Moore, & Farrow, 2008), teachers engagement in and
experience with the knowledge domain being transferred to
students, particularly for CT-related concepts, becomes increasingly
important for effective integration of a new perspective (Brown,
2003). Transformative learning, which emphasizes cognitive,
affective, and behavioral change, relies strongly upon the responsibility of the instructor as a role model whose personal experiences and critical reection contribute to an environment
conducive to learner transformation. As such, the role of teacher
training in fostering both CT skills and dispositions for instructors
who will be responsible for instilling these same principles in their
learners should not be underestimated.
Section 2 of this paper discussed a CT course for teacher training
using the CTIMPT Model, incorporating instructional methodology,
micro-teaching, and instructional revision processes. However,
successful acquisition and adoption of CTI methods has not yet
been evaluated in terms of the effects of teaching in authentic
classroom settings. Thus, the question of whether pre-service
teachers can effectively transfer their CT training by incorporating
CTI into actual classroom settings is still unanswered.
3.2. The relationship between critical thinking and academic
Previous studies have indicated that there is a link between CT
and academic achievement in subjects such as math (Eshel &

Kohavi, 2003), trigonometry (Villavicencio, 2011), educational

psychology (Phan, 2009), and business (Rodriguez, 2009). The
importance of CT in English language classes (that is, the context
in the current study), however, have not drawn researchers
attention until recently, and the numbers of the studies are rare
(e.g., Birjandi & Bagherkazemi, 2010; Fahim, Bagherkazemi, &
Alemi, 2010; Ghaemi & Taherian, 2011). Both Birjandi and
Bagherkazemi and Ghaemi and Taherian looked into the role
which teachers CT played in their teaching, while Fahim,
Bagherkazemi and Alemi investigated the relationship between 83
advanced EFL learners CT ability and their performance on
a standardized reading test. The latter found that EFL learners
scores of reading increases signicantly with their scores on the
WatsoneGlaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. Nevertheless, whether
CT-integrated instruction (CTI) affects EFL learners academic
performances remains unknown. Thus, the effect of CT-integrated
instruction on students academic (i.e., English) achievement was
examined in the current study.
3.3. Research questions
The purpose of this study was to explore the transfer of
learning from teacher training to classroom practice by examining
the effectiveness of CT-integrated instruction on junior high school
students critical thinking skills (CTS) and critical thinking dispositions (CTD). By including comparison groups in the evaluation,
adopting teaching strategies for traditional, lecture-based
instruction, this study aims to answer the following research
I. Impact of instructional strategies on CT skills
Q1: Will the two instructional strategies (CTI and traditional
instruction) result in improved CTS?
Q2: Will CTI outperform traditional instruction in terms of
II. Impact of instructional strategies on CT dispositions
Q3: Will the two instructional strategies (CTI and traditional
instruction) result in improved CTD?
Q4: Will CTI outperform traditional instruction in terms of
III. Impact of instructional strategies on students academic
Q5: Will CTI outperform traditional instruction in terms of
academic achievement?

4. Methodology and methods

4.1. Recruitment of teacher training graduates
Participants were recruited from graduates of the 18-week CT
training course described in Section 2. Twenty students, 12
females and 8 males, enrolled in the CT-training course and
graduated from the Teacher Education Center. Of these twenty
graduates, three planned to study abroad, three were required to
participate in military service, and seven were preparing for
graduate study. Seven graduates were available for classroom
teaching with various specializations, including math, Mandarin,
social studies, physics, and English. Two of the graduates were
assigned as pre-service English teachers to the same junior high
school and, therefore, were selected as participants in this study,
allowing consistency and comparability between the cases. As can
be seen in Table 2, the two pre-service teachers (cases 7 and 8)
received scores of 86 in the CT-training course, which was the
class average.

Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

Table 2
Participant selection criteria.
Code Gender Age CT nal Specialization Plans






Social studies

Study abroad
Study abroad
Pre-service teaching
Pre-service teaching
Pre-service teaching







Pre-service teaching
Pre-service teaching
Pre-service teaching
Graduate study
Graduate study







Study abroad
Pre-service teaching
Graduate study
Graduate study
Graduate study






Social studies
Earth science

Graduate study
Graduate study
Military service
Military service
Military service



The experiment included four classes: two 7th grade classes, one
experimental group (E1) and one comparison group (C1), and two
8th grade classes, one experimental group (E2) and one comparison
group (C2). Experimental and comparison groups were provided
with the same course content, class schedule, and examinations.
Two 7th grade classes, with 27 and 26 participants, were randomly
assigned to either E1 or C1. Two 8th grade classes, with 25 and 30
participants, were randomly assigned to either E2 or C2.
4.3. Independent and dependent variables
The independent variable was instructional strategy with two
levels: traditional instruction (comparison groups) and CTintegrated instruction (experimental groups). The dependent
variables were measures of students CT including two components, CTS and CTD, as well as academic achievement. CTS was
measured by the CT Test: Level I (CTT-I) (Yeh, 2003), while CTD was
measured by the CT Disposition Scale (CTDS) (Yeh, 1999). These two
tests were administered in Mandarin and were designed for
measuring the CTS and CTD of junior high school students.

4.2. Student participants

The two participating teacher training graduates worked as
English teachers at an urban junior high school in a large city in
Taiwan. This school is located in a culturally rich and historic area
with two major universities nearby. Students homes are typically
equipped with computers and Internet access. While average
household disposable income in this district is slightly higher than
the national average, 80% of families are considered middle class,
with parents owning their home. The school is considered large
with more than 75 classes and 3000 students. The teacherestudent
ratio is approximately 15:1. Instruction is monolingual, in Mandarin
Chinese, apart from English classes.
The students in both groups learned English since third grade
and, therefore, have four years of English learning experience
before entering junior high school. During seventh and eighth
grade, students study English for 180 min per week, with lecturetype grammar-focused instruction being typical. For the classes
included in this study, homeroom teachers indicated no cases of
behavioral or cognitive problems.

4.3.1. Critical thinking skills

The CTT-I includes ve subscales for measuring CTS: recognition
of assumptions, induction, deduction, interpretations, and evaluation of arguments (see Table 3). The CTT-I consists of 25 multiplechoice questions and requires 25 min to complete. One point is
awarded for each correct answer for a maximum score of 25. The
Cronbach a of the CTT-I is .76. A sample question from the induction
sub-scale of the CTT-I is presented below:
Weather forecast: The weather for tomorrow is predicted to be
humid and windless. As such, schools are advised to decrease
the number of outdoor activities to avoid heatstroke. Based on
the information above, which of the following inductions is
most reasonable?
A: It will be a very rainy day tomorrow.
B: Air pollution will be severe tomorrow.
C: The temperature will be high tomorrow.

4.3.2. Critical thinking dispositions

The CT Disposition Scale (CTDS) (Yeh, 1999) measures four
subscales of CTD. The four subscales are systematicity and

Table 3
Denition of CTS and CTD.
Critical thinking skills

Critical thinking

1. Recognition of assumptions

1. Systematicity and analyticity

The ability to identify statements or claims implicit in general premises.

The tendency toward being organized, ordered, and inferential.
2. Induction
2. Open-mindedness
The ability to infer the most likely outcome from known facts.
3. Deduction
The ability to use reason to draw a necessary conclusion
from two given premises.
4. Interpretation
The ability to determine which phenomenon or causal relationships are
implied by given statements.
5. Evaluation of arguments
The ability to assess the strength of an argument.

Willingness to consider other points of view and demonstrate awareness of self-bias.

3. Truth-seeking and curiosity
The trait of seeking knowledge and asking questions.
4. Reection
The tendency to reect and correct during the problem solving process.


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

analyticity, open-mindedness and empathy, truth-seeking and

curiosity, and reection (Table 3). It consists of 20 questions and
requires 10 min to complete. A Likert-type scale, ranging from
never (1 point) to always (6 points), is utilized for measuring selfreported agreement with a series of statements. The Cronbach
a of the CTDS is .86, which demonstrated good reliability. An
example for the sub-scale of systematicity and analyticity reads:
Even when facing a complicated question, I attempt to maintain
rational and logical thinking. Another item for the CTDS sub-scale
of open-mindedness and empathy reads: I try to listen and show
respect for other peoples opinions during discussions. For truthseeking and curiosity, students rate their agreement with the
statement I attempt to further explore new topics or new sides of
an issue. For the sub-scale of reection, one item includes: I
attempt to self-evaluate my arguments and decide whether my
viewpoints are persuasive enough for other people to believe.
4.3.3. English academic achievement
To examine students academic achievement, the post-test
English achievement tests were developed for 7th and 8th grade
participants, based on the course content, by the pre-service
teachers, their supervisory teachers, and the researcher. The
content/expert validity of the test was achieved through the
cooperation of the pre-service teachers who taught research
classes, their supervisory teachers (with about 15 years of teaching
experience), and the researcher, who is a professor specializing in
digital English learning and CT. The test consisted of four sections:
a) vocabulary, b) grammar and sentence patterns, c) reading, and d)
writing. The sub-total for each section was 25, with a total score of
100. The rst two sections were comprised of ten cloze questions
(for each section), while the reading comprehension section
included ten multiple choice questions. The writing section
involved 2 parts: telling a story from pictures and a persuasive
essay. For the 7th grade test, telling a story from pictures was based
on the topic You are what you eat! with food-related terms and
phrases and sentence patterns covered in class. The persuasive
essay examined learners ability to present arguments concerning
the issue of Should corporal punishment of children be illegal?
For each writing part, students were asked to write a 100-word
composition. Writing was evaluated based on the General English
Prociency Test (GEPT) Level 1 Writing Rubric, on a scale from 0 to
5 (a sense of completeness and wholeness with adherence to the
main idea/argument, correct expression and/or exemplications,
organization, provision of logical reasons, and few errors in
grammar or use of word choice and sentence pattern).
The test time was 80 min. After two 6-h training sessions, two
ratersdone pre-service teacher and her supervisory teacher, separately evaluated 10 students writing tests over 2 rounds. Miles and
Hubermans (1994) inter-rater reliability formula was used to calculate inter-rater reliability. Inter-rater reliability was measured at 85%
agreement for the rst round and 92% for the second round; the
second round met Miles and Hubermans general standard of 90%.

4.4. Procedures
The research procedure includes two parts: CT teacher training
and a formal study for evaluating pre-service teachers transfer of
CT learning. The teacher training (based on the instructional model
developed in Section 1.4) was conducted the year before the formal
study. Two graduates from this teacher training class were then
recruited to serve as instructors for a quasi-experimental study,
evaluating transfer of learning from the pre-service training to
classroom practice. Procedures for the formal quasi-experimental
study are included below.

Participants in the comparison and experimental groups

completed a CTS and CTD pre-test (week 1) and a CTS and CTD posttest (week 12) e for a total of four tests e using instruments (the CTTI and CTDS) designed for junior high school students and available in
Mandarin. A timeline for the formal study, including which learning
outcomes (CTS or CTD) were addressed, is provided (see Table 4).
For the comparison group, pre-service teachers adopted traditional instruction. Pre-service teachers taught English using the
Grammar-Translation Approach, wherein students learned by
taking notes and memorizing selected vocabulary and sentence
structures, generally provided standardized answers for exercises
and exams with less discussion of alternative solutions.
For the experimental group, pre-service teachers independently
designed and implemented lesson plans that combined English
instruction with CTS and CTD based on the CT instructional model
that they had learned during the teacher education course. To
enhance the ve categories of CTS (recognition of assumptions,
inference, deductions, interpretations and evaluation of arguments), pre-service teachers adopted various CTS instructional
strategies (see Section 4.4), rather than traditional instructional
techniques. For example, pre-service teachers took advantage of
Socratic dialogs to lead students to think critically and logically.
Students would actively acquire more extensive knowledge and
construct meaning in the target domain through Socratic dialogs. In
addition, pre-service teachers offered thought-provoking questions
to motivate students thinking. Gradually, students developed the
capability to recognize assumptions, make inductions and deductions, evaluate arguments, and interpret the meaning of statements, abilities associated with CTS. Examples of activities for
fostering CTS and CTD are provided below (See Table 5).
4.5. Instructional strategies
4.5.1. CTS instructional strategies
Based on their experience in the CT-instruction training program,
pre-service teachers were able to incorporate elements of collaborative learning, problem-centered instruction, and Socratic questioning.
Through group discussion and collaborative learning, students
learned from others and were encouraged to respect opinions that
were different from their own. As a result, students were more willing
to engage in introspection, metacognition, and awareness of their
attitudes toward problem-solving, while continuing to develop selfreection. Socratic questioning allowed the instructor to challenge
participants to examine their own assumptions, evaluate evidence for
their viewpoints, and probe issues more deeply. Examples of
instructional methods for developing evaluation of arguments and
recognition of assumptions are provided below:
Table 4
Timeline of the formal study for evaluating pre-service teachers transfer of learning.

Instructional activities


Pre-tests: CTS (CTT-I) and CTD (CTDS)

Denitions of CT, CTS and CTD
Recognition of assumptions: Socratic questioning
Systematicity and analyticity: Autobiography
Induction: Summary and title creation
Open-mindedness: In-class discussion
Deduction: Deductive logic scenarios
Truth-seeking and curiosity: Story-telling
and questioning
Interpretation: Personal reection
Reection: Online forum
Evaluation of arguments: Argumentative writing
Post-tests: CTS (CTT-I) and CTD (CTDS)


CTS: Critical thinking skills.

CTD: Critical thinking dispositions.


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130


Table 5
Evaluating transfer of learning: Instructional design for the experimental group.

Recognition of assumptions


Evaluation of arguments

Systematicity and analyticity

Open-mindedness and empathy

Truth-seeking and curiosity


Sample instructional activities


Socratic questioning: In order to probe their own assumptions and the implicit claims of others,
the teacher modeled Socratic questioning and encouraged the participation of students as question-posers.
Summary and title creation: Participants were provided with opportunities to draw
inferences from various English source materials (including cartoons, gures, articles, and photographs)
by writing an appropriate title or summary for the content.
Deductive logic scenarios: Given a set of premises, presented in the form of an English story or article,
participants were asked to determine the most reasonable ending or conclusion based on the facts.
Personal reection: In order to demonstrate their comprehension of the causal relationships implied by
source materials, participants wrote a personal reection paragraph for a news report which discussed a
controversial issue that was applicable to their daily life.
Argumentative writing: Students conducted research and collaboratively engaged in writing a short
argumentative essay on a controversial issue. Students were required to take a stance (pro or con), develop
logical arguments for their perspective, and respond critically to feedback from the instructor.


Autobiography: Students were assigned readings from autobiographical articles about famous thinkers
which demonstrated truth-seeking and curiosity. Participants then discussed in class which attributes of
that leader were instrumental in achieving success and fame.
In-class discussion: Based on a topic related to students daily life (i.e., suggested changes in school hours),
in class discussions were used extensively to foster students open-mindedness, awareness of others
perspectives, and condence in speaking out their own opinions.
Storytelling and questioning: Well-known English stories, such as Cinderella, and historical accounts of
model critical thinkers, such as James Watson, were as a platform from which to engage in Socratic questioning.
Online forum: In order to achieve a broader perspective on an issue, and to evaluate their own thinking,
students interacted and worked collaboratively through asynchronous postings on an online forum.

W4 Recognition of assumptions (Socratic questioning). In order

to probe their own assumptions and the implicit claims of others,
the teacher modeled Socratic questioning and encouraged the
participation of students as question-posers. For this unit, the
instructor raised the issue of typhoons and the resulting loss of life
to people living in mountainous areas. Since the majority of individuals who suffer from landslides and strong winds caused by
typhoons are aboriginals, both historical and cultural issues concerning the settlements of indigenous peoples in these areas were
discussed. In addition, questions concerning the responsibility of
the government in establishing soil and water conservation
projects, providing disaster relief, and funding land-slide prevention programs were raised. Evaluation of arguments (argumentative writing). Students
conducted research and collaboratively engaged in a writing an
argumentative essay on the topic of government relocation of
aboriginals to prevent loss of life due to typhoons. Students were
required to take a stance (pro or con), develop logical arguments for
their perspective, and respond critically to the feedback provided
by the instructor. During the writing process, students were
required to support their arguments with objective facts, anticipate
and proactively defend their stance against counter-arguments, as
well as respond to peer and instructor feedback on the validity of
their argumentation and the clarity of their writing.
4.5.2. CTD instructional strategies
Based on teacher training in instructional strategies for fostering
CTD, pre-service teachers emphasized feedback, encouragement,
and story-telling as models for promoting positive attitudes toward
CT. Students were provided with immediate and positive feedback
and oral/written encouragement to stimulate CT learning, allowing
encouragement and sufcient time for students to think independently and express their opinions. One valuable method adopted by
pre-service teachers was the inclusion of stories in the students
communication books, which could be read at home, shared with
their parents, and discussed during class in the following weeks.
Examples of instructional methods for developing truth-seeking and
curiosity and openmindedness and empathy are provided below:





W10 Truth seeking and curiosity (storytelling and questioning). Pre-service teachers shared examples or stories of celebrities who demonstrated certain behavioral or attitudinal
characteristics of CT to reinforce students CTD. For instance, to
increase students inquisitiveness, the story of James Dewey Watson, the father of DNA, was shared. James Dewey Watson was
awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. His
achievements were a result of his curiosity during school life. He
believed that everyone should not only have his or her own point of
view but also discover why they hold this view, in order to
emphasize the importance of truth-seeking. Openmindedness and empathy (in class discussion). One
example of in-class discussion for CTD development integrated into
English language instruction involved the story of Cinderella. The
teacher read the story to the students while posing thoughtprovoking questions to foster CT, including the trait of openmindedness. Students were asked to think of any positive attributes
for the step mother and consider what they would have done if
they were in her position. These questions were intended to expand
the students viewpoints and encourage discussion. In response to
these questions, students provided some interesting insights,
including the following comments: I would also have prevented
Cinderella from attending the ball, since I would want my own
daughter to become queen, It is natural that mothers love their
own children more than others, and The step mothers cold
attitude helped Cinderella to develop independence and personal
strength. Such discussion provided opportunities for participants
to increase their exibility and awareness of the viewpoints of
others while considering alternative conclusions for a well-known
4.6. Data analysis
CTS and CTD data were analyzed using a two-way mixed design
ANOVA, in which the instructional treatment was a betweensubject factor, while the measurement occasion was a withinsubject factor. Under the 2  2 mixed design, the instructional
treatment was divided into two levels (CTI and traditional


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

Table 6
Means and standard deviations for CTS, CTD, and academic achievement scores.
Dependent variable


Comparison group



Academic achievement

Experimental group















instruction) and the measurement occasion was also divided into

two levels (pre-test and post-test). Data from 7th and 8th grade
participants were evaluated by separate 2  2 mixed design
English academic achievement data were analyzed using a oneway ANCOVA. The students pre-test scores were retrieved from the
previous semesters English academic achievement scores to make
sure the both groups were at the same level of starting point at the
beginning of the research. English academic achievement, as
mentioned in Section 5.2, was administered at the end of the
research and served as the post-test for this study.

experimental groups showed improved performance on the posttest (English nal exam after instruction) than the comparison
5.2. CTS results
5.2.1. 7th grade participants
The results of two-way mixed design ANOVA indicate a signicant interaction between instructional treatment and measurement occasion, F(1, 51) 9.06, p .00, h2 .15. In order to better
understand the mechanism underlying this interaction, simple
main effects analysis was conducted. A signicant difference was
found between the pre-test scores and the post-test scores for the
critical thinking-integrated instruction (CTI) group, F(1, 51) 26.85,
p .00, h2 .51, but no signicant mean difference was found
between the scores for the traditional learning group, F(1,
51) 2.23, p .15. While no signicant mean differences were
found between the CTI and traditional instruction group on the pretest, F(1, 102) .02, p .89, a signicant difference was found
between the scores for the post-test, F(1, 102) 4.73, p .03,
h2 .09 (see Table 8).

5. Results
5.1. Descriptive statistics
Raw CTS and CTD scores were rst converted into T scores, with
the pre-test scores of the experimental group serving as the reference group, allowing comparisons across groups to be made in equal
units. The mean scores and standard deviations for total scores
(Table 6) and subscale scores (Table 7) for CTS and CTD pre-test and
post-test results are reported below. It is interesting to note that the
total scores of the pre-test CTS and CTD showed that 8th grade
students had higher CTS and CTD than 7th grade students on both
the pre-test and post-test. For a visual comparison, an illustration of
CTS and CTD total scores and sub-scores for both grades and both the
comparison and experimental groups is provided (see Figs. 2e4).
Table 6 also provides descriptive statistics, including means and
standard deviations for academic achievement scores. Both

5.2.2. 8th grade participants

Results from two-way mixed design ANOVA indicate that the
interaction between instructional treatment and measurement
occasion was signicant, F(1, 53) 8.71, p .00, h2 .14. To further
clarify the reason for this interaction, simple main effects analysis
was conducted. A signicant difference was found between the pretest scores and the post-test scores for the CTI group, F(1, 53) 27.07,
p .00, h2 .53, but no signicant difference was found for the

Table 7
Means and standard deviations for CTS and CTD subscales.
Dependent variables



Comparison group


7th Grade

8th Grade


7th Grade

8th Grade

Recognition of assumptions
Evaluation of arguments
Recognition of assumptions
Evaluation of arguments
Systematicity and analyticity
Open-mindedness and empathy
Truth-seeking and curiosity
Systematicity and analyticity
Open-mindedness and empathy
Truth-seeking and curiosity

Experimental group















Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130


Fig. 2. CTS and CTD total scores for seventh and eighth grade participants.

traditional instruction group, F(1, 53) 1.58, p .22. Additionally,

while no signicant mean differences were found between the CTI
and traditional instruction group on the pre-test, F(1, 106) .46,
p .50, a signicant difference was found between post-test scores,
F(1, 106) 16.46, p .00, h2 .24 (see Table 8).

5.3. CTD results

5.3.1. 7th grade participants
The results of a two-way mixed design ANOVA indicated
a signicant interaction between instructional treatment and

Fig. 3. Seventh and eighth grade CTS subscale scores.


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

Fig. 4. Seventh and eighth grade CTD subscale scores.

measurement occasion, F(1, 51) 34.23, p .00, h2 .40. Thus

simple main effects analysis was conducted. A signicant difference
was found between pre-test scores and post-test scores for the CTI
group, F(1, 51) 57.90, p .00, h2 .69, but no signicant mean
differences was found for the traditional instruction group, F(1,
51) .34, p .57. Additionally, no signicant mean differences were
found between CTI and traditional instruction on the pre-test, F(1,
102) .05, p .83, while a signicant difference was found for the
post-test, F(1, 102) 69.64, p .00, h2 .58 (see Table 9).
5.3.2. 8th grade participants
The results of a two-way mixed design ANOVA indicated a signicant interaction between instructional treatment and measurement
occasion, F(1, 53) 36.48, p .00, h2 .41. To further understand this
phenomenon, simple main effects analysis was conducted. A signicant difference was found between pre-test scores and post-test scores
for the CTI group, F(1, 53) 49.53, p .00, h2 .67, but no signicant
mean differences were found for the traditional instruction group, F(1,
53) .40, p .53. Moreover, no signicant mean differences were
found between the CTI and traditional instruction group on the preTable 8
Main effects, interaction effect, and simple main effects for CTS.

Factor (condition)

7th grade

Main effects Occasion
Occasion  treatment
Simple main Occasion (traditional
Occasion (CT-integrated 26.85*
Treatment (pre-test)
Treatment (post-test)
Note: *p < .05.

.00 .32
.26 .02
.00 .15
.15 .08

5.4. Academic achievement

5.4.1. 7th grade participants
By including previous semester English achievement scores as
covariates, ANCOVA analysis (see Table 10) reveals a signicantly
higher overall performance for participants in the CT-integrated
instruction group on the academic achievement post-test, F(1,
50) 18.26, p .00, partial h2 .27. The results suggest that the CTintegrated instruction was successful in improving learners
academic achievement in English, relative to the performance of
the comparison group.
5.4.2. 8th grade participants
By including previous semester English achievement scores as
covariates, ANCOVA analysis (see Table 10) reveals a signicantly
higher overall performance for participants in the CT-integrated
instruction group on the academic achievement post-test, F(1,
Table 9
Main effects, interaction effect, and simple main effects for CTD.

8th grade
Partial F

test, F(1, 106) .05, p .83, but a signicant difference was found for
the post-test, F(1, 106) 62.40, p .00, h2 .54 (see Table 9).


Factor (condition)

7th grade


21.72* .00 .29
6.10* .02 .10
8.71* .00 .14

.22 .05

.00 .51

27.07* .00 .53

.89 .00
.03 .09

.46 .50 .01

16.46* .00 .24

8th grade
Partial F

Main effects Occasion
Occasion  treatment
Simple main Occasion (traditional
Occasion (CT-integrated
Treatment (pre-test)
Treatment (post-test)
Note: *p < .05.

42.44* .00 .45

16.89* .00 .25
34.23* .00 .40

.57 .00


44.81* .00 .46
30.12* .00 .36
36.49* .00 .41

.53 .01

57.90* .00 .69

49.53* .00 .67

.05 .83 .00

69.64* .00 .58

.05 .83 .00

62.40* .00 .54

Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

Table 10
Analysis of covariance for academic achievement.

7th grade

8th grade


















52) 8.31, p .01, partial h2 .14. The results suggest that the CTintegrated instruction was successful in improving learners
academic achievement in English, relative to the performance of
the comparison group.
6. Discussion
6.1. Discussion of CTS
As shown in Table 11, in terms of within-group effects, post-test
CTT-I scores for the comparison groups were not signicantly higher
than pre-test scores for both 7th and 8th grade participants. This
suggests that traditional instruction was not successful in enhancing
students CTS. On the other hand, for the experimental group, post-test
CTT-I scores were higher than the pre-test scores for both 7th and 8th
grade participants. This result indicates that CT-integrated instruction
was benecial in fostering students CTS, since experimental group
students CTS improved after learning with CTI.
For between-groups effects, post-test CTT-I total scores for the
experimental group were higher than those of the comparison
group for both 7th and 8th grade participants. Since the CTT-I scores
for the experimental group were statistically higher than the scores
of the comparison group, pre-service teachers were effective in
transferring their learning of CT in order to cultivate students CTS in
authentic classroom environments. The success of these two preservice teachers in transferring their experience in micro-teaching
during CT-training to actual classroom settings coincides with
previous research conducted by Daud and Husin (2004) who
concluded that CT-integrated instruction can promote CTS.
The signicant improvement by the experimental groups (CTI)
relative to the comparison groups (traditional instruction), can be
explained by the instructional design implemented by the two
teachers. CT-integrated instructional strategies emphasized social
constructivist principles such as collaborative learning, scaffolded
learning, and dialog (Tatto, 1998). While some of the activities
provided by CT-integrated instruction, such as collaborative argumentative writing for fostering evaluation of arguments, were
novel and challenging for students, others, such as title creation
tasks for developing inductive reasoning, were more familiar but
inherently interesting. Critical thinking training and development
of CT-integrated instructional strategies involved an emphasis on
Table 11
Summary of research results for critical thinking skills.



Within-group effect
(improvement in CTS)


CTI: O1 < O2
TLI: O1 O2


CTI: O1 < O2
TLI: O1 O2

effect (comparison of
instructional strategies)

understanding the structure of arguments and developing reective and metacognitive skills, such as monitoring and reection
(Halpern, 1998), which assisted teachers and students in better
understanding their own biases (recognition of assumptions) and
developing a critical perspective for assessing the strengths and
weaknesses of other perspectives (evaluation of arguments).
During CT-training, an emphasis was placed on teacher questioning using case studies or stories (Wood & Anderson, 2001). In
this study, the two pre-service teachers successful in incorporating
Socratic questioning strategies (recognition of assumptions) and
activities such as deductive logic scenarios (deduction) and
personal reection on news stories (interpretation), which were
integral to the development of CTS. In other cases, direct instruction
of CT skills were provided (Daud & Husin, 2004), particularly for
deductive and inductive logic, which involved reasoning skills that
students had not previously learned. Overall, the emphasis on
transformative learning experienced during pre-service teacher
training allowed instructors to both model CTS through critical
discourse and provide feedback and opportunities for reection
which allowed students and teachers to co-construct meaning
(Brown, 2003; Harris et al., 2008).
It should be noted that while improvements on all sub-scales
was observed for the experimental group, the interpretation subscale was also improved through traditional instruction. This is
quite possibly due to the fact that lecture-type instructional strategies, such as the Grammar Translation method for English
instruction, require a greater amount of repetition and testing for
comprehension of source materials, which resulted in an increased
ability to interpret the implications of certain statements. As well,
the emphasis of traditional instruction on answering essay questions may have resulted in more opportunities for practicing
interpretation skills related to CT.
6.2. Discussion of CTD
As shown in Table 12, in terms of within groups effects, post-test
CTD total scores were not signicantly higher than the pre-test total
scores for either 7th grade and 8th grade comparison groups participants. On the other hand, post-test CTD total scores for experimental
group participants were higher than their pre-test total scores. This
result suggests that the CT-integrated instruction designed by the
teachers were instrumental in improving students CTD.
Concerning between-groups effects, post-test CTD total scores
for the experimental group were higher than those of the
comparison group for both 7th and 8th grade participants. These
ndings suggest that after CT was integrated into instruction,
students CTD improved; thus, the provision of effective CTD
examples or stories may foster junior high school students CTD
cultivation (Yeh, 1999). In the cases of the two pre-service teachers
in this study, CT teacher training model and strategies learned
Table 12
Summary of research results for critical thinking dispositions.


Grade Within-group effect

Statistical analysis
(improvement in CTD) effect (comparison of
instructional strategies)

2-way mixed


CTI: O1 < O2
TLI: O1 O2

2-way mixed


CTI: O1 < O2
TLI: O1 O2

Post-test: CTI > TLI

Post-test: CTI > TLI

O1: Pre-test score.
O2: Post-test score.
CTI: Critical thinking-integrated instruction.
TLI: Traditional learning instruction.


2-way mixed ANOVA

Post-test: CTI > TLI
2-way mixed ANOVA
Post-test: CTI > TLI

O1: Pre-test score.

O2: Post-test score.
CTI: Critical thinking-integrated instruction.
TLI: Traditional learning instruction.


Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

during teacher training can be transferred successfully into a junior

high school teaching environment.
In light of the evident improvement of the experimental group on
each of the CTD sub-scales with no improvement noted for the
comparison group, certain suggestions can be made. The inuence on
teacher beliefs which resulted from CT teacher training was reected
in the positive results for the experimental group, since instructors
were better able to provide an environment conducive to reective
thinking and design, implementation, and assessment of CT activities
which motivated learners to adopt a critical attitude toward learning
(Warburton & Torff, 2005). Social constructivist-based teaching
strategies were also effective for fostering CTD, since cooperative
learning and reciprocal teaching (Brown & Palincsar, 1989; Tatto,
1998) were effectively implemented throughout the course of the
experiment. In fact, the extensive use of in-class discussions (openmindedness and empathy) and storytelling with questioning (truthseeking and curiosity) were integral to developing participants
willingness to engage in critical discourse and consider alternative
perspectives. In terms of systematicity and analyticity, instructors
were able to successfully transfer their teacher training experiences,
which offered an organic, complete, reective, and iterative process
for integrating CT into instruction. From a transfer of learning
approach to a transformative learning perspective, it appears that
there was an effective inuence of the teachers own experience and
engagement in developing CTS and CTD on their ability to foster
cognitive, affective, and behavioral change in the classroom.

inductive and deductive reasoning, and solve problems analytically

(Liaw, 2007). In addition to the benets of CT in language learning, it
is possible that learners in the CT-integrated groups were able to use
their enhanced critical thinking to outperform participants in the
regular instruction groups on the academic achievement exam
through CT skills such as induction, deduction, and interpretation,
for example. Thus, improved CT allowed participants in the experimental groups both a linguistic advantage and the skills necessary to
perform more effectively on tests.
The nature of the activities designed by the instructors for the
CTI groups, however, must also be considered likely to positively
impact academic achievement as well. As compared to traditional
instruction, CTI courses included activities which were more
collaborative (including online forum interactions and group
debates), authentic (including personal reections and autobiographies), challenging (such as argumentative writing and Socratic
questioning) and inherently engaging (such as storytelling and
discussion activities). By designing activities to enhance learner CT,
instructors were also successful in providing interesting and
engaging opportunities for students to interact meaningfully with
the subject matter and participate in a student-centered and activelearning environment. Instead of distracting students from the
subject-matter, as some writers suggest, CT activities allow for
a greater level of interaction, participation, and relevance, resulting
in improved academic achievement.
7. Limitations and further suggestions

6.3. Discussion of academic achievement

As shown in Table 13, the results indicate that the CT-integrated
English instruction had a positive impact on participants academic
performance, as measured by the English nal exam. That is,
learners in the CT-integrated instruction classes for both 7th grade
and 8th grade outperformed learners who studied under regular
instructional conditions. Thus, the advantage of CT-integrated
instruction is not limited to measures of critical thinking, but also
inuences learner academic performance in subject-specic
achievement measures. Two possible explanations for this nding
are considered. First, the close relationship between critical
thinking and language may explain how students achievement
scores (measured by language prociency in English) were directly
inuenced by improvement in critical thinking. Second, the critical
thinking-integrated instructional strategies and activities adopted
in this study may have been effective in fostering both critical
thinking and language development (academic achievement)
simultaneously, as compared to typical classroom activities associated with English language learning in Taiwan.
In consideration of the rst point, certain scholars (Birjandi &
Bagherkazemi, 2010; Fahim et al., 2010; Ghaemi & Taherian, 2011)
have examined the role of CT in facilitating the acquisition of
language, nding that higher levels of CTS are associated with higher
levels of achievement on language tests. Studies have shown that CT
skills are advantageous in developing a deep and procient use of
language by allowing learners to evaluate alternatives, perform
Table 13
Summary of research results for academic achievement.

Between-groups effect
(comparison of
instructional strategies)

Statistical analysis


Post-test: CTI > TLI

Post-test: CTI > TLI

1-way ANCOVA
1-way ANCOVA

O1: Pre-test score.

O2: Post-test score.
CTI: Critical thinking-integrated instruction.
TLI: Traditional learning instruction.

Based on the ndings of this study, certain limitations and

suggestions for future research in the area of teacher training for
CT-integrated instruction are provided, such as using larger sample
of teacher training graduates to evaluate transfer of learning,
exploring transfer of CT-training to different subject areas, and the
development of qualitative approaches.
The major limitation of this study was the number of teacher
training graduates evaluated for transfer of learning. While positive
results for the two participants were obtained, it cannot be
concluded that this nding is representative of the CT-training used
in this study or the CTIMPT instructional model in general. The
development of CT-training courses for teacher training is recommended, based on these primary empirical ndings, but should be
evaluated with a larger, representative sample of CT-training
graduates in order to avoid bias and obtain reliable results for
purposes of program evaluation.
In terms of subject area, the present study incorporated CTintegrated instruction into English classes. Future research with
pre-service teacher training in CT could apply these research ndings
to courses such as biology, mathematics, or history. Such studies could
help to expand and validate the ndings of this paper to examine the
transfer of learning from pre-service teacher training to classroom
practice. As with this paper, the impact on academic achievement, as
measured by standardized tests or the evaluation of student work, is
an important consideration. Including authentic and reliable
measures of student achievement for other subjects, such as mathematics and sciences, would provide a valuable basis for the recommendation of CT-integrated teacher training classes which
demonstrate effectiveness in promoting student achievement.
In terms of measurement instruments, students CTS and CTD in
this study were quantied by the CTT-I and CTDS instruments.
Future research should include greater qualitative data analyses,
such as in-class observations and in-depth interviews. As such, indepth interviews may be helpful for evaluating the thoughts and
opinions of students concerning the course content and instructional approaches. Additionally, the use of student work or portfolios would be useful in the analysis of transfer of learning from

Y.-T.C. Yang / Teaching and Teacher Education 28 (2012) 1116e1130

CT-related concepts to student writing or homework. Overall,

a more holistic approach to data collection and analysis would
better capture the effects of CT-integrated instruction on student CT
skills and dispositions through the evaluation of student work,
instructor observations, and participant feedback.
8. Conclusion
Critical thinking is indispensible for 21st century teaching and
learning. In order for learners to acquire, practice, and perfect their
critical thinking, teachers must rst possess and develop these very
same skills and dispositions. In fact, teachers engagement in and
experience with the knowledge domain being transferred to
students is particularly important for CT-related concepts (Brown,
2003). The instructional model for critical thinking teacher
training presented in this paper offers a framework for equipping
individuals with strategies and experiences for personal and
professional development as a critical thinker and teacher. During
the CT-training employed in this study, pre-service teachers
demonstrated signicant improvements demonstrated in terms of
their personal critical thinking skills and dispositions. Empirical
results from two graduates of this CT-training course demonstrate
that these CT skills and dispositions can be successfully transferred
to learners in the context of CT-enhanced English classes.
The two graduates of teacher training in critical thinking evaluated in this study were effective in independently developing
instructional strategies, designing learning activities, and leading
class discussions that resulted in statistically signicant improvements in CTS, CTD, and academic achievement as compared to
students learning with traditional instruction. The additional
nding of signicant improvement in academic achievement is
evidence of the link between critical thinking and academic
performance in other areas, as well as the close relationship
thinking and language. This echoes the ndings of other
researchers, such as Collins (1991) and Fahim et al. (2010), which
demonstrate the inuence of CTS on achievement in language arts
and reading. Given an increasing emphasis on academic achievement scores and the use of testing for evaluating school performance and allocating scare resources, the effectiveness of CTintegrated teacher education and classroom instruction in
enhancing academic performance suggests that an emphasis on
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Ya-Ting C. Yang is an associate professor at the Institute of Education and Center for
Teacher Education at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan. Her research interests
are in the eld of educational research, higher order thinking skills, and the role of
information and communication technologies for improving teaching and learning
processes. Her email address is



Cultivating critical thinkers: Exploring transfer of learning from pre-service teacher training to classroom