Critical Thinking, Monash University, 2006

Results from critical thinking tests

Peer Instruction was used in the lectures for a first-year critical thinking unit at Monash university. Approximately 4-6 questions were used in each one-hour lecture. Students in this course were pre- and post-tested using a standardised test of critical thinking ability, the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). 40 of the students enrolled in the course completed both pre- and post-tests and gave permission for their scores to be used as data for the study. The sample consisted of 18 females and 22 males. Ages ranged from 17 to 26. The median age was 19 years, the mode (most frequent age) was 18 years (30%). The largest proportion of students were in their first year of university (52.5%) and enrolled in an Arts degree (57.5%). Students showed a statistically significant gain in critical thinking test scores of 0.4 standard deviations (p < 0.05). For comparison, students enrolled in the same course in 2004, taught without PI, showed an average gain of 0.2 standard deviations. The chart below compares this result to that obtained in previous semesters, in which the course was taught using a variety of pedagogical methods. PI compares favourably with the most successful method we have investigated – intensive computer-assisted argument mapping exercises (Semester 1, 2004).

This research was carried out as part of a broader study, to compare the effectiveness of several different methods for teaching critical thinking. For further information, please see The Monash Critical Thinking Study