Type of Document Dissertation Author Pellegrino, Anthony Michael URN etd-07092007-212052 Title The Manifestation of Critical Thinking and Metacognition in Secondary American History Students through the Implementation of Lesson Plans and Activities Consistent with Historical Thinking Skills Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Middle and Secondary Education, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Robert Gutierrez Committee Co-Chair Sarah Drake Brown Committee Co-Chair Diana Rice Committee Member Norbert Seel Committee Member Keywords
- Critical Thinking
- Historical Thinking
Date of Defense 2007-06-01 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
The intent of this study was to determine the effect teaching students to think “historically” in high school American history had on their metacognitive skills and ability to think critically. According to many researchers, encouraging students to employ historical thinking skills is key to engaging students in history. History, according to Wineburg, “holds the potential, only partially realized, of humanizing us in ways offered by few other areas of the school curriculum” (2001, p. 7). Although critical thinking is widely described as a desirable proficiency and studied extensively by researchers such as Diane Halpern and Robert Ennis, its definition has been vague, inclusion in curriculum has been sporadic at best, and its addition into history curriculum has been even less (Halpern, 1989). And while research tells us that metacognitive skills are teachable to students, most teachers know little about how to include such teaching in course curricula.
Using the concept of historical thinking as a guide to classroom methodology, teachers may be better able to illustrate examples of critical thinking and metacognition, thereby helping students develop these highly touted abilities through opportunities within the contexts of a history classroom. This study provided teachers at three high schools American history lesson plans to incorporate attributes of historical thinking with students during the 2006-2007 school year. Students took a pre and post critical thinking assessment to determine any change in abilities. Additionally, some participated in think-aloud sessions to assess their abilities to metacognitively process the historical information. During the same time these teachers gave another class of students the pre and posttests. These comparison group students were provided with another treatment not associated with the historical thinking treatment.
The intention of this research was first, to discern if a connection existed between historical thinking and critical thinking and metacognition and second, to determine if guiding students in the practices of historical thinking had any relation to enhancing students’ critical thinking abilities and metacognitive skills. Data from both sets of tests and interviews were analyzed to ascertain differences between classes and individual students. The results of this study indicated that differences between experimental and comparison groups were not statistically significant (p>.05). However, from the think-aloud sessions students from the experimental group demonstrated sophisticated conceptual understanding of complex historical content based on examination of multiple and conflicting sources.
The results of this study are not generalizable to all high school students enrolled in an American history course. The study does contribute to the growing field of historical thinking, demonstrating that the complexities of such thinking skills may not have been easily transferable outside the history classroom to non-domain specific critical thinking skills. Yet qualitative data suggested sophisticated understanding of multifarious content by participants who received the treatment of lesson plans consistent with historical thinking.
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