Evaluating the Effects of School Curriculum on Students’ Critical Thinking Skills

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The development of critical thinking represents a key objective of all school curricula, and any authentic education must include the development of critical thinking. This study examined the critical thinking skills of students in grade 12 (N=100). The participants study in different private schools that offer different school curricula; American Curriculum that is aligned to Connecticut Standards in Site A, British Curriculum aligned to the English National Standards in Site B, US curriculum that is newly aligned to Common Core State Standards and New Generation Science Standards in Site C, International Baccalaureate in Site D, and another US curriculum that is aligned to CCSS and Connecticut Standards in Site E. Critical thinking was assessed using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test Version X. This test measures four critical thinking skills: Induction, Deduction, Credibility, and Identification of Assumptions. It has been discovered that grade 12 students enrolled in different school curricula score widely different scores on the Connell Critical Thinking Test. That there are a number of differences in critical thinking skills between those students who are enrolled on different school curricula that is sourced from the USA, the UK and on the International Baccalaureate Curricula. And that a number of observational relationships could be evidenced between students’ GPA and scores in the Connell Critical Thinking Test when compared to a number of variable factors that included retuned SAT scores. However, the main difference is where a number of demographic variables were present that provided evidence that impacted considerably affecting students’ critical thinking skills. The study also found out that skills such as assessing the credibility of observational reports and identifying assumptions were not well developed among grade 12 students. The findings from the study suggest that school curricula may have an effect on students' critical thinking skills. However, this research did not look at instructions within the curriculum; thus, the reported differences cannot be exclusively attributed to the school curriculum.
school curriculum, critical thinking skills