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Critical thinking wheel

In the 1960s Critical thinking wheel Schwab called for inquiry to be divided into three distinct levels.

This was later formalized by Marshall Herron in 1971, who developed the Herron Scale to evaluate the amount of inquiry within a particular lab exercise. Since then, there have been a number of revisions proposed and inquiry can take various forms. Inquiry learning involves developing questions, making observations, doing research to find out what information is already recorded, developing methods for experiments, developing instruments for data collection, collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data, outlining possible explanations and creating predictions for future study. There are many different explanations for inquiry teaching and learning and the various levels of inquiry that can exist within those contexts.

The teacher has taught a particular science theme or topic. The teacher then develops questions and a procedure that guides students through an activity where the results are already known. This method is great to reinforce concepts taught and to introduce students into learning to follow procedures, collect and record data correctly and to confirm and deepen understandings. The teacher provides the initial question and an outline of the procedure. Students are to formulate explanations of their findings through evaluating and analyzing the data that they collect. The teacher provides only the research question for the students.

The students are responsible for designing and following their own procedures to test that question and then communicate their results and findings. This type of inquiry is often seen in science fair contexts where students drive their own investigative questions. Open inquiry activities are only successful if students are motivated by intrinsic interests and if they are equipped with the skills to conduct their own research study. It means students do not simply perform experiments in a routine like fashion, but actually think about the results they collect and what they mean.

With traditional non-open lessons there is a tendency for students to say that the experiment ‘went wrong’ when they collect results contrary to what they are told to expect. Open learning has been developed by a number of science educators including the American John Dewey and the German Martin Wagenschein. Wagenschein’s ideas particularly complement both open learning and inquiry-based learning in teaching work. Inquiry learning has been used as a teaching and learning tool for thousands of years, however, the use of inquiry within public education has a much briefer history. John Dewey, a well-known philosopher of education at the beginning of the 20th century, was the first to criticize the fact that science education was not taught in a way to develop young scientific thinkers. Today, we know that students at all levels of education can successfully experience and develop deeper level thinking skills through scientific inquiry. Students should be able to recognize that science is more than memorizing and knowing facts.

Students should have the opportunity to develop new knowledge that builds on their prior knowledge and scientific ideas. Students will develop new knowledge by restructuring their previous understandings of scientific concepts and adding new information learned. Learning is influenced by students’ social environment whereby they have an opportunity to learn from each other. Students will take control of their learning. Critical thinking wheel extent to which students are able to learn with deep understanding will influence how transferable their new knowledge is to real life contexts. Robert Bain in How Students Learn described a similar approach called «problematizing history».

What is the purpose of critical thinking

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First a learning curriculum is organized around central concepts. Next, a question and primary sources are provided, such as eye witness historical accounts. After Charles Pascal’s report in 2009, the Canadian province of Ontario’s Ministry of Education decided to implement a full day kindergarten program that focuses on inquiry and play-based learning, called The Early Learning Kindergarten Program. As of September 2014, all primary schools in Ontario started the program.

Since the program is extremely new, there is limited research on its success and areas of improvement. One government research report was released with the initial groups of children in the new kindergarten program. There are several common misconceptions regarding inquiry-based science, the first being that inquiry science is simply instruction that teaches students to follow the scientific method. Many teachers had the opportunity to work within the constraints of the scientific method as students themselves and figure inquiry learning must be the same. Some educators believe that there is only one true method of inquiry, which would be described as the level four: Open Inquiry.

In addition, the newness of this phenomenon demands lots of curiosities and researches.
A camp counselor I met two years ago is still inspiring to me today.

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