The extent to which teachers create classroom climates that nurture the development of critical thinking abilities
The nurturing of critical thinking skills is one of the cornerstones of Outcomes Based Education (OBE). This study investigated to what extent teachers create classroom climates that nurture the development of critical thinking abilities. A literature study was undertaken to highlight the importance and nature of the development of critical thinking skills, and to establish the relationship between classroom climate and the development of critical thinking abilities. The use of teaching methods and strategies, learning activities, questioning techniques, the role of the teacher and the role of the learner during teaching and learning in the classroom were explored. The literature review provided the conceptual framework for the study, as well as the framework for designing a questionnaire that was utilized to obtain the perceptions of teachers and learners regarding the opportunities provided by teachers for the development of critical thinking abilities in the classroom. By means of quantitative, non-experimental descriptive survey research, a self-constructed questionnaire was administrated to a convenient sample of a purposively selected group of Grade 9 and Grade 11 teachers (n=241) and learners (n=403) in the Sedibeng West District of the Gauteng Department of Education. The triangulation of learner and teacher data revealed differences and similarities in opinion related to the classroom climates that teachers create for nurturing critical thinking. In essence, the data revealed that teachers are, to some extent, creating classroom climates that nurture critical thinking through their choice of teaching methods and strategies, questioning techniques and the learning activities that they choose. However, the responses did not convincingly indicate to the researcher that the nurturing of critical thinking skills takes place on a regular and frequent basis. According to the learner responses, it appeared that teaching and learning methods and strategies that promote interactive learning, are underutilized by the teachers. This study is concluded with recommendations to teachers on how to create classroom climates that promote the development of critical thinking skills. Key words: cognition, cognitive development, critical thinking, classroom climate, teaching methods and strategies, learning activities, questioning techniques.
- Education