REVIEW OF THE RELATED LITERATURE
This chapter presents the various literature and related studies critically reviewed by the researchers in the course of conducting this study following this sequence.
The complex process of thinking is divided into higher order thinking and lower order thinking. Higher order thinking is used when someone relates stored and new information to solve extraordinary and difficult problems, or to obtain new ideas. Higher order thinking skills include contextualization, metacognition, creativity, insight, intelligence, problem solving and critical thinking. While the Lower order thinking is used to develop daily routines and mechanical processes. Critical thinking means to have criteria, analyze, infer, explain arguments, and develop them (King, Goodson and Rohani, 2009; Pearson, 2011).
Many authors talk about Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). King and others (2009) traced their historical development and mentioned several key movers in this regard: Dewey explained how thinking is evoked by problems, and Bruner argued that inquiry is necessary in the learning process. Piaget clarified that these skills are needed in the last developmental stages of thinking; on the other hand, Bloom explained how HOTS require previous levels of knowledge. Gagne put HOTS in the top of his taxonomy, and Marzano situated these skills as a dimension of learning. Glaser declared HOTS are the type of thinking for problem solving, and Vygotsky affirmed that HOTS are necessary to move into the zone of proximal development. Furthermore, Haladyna sustained that HOTS are a level of mental processes, and Gardner declared HOTS are developed by our multiple intelligences (as cited in King et al., 2009). Definitely, each theory posits a different way of understanding thinking and how to develop HOTS. There are also theories about the different skills themselves. However, one of the most important skills is critical thinking, divided also into other skills such as analyzing and solving problems, as well as creating new arguments (Beyer, 1990; Pearson, 2011).
In fact, critical thinking has been studied by different sciences. Philosophers like Bailin, Ennis, Lipman, McPaul and Peck focused on what people are capable of doing under the best circumstances to get to the truth. Psychologists such as Halpern, Sternberg, and Willingham focused on how people actually think. Finally, educators like Bloom and Marzano explained critical thinking based on research about their own experience in the classroom and observation of student learning (King et al., 2009; Lewis and Smith, 1993; Pearson, 2011).
Critical thinking skills and education have been researched in different fields since the age of Socrates (Fahim, 2012). However, in the last fifteen years, majority of studies added pedagogical elements to improve these skills. Other research studies tried to identify if critical thinking is related with demographic information, cognitive aptitudes or environment. Finally, a few studies described how to demonstrate and assess critical thinking in the classroom.
Critical thinking is an important and necessary skill because it is required in the workplace; it can help people to deal with mental and spiritual questions, and it can be used to evaluate people, policies, and institutions, thereby avoiding social problems (Hatcher and Spencer, 2005). Critical thinking is considered important in the academic fields because it enables one to analyze, evaluate, explain, and restructure their thinking, thereby decreasing the risk adopting, acting on, or thinking with, a false belief. However, even with knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, mistakes can happen due to thinker’s inability to apply the methods or because of character traits such as egocentrism. Critical thinking also gives students the ability to not only understand what they have read or been shown but also to build upon that knowledge without incremental guidance. It further teaches students that knowledge is fluid and builds upon itself. It is not simply rote memorization or the ability to absorb lessons unquestioningly.
According to a review of critical thinking studies conducted by Pascarella and Terenzini (1991), attending college has a positive influence on the development of students’ critical thinking. It is important to develop students’ graduate attributes across the curriculum and across the three years of a degree. Hughes and Barry (2010) suggest that assessing these attributes is critical in ensuring that students understand their importance. Students need to grasp that it is essential for them to develop a critical approach in order to be skilled employees who are able to adapt to new situations in the workplace (Forrester, 2008). It is especially important that students develop their meta-cognitive skills in their application of critical thinking in order to be successful at university (Jones and Ratcliff, 1993; Johnson, Archibald, and Tenenbaum, 2010).
Critical thinking is a necessary skill all students need to develop in order to fully understand information presented in lessons (Lambert and Cuper, 2008). Students that fail to develop their critical thinking skills accordingly typically suffer with lower academic grades (Quitadamo, Faiola, Johnson, and Kurtz, 2008). Understanding the disconnection between the information presented and the students’ ability to deduce the information is a vital component to change teaching methods and approaches in the classroom (Dewey and Bento, 2009; Lucariello, 2012).
Duran and Sendang (2012) define that the critical thinking is based on relating and drawing conclusions on notions and events. Furthermore, these authors say it involves different cognitive processes such as implicating problem solving, reflecting and criticizing. All these are skills `necessary to live in today’s world. These authors say that thinking begins with a physical or psychological inconvenience stemming from lacking the solution for a problem whose solution becomes the objective for an individual. Higher order thinking skills, like critical thinking and problem solving are considered necessary skills for 21st century individuals. All education institutions should be using these skills. Learners need higher order thinking skills if education is to make any sense. Shannon and Bennett (2012) cite a number of authors who observed that critical thinking evolves with the following stages: (1) the application level is categorized into two sub-levels namely; giving an example and applying concepts; (2) the analysis level has six (6) sub-levels namely; interpreting data, classifying, interpreting diagrams, making comparisons, drawing conclusions and making inferences; (3) the synthesis level has five (5) sub-levels developing hypothesis, designing experiments, developing models, making predictions and using the writing process; and (4) the evaluation level is categorized into two (2) evaluating and making judgments.
Educators have long been aware of the importance of critical thinking skills as an outcome of student learning. More recently, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has identified critical thinking as one of several learning and innovation skills necessary to prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce.
Lewis and Smith (1993) both are wondering if there is a difference between lower-order and higher-order thinking skills. In fact, the term “higher order” thinking skills seems a misnomer in that it implies that there is another set of “lower order” skills that need to come first. Newman (1990), in order to differentiate between the two categories of skills, concludes that the lower skills require simple applications and routine steps. In contrast and according to Newman (1993) higher order thinking skills “challenge students to interpret, analyze, or manipulate information”. However, Newman argues that the terms higher and lower skills is relative, a specific subject might demand higher skills for a particular student, whereas, another one requires lower skills. Splitting thinking skills into two categories will help educators in developing activities that can be done by slow learners before they can move to skills that are more sophisticated. As well as to develop activities that can be performed by fast learners and place them in their appropriate level. Furthermore, this splitting helps educators in constructing remediation programs for slow learners consisting of drill and practice. By a process of remediation through repetition, students are expected to master the lower order level thinking skills, which will help them in further stages to master the higher order skills.
Moreover, by breaking down skills into simple skills and higher level skill will help curricula developer to design the subject’s contents according to this splitting by focusing on basic skills in lower grades and in later grades, they can build the students’ competences and higher-order thinking skills. Educators consider higher-order thinking skills as high order thinking that occurs when the student obtains new knowledge and stores it in his memory, then this knowledge is correlates, organized, or evaluated to achieve a specific purpose. These skills have to include sub-skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation, which are the highest levels in Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy.
In spite of efforts to better define the purposes and role of laboratory work in science education, research has shown that teachers see laboratory activities as contrived (Tan, 2008; Tobin, 1986). In general, teachers cannot see laboratory activities as conceptually integrated with theoretical science lessons. In addition, teachers fail to understand that laboratory activities may provide opportunities for students to produce new knowledge through scientific investigations. According to a research conducted by Kang and Wallace (2005), teachers perceive laboratory work solely as an activity for the purpose of verification. Researchers have also uncovered that teachers do not think of the laboratory as an environment where scientific knowledge claims are discussed.
Different reasons have been shown for the problems relating to laboratory work (Tan, 2008). According to Bencze and Hodson (1999), problems in laboratory work arise when students blindly follow the instructions of the teachers. Some researchers, on the other hand, claim that the laboratory, instead of being a place for science and experiments, has become a place where tasks set by the teacher are carried out. No attention is given to the methods or purposes during laboratory work, only the set tasks are carried out (Hart et al., 2000; Jimenez-Aleixandre et al., 2000). Wilkinson and Ward (1997a; b) have connected the problems with laboratory work to a poor evaluation of the purposes of the tasks undertaken in the laboratory.
Tobin (1990) suggested that meaningful learning is possible in the laboratory if the students are given opportunities to manipulate equipment and materials in an environment suitable for them to construct their knowledge of phenomena and related scientific concepts. This allows the students to explore the concept of science and understand it better compare to a plain discussion in the classroom. Four years later, Roth (1994) suggested that although laboratories have long been recognized for their potential to facilitate the learning of science concepts and skills, this potential has yet to be realized. Tobin (1990) wrote that “Laboratory activities appeal as a way of allowing students to learn with understanding and, at the same time, engage in a process of constructing knowledge by doing science”.
“Learning by Doing” is about the history of experimentation in science education. The teaching of science through experiments and observation is essential to the natural sciences and its pedagogy. These have been conducted as both demonstration or as student exercises. The experimental method is seen as giving the student vital competence, skills and experiences, both at the school and at the university level (Heering and Wittje. 2010).
Active learning can make the course more enjoyable for both teachers and students, and, most importantly, it can cause students to think critically. For this to happen, educators must give up the belief that students cannot learn the subject at hand unless the teacher covers it. While it is useful for students to gain some exposure to the material through pre-class readings and overview lectures, students really do not understand it until they actively do something with it and reflect on the meaning of what they are doing (Duron, et al, 2006).
Proponents and Views of Higher Thinking Skills
Jean Piaget’s View
According to Piaget, the developmental stages are the key to cognitive development. School-age and adolescent children develop operational thinking and the logical and systematic manipulation of symbols. As adolescents move into adulthood, they develop skills such as logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts, scientific reasoning, and hypothesis testing. These skills are the foundation for problem solving, self-reflection, and critical reasoning (Crowl et al., 1997; Miles, 1992). Recent research shows that children perform certain tasks earlier than Piaget claimed, vary in how rapidly they develop cognitively, and seem to be in transition longer than in the cognitive development stages (Crowl et al., 1997). However, research also shows that biological development, together with instructional techniques, affects the rate of movement from one stage of learning to the next.
Jerome Bruner’s View
According to Bruner, learning processes involve active inquiry and discovery, inductive reasoning, and intrinsic motivation. Stages of cognitive development are not linear; they may occur simultaneously. Bruner introduced the “spiral curriculum” in which learners return to previously covered topics within the context of new information learned. Both Piaget and Bruner focus on active learning, active inquiry and discovery, inductive reasoning, intrinsic motivation, and linkage of previously learned concepts and information to new learning. Stages include enactive (hands-on participation), iconic (visual representations), and symbolic (symbols, including math and science symbols) (Crowl et al., 1997).
Benjamin Bloom’s View
In each of Bloom’s three taxonomies (cognitive, affective, and psychomotor), lower levels provide a base for higher levels of learning (Bloom, 1956; Kauchak and Eggen, 1998). Comprehension and application form linkages to higher order skills; here, the learner uses meaningful information such as abstractions, formulas, equations, or algorithms in new applications in new situations. Higher order skills include analysis, synthesis, and evaluation and require mastery of previous levels, such as applying routine rules to familiar or novel problems (McDavitt, 1993). Higher order thinking involves breaking down complex material into parts, detecting relationships, combining new and familiar information creatively within limits set by the context, and combining and using all previous levels in evaluating or making judgments. There also appears to be some interaction across taxonomies. For example, the highest level of the psychomotor taxonomy involves the use of our body’s psychomotor, affective, and cognitive skills to express feelings or ideas as in the planning and execution of a dance performance or song designed to convey a particular message.
Robert Gagné’s View
According to Gagné, intellectual skills begin with establishing a hierarchy according to skill complexity. Within this structure, discriminations are prerequisites for concrete and defined concepts, simple rules, complex higher order rules, and then problem solving. Cognitive strategies may be simple or complex (Gagné, 1985; Briggs and Wager, 1981; Gagné, Briggs, and Wager, 1988). Attitudes and motor skills, related varieties of learning, may involve lower as well as higher order thinking – spanning from a simple application of a tool to a complex systems analysis and evaluation. Bloom (1956) and Gagné and Briggs (1974) allow for greater possibilities of teaching complex skills to younger learners and the possibility that learners can be “young” at any age, starting at lower levels and connecting to higher levels of thinking. This variation for learning capabilities does not fit as well in Piaget’s and Bruner’s frameworks.
Robert Marzano’s View
To Marzano, the dimensions of thinking feed into dimensions of learning, both of which build upon contributions from other scholars and researchers (Marzano et al., 1988). For example, Gagné refers to the generalizations that describe relationships between or among concepts as “rules” (Gagné, 1974; Gagné, Briggs, and Wager, 1988), while Marzano calls them “principles” (Marzano et al., 1988, p. 37). The book Dimensions of Thinking has been designed as a practical handbook with definitions, examples, and classroom applications.
Lev Vygotsky’s View
Vygotsky (cited in Crowl et al., 1997) seems to have consolidated major concepts of cognitive development. Cognitive development progresses as children learn; biological maturity accounts for “elementary processes” such as reflexive responses. When learning a specific skill, students also perceive the underlying principles. Social interaction and social culture play major roles in learning and cognitive development; children internalize knowledge most efficiently when others, such as teachers, parents, or peers, guide and assist them; significant people in an individual’s life contribute to the development of “higher mental functions”; people’s cognitive processes function differently when working on their own versus working in groups. Everyone has a “zone of proximal development,” and asking certain questions or giving suggestions will move the individual toward potentially higher levels; such support helps students in solving problems until they can solve them independently and may include hints, questions, behavior modeling, rewards, feedback, information giving, self-talk, or peer tutoring (pp. 69–71).
Thomas Haladyna’s View
Haladyna (1997) expressed the complexity of thinking and learning dimensions by classifying four levels of mental processes (understanding, problem solving, critical thinking, and creativity) that can be applied to four types of content (facts, concepts, principles, and procedures). Applying a set of skills across dimensions of content fits well with the actual complex, recursive, and systemic processes of higher order thinking.
Howard Gardner ‘s View
According to Gardner (1983), multiple intelligences form a major part of an individual’s dispositions and abilities. These intelligences are independent of each other and account for the spectrum of abilities used in different fields of work, such as teaching, surgery, athletics, dancing, art, or psychotherapy. Gardner’s theory, which regards intelligence as having seven dimensions, has been receiving recent attention related to teaching (Kauchak and Eggen, 1998). Schools are shifting curricula and teaching methods to accommodate the diverse abilities and talents of students (Crowl et al., 1997). Teachers may have a greater impact by creating lessons that “use the various types of intelligence in classroom activities” (p. 187).
Although Gardner is commonly credited with theories related to multiple intelligences, others also have developed models of thinking that reflect the multifaceted nature of intelligence.
Certain components of models or theories of intelligence are similar to factors identified in models and theories of learning. For example, Guilford’s products (cited in Crowl et al., 1997, p. 184) resemble the learning outcomes described by Gagné, Briggs, and Wager (1988). “Units” are like the lower levels of discriminations and verbal information, “classes” are like the classification of concepts, “relations” are like the rules formed by relating one concept to another, and “systems” are like the systems of rules integrated into problem-solving strategies.
Similarly, Guilford’s “content areas” are ways of receiving and perceiving information and instruction, and Guilford’s “operations” parallel the mental processes that teaching strategies attempt to influence. There also are parallels with the notion of learning capabilities, in that Gagné and Briggs refer to stating, classifying, demonstrating, generating, and originating as the functions associated with different learning outcomes (i.e., stating verbal information, classifying concepts, demonstrating rules, generating problem solving, and originating cognitive strategies). These functional terms guide instructional designers in their specification of learning strategies and test items and have meanings that are similar to Guilford’s terms of cognition, memory retention, memory recording, and divergent and convergent production.
Atmospheric Pressure as Demonstrated in Atmospheric Pressure Apparatus
Atmospheric pressure is defined as the force per unit area exerted against a surface by the weight of the air above that surface. Atmospheric pressure in high altitude area is lesser than the atmospheric pressure at sea level. Atmospheric pressure is measured quantitatively with an instrument called “barometer”, which is why atmospheric pressure is also referred to as barometric pressure (Jarantilla, 2008).
Electrolytes and Non-Electrolytes as Demonstrated in the Electric Conductivity Apparatus
Electrolyte and Non-electrolyte solutes that exist as dissociated ions in aqueous solutions are called electrolytes. Solutes that are present as neutral molecules and not as ions in solutions are called nonelectrolytes. Electrolytes conduct electrolytes electricity and non-electrolytes do not conduct electricity. The solid state of ions will not be able to conduct electricity because it locked in to position in their crystal structure and is not able to move (Jarantilla, 2008).
Radiant Energy Absorption by Soil/Sand and Water as Demonstrated in Differential Thermoscope
Heat Capacity of Soil and Water all bodies are continually radiating energy and are also continually absorbing radiant energy. If a body is radiating more energy than it is absorbing, its temperature does decrease; but if a body is absorbing more energy than it is emitting its temperature increase. A body that is warmer than its surroundings emits more energy than it receives and therefore cools; a body colder than its surroundings is a net gainer of energy and its temperature therefore increases. A receives none, it will radiate away all of its available energy, and its temperature will approach absolute zero. The rate at which the body radiates or absorbs radiant energy depends on the nature of the body and the difference between its temperature and the surrounding temperature. Emission and absorption take place at the surface of a body. A rough surface is therefore a better absorber and emitter since microscopically it has more surface area. If the surface area is hotter than the surrounding air, it becomes a net radiator and cools (Hewitt, 1977).
Tyndall Effect as Demonstrated by the Tyndall Effect Apparatus
Tyndall Effect unlike solutions, colloidal suspension exhibits light scattering. A beam of light or laser, invisible in a clear air or pure water will trace the visible path through a genuine colloidal suspension, e.g. a headlight on a car shining through fog. This is known as Tyndall Effect (after its discoverer, the 19th century British physicists John Tyndall), and is a special instance of diffraction. This effect is often used as a measure of existence of a colloid. It is visible in colloids as will 0.1 ppm (parts per million). However, there are exceptions. For example, the effect cannot be seen with milk, which is a colloid.
Tyndall scattering occurs when the dimensions of the particles that caused the scattering are larger than the wavelength of the radiation that is scattered. It is caused by reflection by the incident radiation from the surfaces of the particles, reflection from the interior walls of the particles, and refraction and diffraction as it passes through the particles (Jarantilla, 2008).
Thermal Expansion of Liquids as Demonstrated in Water and Alcohol Thermoscope
Water and Alcohol Thermoscope when the temperature of the substance is increase, its molecules is made to jiggle faster. The more energetic the collision between molecules the more force to move them further apart, resulting in an expansion of the substance. All forms of matter- solids, liquids, gas and plasma generally expand when heated an contract when they are called (Hewitt, 1997). The most famous exception is water, which contracts as it is warmed from 0 ?C to 4 ?C. This is actually a good thing, because as freezing weather sets in, the coldest water, which is about to freeze, is less dense than slightly warmer water (Fowler, 2006).
Vast related studies show that student teachers are not aware of the benefits of laboratory work on the students facing their own misconceptions. These results support the results of Ottander and Grelsson (2006). The scientific discussions held during the laboratory work help to define the misconceptions entertained by the students. Furthermore, laboratory work provides concrete experiences and opportunities for students to face their own misconceptions (Lazarowitz and Tamir, 1994). As a matter of fact, it has been shown that students positive attitude towards science increases with laboratory work (Freedman, 1997). According to Kang and Wallace (2005), it is likely that teachers with naive epistemological beliefs will prefer the delivery of information as the prime teaching goal.
Hofstein and Naaman (2007) reviewed and reported several studies conducted in various countries about laboratory applications. In their evaluation, they stated that laboratory applications aimed to enhance students’ science process and problem-solving skills and their interest in and attitudes toward scientific approaches in accordance with the objectives of basic science education. Garnett and Hackling (1995) argued that laboratories will contribute to improving students’ conceptual understanding, application skills and techniques, and ability to analyze inter-variable relationships and chemical analyses-syntheses. The study aimed to demonstrate the importance of laboratory work in chemistry education for chemistry instructors. The authors highlighted the need to use student-active laboratory approaches so as to enhance students’ research skills including problem analysis, research plans, research management, data recording, and interpretation of the findings.
A careful study reported by Reif and St. John (1979) showed that students in a college-level physics laboratory course based on inquiry training developed high level skills more successfully than did students in a conventional physics laboratory course. The students in this laboratory course used instructional materials that presented information in a carefully organized way and incorporated specific features stimulating students to think independently.
Another research tendency is to understand which demographic factors are related with critical thinking skill. In these kinds of studies, researchers analyze significant numbers of participants from different schools that are chosen following specific characteristics. Edman, Robey, and Bart (2002) selected a sample of 232 Colleges and University students, Mahiroglu (2007) studied a sample of 134 schools from Turkish provinces, and Yang and Lin (2004) selected 1119 male senior high school students from military schools. The study sought to determine if these demographic elements isolated from others generate a disposition for critical thinking skill by tests specially designed to identify disposition of critical reasoning, such as the Minnesota Test of Critical Thinking II, a demographic information sheet, or a general survey mode. Demographic studies have been carried out in the United States (Edman, Robey, and Bart, 2002), Taiwan (Yang and Lin, 2004), and Turkey (Mahiroglu, 2007). They found that demographic differences as gender, age, region, school, class, grades or parent’s education level are related significantly with critical thinking disposition.
Ramasamy (2011), on the other hand, considered the age, discipline, program, grade point average, and number of reading hours of the participants. LaPoint-O’Brien (2013) analyzed understanding and reasoning. Findings of these studies sustain only that disciplines, programs and age directly influence results of Critical Thinking Skill Tests positively. In fact, Ramasamy (2011) concludes that age is an essential part of developing critical thinking. According to her, this is because age is related with maturity and only maturity helps making critical and complex judgments.
A study by the University of Arkansas also discovered that field trips contribute to the development of student’s critical thinking skills and increase their knowledge of Art and culture. According to Greene and others (2013), it says that enriching field trips contribute to the development of students into civilized young men and women who possess more knowledge about art, have stronger critical-thinking skills, exhibit increased historical empathy, display higher levels of tolerance, and have a greater taste for consuming art and culture.
Patrick (2010), proposed that field trips should be weaved into the teaching schedule as this will provide an opportunity for students to view information for themselves and use their own senses to touch, or feel materials that they had previously only heard about. Patrick’s study considered the effects of field experiences on students’ knowledge in relation to their science achievement, in particular biology. Patrick found that there was a significant difference in test scores between the students that had participated in field trip experiences and those who were not included on field trips. Patrick concluded that these field trip experiences significantly improved the students’ understanding of science and also improved their motivation/attitude towards the subject. This subsequently influenced and increased their overall achievement in biology (Patrick, 2010).
The environment also provides a valuable asset to be considered when teaching critical thinking. A study conducted by Nelson Laird (2005) identified that students exposed to diversity and other various interactions demonstrate greater propensity toward critical thinking. Those students typically are found to be more open-minded, and therefore willing to exhibit greater flexibility when solving problems or understanding larger aspects of complex skills. Ernst and Monroe (2006) conducted a similar study on how the environment affects critical thinking skills and dispositions, and they arrived at a similar conclusion.
Critical Thinking is a process in which it helps us to conceptualize, apply, analyze, and synthesize. And also evaluate information gathered from or generated by observation, experiences, reflection, reasoning, or communication as a guide belief and action. Laboratory activities play a vital role in improving the critical thinking skills. It aimed to enhance students’ process and understanding towards science education. Also, it improves students’ conceptual understanding and cognitive skills. Students have different level of critical thinking skills as they go along the process of learning in the school environment. Field trips also contribute to developed students’ critical thinking skills. And also improved their motivation/attitude towards the subject and influenced and increase their overall achievement especially in biology.
Science instruments are instrument used for scientific purposes. Instruments were used for better understanding of the students in terms of the science concepts. Science DIY Instruments are homemade materials used to replace the apparatus which are not available in the science laboratory for science activities or experiments. These devices are less costly but they exactly work the same as the laboratory apparatuses. Evaluating the critical thinking of the respondents in utilizing Do-It-Yourself equipment and laboratory activities was essential in order to determine if the DIY apparatuses can really help the respondents in developing their critical thinking skills to be able to know what to improve about the apparatuses and if it is effective to use inside the classroom.