A comparison of critical thinking in an interactive television social work course
Marie Thielke Huff, University of South Carolina, United States
University of South Carolina . Awarded
Distance education is a an instructional method that is being utilized on an increasing basis in social work education (Siegel, Jennings, Conklin, & Flynn, 1998). While a search of the literature revealed numerous studies comparing distant students to campus students related to acquisition of course content, no studies were found that looked specifically at students' critical thinking skills. This study evaluates the critical thinking skills acquired by students while enrolled in a graduate social work policy course taught through interactive television. A comparison is made between students who attended the class on campus and students who attended the class at distant sites.
A total of 62 graduate social work students participated in this quasi-experimental study in the fall of 1997. There was a total of 53 women and nine men, ranging in age from 22 to 58. Twenty of the students identified themselves as being African American, 38 as White, and two as Asian.
All of the participants took the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) at the beginning and end of the fall semester. Twenty-four students from the campus site and 38 students from distant sites participated in the study. The class was taught via two-way audio and one-way video instruction. The students on campus were in the same geographical location as the instructor, while distant students participated from various sites throughout the state. The distant students could see and hear the instructor, but would have to contact the studio by telephone to participate in the class discussions or ask questions.
The researcher was interested in finding out if distant students' acquisition of critical thinking skills was comparable to students on-site. Specific teaching techniques were used that are presumed to enhanced critical thinking skills among students. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to analyze the difference in scores between the pre- and posttests. The entire group, as well as both groups individually, showed statistically significant improvement in their critical thinking skills over the course of the semester No statistically significant differences were found between the two groups regarding their acquisition of critical thinking skills.
The participants also rated the teacher using a teaching evaluation form developed by Gibbs and Gambrill (1996). The evaluation was specifically designed to measure teacher behaviors and techniques that are theorized to encourage critical thinking in students. The results indicate that students believed that the instructor encouraged critical thinking in the classroom through her teaching techniques and class assignments. This paper includes feedback from student evaluations, and comments shared with the instructor over the course of the semester. Recommendations are provided, and educators are encouraged to continue studying how to effectively teach students using this mode of instruction.
Huff, M.T. A comparison of critical thinking in an interactive television social work course. Ph.D. thesis, University of South Carolina.
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