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Using Discussions to Promote Critical Thinking in an Online Environment

By Nega Debela and Berlin Fang

Abstract

This paper examines how the discussion tool is used to promote critical thinking in an online environment at Marshall University. The significance of critical thinking in higher education has been brought to attention at both national and local levels. The paper studies the use of discussions as an approach to promote critical thinking in a number of English as a Second Language (ESL) courses offered by Marshall University's Graduate School of Education and Professional Development (GSEPD) program. At the end of the semester, a qualitative survey was developed to identify the effectiveness of such discussions, and the opportunities for improvement. The survey was sent to all students in these three classes. These students were all full time teachers in Elementary and Secondary schools in West Virginia. Out of 21 students, 15 of them have responded to the three questions asked in the survey. Almost all the respondents have found discussion helpful in enhancing learning and critical thinking. Most students support the involvement of an online instructor in the online discussion, and faculty members involved in these discussions function as helpers in the development of critical thinking skills

Topics: Electronic computers. Computer science, QA75.5-76.95, Instruments and machines, QA71-90, Mathematics, QA1-939, Science, Q, DOAJ:Computer Science, DOAJ:Technology and Engineering, Information technology, T58.5-58.64, Communication. Mass media, P87-96
Publisher: International Institute of Informatics and Cybernetics
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:doaj.org/article:098f62592601494ebb5db85cda7b5ca1
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