Determining and exploring teachers' perceptions on the barriers to teaching critical thinking in the classroom: A survey study
Reynolds, Stephen Wray
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Although there is substantial evidence showing the benefits of critical-thinking as well as recommendations for the implementation of critical-thinking in education, researchers are still searching for evidence that critical-thinking is being used in the classrooms. Proposed over 2,500 years ago by Socrates, critical-thinking was viewed as a way to emphasized clarity of thought, intellectual veracity, and living a scrutinized life. The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ perceptions of critical thinking and any barriers they perceive to teaching critical thinking within the classroom. This study looked at a) differences of perceptions of teachers between subject areas; b) educational backgrounds of the teachers; c) gender; d) differences between high school and middle school teachers; e) teachers’ perceptions on critical thinking; and f) insight on perceived barriers to teaching critical thinking. There were fifty-four participants who responded to the survey, working in eight school districts across two states, resulting in a 17% participation rate, which allows us to extrapolate the data. The focus question of this study explore the opinions of teachers on perceived barriers to the teaching of critical thinking skills in the classroom. To answer these questions, the researcher utilized a forty-nine-question survey, that was emailed and completed on a voluntary basis to teachers from the school districts. A prevalent theme that did arise was the feeling that time was a major factor in all areas, that of external, teacher, student, and curriculum barriers. Further, participants perceived the necessity to teach content over teaching critical thinking, even though they were aware of the importance of teaching critical thinking in the classroom. Future studies with more participants may be useful in revealing other conclusions.