The Impact of Faculty Teaching Practices on the Development of Students' Critical Thinking Skills

Woo-jeong Shim
University of Michigan

Kelley Walczak
University of Wisconsin - Parkside

Colleges and universities recognize that one of the primary goals of higher education is to promote students’ ability to think critically. Using data from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (WNS), this study examined the relationship between faculty teaching practices and the development of students’ critical thinking skills, specifically the differences between students’ self- report and the direct assessment (i.e., CAAP) of critical thinking. The results from multinomial logistic regression and OLS regression analyses showed that asking challenging questions increased both students’ self-reported and the directly measured critical thinking abilities. Interpreting abstract concepts as well as giving well-organized presentation increased students’ self-reported gains in critical thinking; however, these same practices did not significantly impact their CAAP scores. Inconsistent with previous literature, class presentations as well as group discussions decreased either students’ self-reported or directly assessed critical thinking abilities. These findings can guide faculty teaching practices to foster critical thinking for first-year college students.

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