Cultivating Critical Thinkers: Exploring Transfer of Learning from Pre-service Teacher Training to Classroom Practice

Nov. 01, 2012

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 28, Issue 8, November 2012, p. 1116-1130.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to explore the transfer of learning from teacher training to classroom practice by examining the effectiveness of CT-integrated instruction on junior high school students’ critical thinking skills (CTS) and critical thinking dispositions (CTD).

The participants were two pre-service teachers and 108 junior high school students in a large city in Taiwan.
The pre-service teachers were graduates from a course on critical thinking-integrated instruction. The experiment included four classes: two 7th and two 8th grade classes were randomly assigned as experimental (CT-integrated instruction), or comparison (traditional instruction) groups.


The findings suggest that critical thinking skills and dispositions were successfully transferred to learners.
It was found that the CTT-I scores for the experimental group were statistically higher than the scores of the comparison group.
Furthermore, post-test CTD total scores for the experimental group were higher than those of the comparison group for both 7th and 8th grade participants.
Hence, the significant improvement by the experimental groups (CTI( relative to the comparison groups (traditional instruction), can be explained by the instructional design implemented by the two teachers.

The influence on teacher beliefs which resulted from CT teacher training was reflected in the positive results for the experimental group, since instructors were better able to provide an environment conducive to reflective thinking and design, implementation, and assessment of CT activities which motivated learners to adopt a critical attitude toward learning
From a transfer of learning approach to a transformative learning perspective, it appears that there was an effective influence of the teachers’ own experience and engagement in developing CTS and CTD on their ability to foster cognitive, affective, and behavioral change in the classroom.

Finally, the results indicate that the CT-integrated English instruction had a positive impact on participants’ academic performance, as measured by the English final exam.
That is, learners in the CT-integrated instruction classes for both 7th grade and 8th grade outperformed learners who studied under regular instructional conditions.
Thus, improved CT allowed participants in the experimental groups both a linguistic advantage and the skills necessary to perform more effectively on tests.


This instructional model for critical thinking teacher training offers a framework for equipping individuals with strategies and experiences for personal and professional development as a critical thinker and teacher.
During the CT-training employed in this study, pre-service teachers demonstrated significant improvements demonstrated in terms of their personal critical thinking skills and dispositions. Empirical results from two graduates of this CT-training course demonstrate that these CT skills and dispositions can be successfully transferred to learners in the context of CT-enhanced English classes.
The two graduates of teacher training in critical thinking evaluated in this study were effective in independently developing instructional strategies, designing learning activities, and leading class discussions that resulted in statistically significant improvements in CTS, CTD, and academic achievement as compared to students learning with traditional instruction.

The additional finding of significant improvement in academic achievement is evidence of the link between critical thinking and academic performance in other areas, as well as the close relationship thinking and language.
Given an increasing emphasis on academic achievement scores and the use of testing for evaluating school performance and allocating scare resources, the effectiveness of CT-integrated teacher education and classroom instruction in enhancing academic performance suggests that an emphasis on fostering critical thinking is a sound investment.

Updated: Sep. 21, 2015