Effects of Teaching Actions on Students' Use of Critical Thinking Skills

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This study aimed at investigating how the structure of tasks and instructional actions impact on students' use of critical thinking skills while learning creative dance. The participants in this study were an expert elementary physical education teacher and 162 students. 16 videotaped creative dance lessons taught by the expert teacher were evaluated using the Teaching to Promoting Critical Thinking Instruction (TPGTI) designed to assess students' demonstration of critical thinking in relation to a teacher's instructional actions. The TPGTI was developed through a review of literature, analysis of the written anecdotal descriptions of the teacher's teaching and the students' movement responses in the 16 taped lessons, and two field test in which the 16 taped lessons were assessed using the instrument to determine its content validity. The TPGTI consists of three major constructs of teaching actions (structure of task, task presentation, and feedback) and four major constructs of critical thinking (divergent/original movement responses, movement elaboration, refinement of dance quality and dance expression, and metacognition). The intra-observer agreement reached 80% and the inter-observer agreement was 81%. The data was analyzed by using descriptive statistics. The statistical analysis revealed that when the teacher presented task constraints accompanied with body illustration and imagery, the students were more likely to perform dance movement with a clear quality (83% of the time) while they were less likely to generate divergent/original movement responses (3% of the time). In contrast, when the teacher presented open-ended tasks along with demonstrating various movement solutions, providing verbal suggestions, asking questions, and emphasizing learning cues, the students generated divergent/original movement responses 83% of the time, creatively sued movement elements to elaborate on their responses 47% of the time, and also performed dance movement with a clear quality 91% of the time. Further, when being asked to design their own dance sequences reflecting dance variety and quality, the students created divergent/unique dance sequences 63% of the time, creatively used movement elements to elaborate on their sequences 100% of the time, performed the dance sequences with efficient use of effort 199% of the time and practiced the dance sequence without the teacher's monitoring 63% of the time. When repeating dance sequences, the students performed them to the music/rhythm precisely 75% of the time. The results of this study provided a picture of the link between instructional actions and the use of critical thinking skills.

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