The Impacts of Reflective Practices on the Dispositions for Critical Thinking in Undergraduate Courses
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The primary objective of this research was to determine if a specific set of reflective practices enhance university undergraduate students’ abilities to: 1) reflect on their thinking processes to become more aware of their own intellectual habits and how they form; 2) inquire with open-minded curiosity, including suspension of assumptions long enough for them to be challenged; and 3) generate justifiable, contextual understandings and judgments, individually and in collaboration. “Reflective practices” refers to a specific set of reflective learning activities introduced to undergraduates in two courses: mindfulness practice extended into journal writing, listening, inquiry and dialogue. The purpose of the reflective practices in this research was to support independent, critical thinking: well-reasoned, evaluative judgments based on evidence, contextual understanding, and respect for others. Students were instructed in both individual, introspective activity as well as in paired and group interaction while preserving a degree of mindfulness. Indicators of the dispositions for critical thinking were developed using grounded theory methods to study students’ experiences, as well as those dispositions previously identified in the research literature. Qualitative results showed increased self-confidence, engagement with multiple points of view, and an unexpected sense of connectedness that was stronger between students who disagreed with each other than between students who found easy agreement in their interaction. Quantitative results showed statistically significant gains in the average number of indicators of critical thinking dispositions appearing in student journals comparing week 1 to week 11. There was also positive correlation between final essay exam scores graded for critical thinking skills and the total number of indicators found in students’ journals.
- Critical thinking, critical thinking dispositions, reflexive disposition, reflexive methodology, reflective practices, reflective interaction, contemplative pedagogy, contemplation, contemplative practices, mindfulness, meditation, grounded theory, constructivist grounded theory, grounded theory methods, felt sense, student engagement, phenomenological research methods, mixed methods