An analysis of critical thinking skills with gifted and general education students : relationships between cognitive, achievement, and demographic variables.
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Kettler, David Todd.
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Critical thinking is an often-stated educational objective in gifted education as well as general education. Yet for all the attention that 21st Century education has placed on thinking skills, including critical thinking, methods of assessing critical thinking are not well-developed or widely used. This study investigated the critical thinking skills of upper elementary students using two tests of critical thinking. Participants (n =208) were fourth grade students in a suburban school district in North Texas. Participants completed both the Cornell Critical Thinking Test and the Test of Critical Thinking. Existing data was collected from the school district, allowing for analysis of the relationships between critical thinking, cognitive ability, student achievement, and demographic variables. As part of the study, critical thinking skills were compared between identified gifted students and general education students. First the study found there was a significant relationship between the two measures of critical thinking (r =.60). Second, identified gifted students outperformed general education students on both measures of critical thinking (d =1.52 and d = 1.36). Third, evidence collected in the study supported significant relationships between cognitive ability and critical thinking as well as academic achievement and critical thinking. There was no evidence to support gender differences in critical thinking and weak evidence to support any critical thinking differences attributed to ethnicity or economic disadvantage. Multiple regression analyses were conducted predicting both tests of critical thinking. Data supported that cognitive ability and academic achievement were strong predictors of critical thinking. A random effects analysis of variance was conducted to rule out potential random effects associated with the participants nested in three different schools chosen at random in the participating school district.