Critical thinking experiences for students of child development: outcomes in values and attitudes

Lori A. Roggman, Utah State University
A.M. B. Austin
A. D. Hart

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Early childhood professionals are likely to benefit from critical thinking skills as they explore problems facing children and evaluate policy issues related to those problems. To facilitate their critical thinking, students in child development classes were assigned two types of learning activities: general exploration of problems that involved critical thinking only implicitly and specific activities that guided students explicitly through steps of critical thinking in the context of exploring problems facing children. Regardless of the type of assignment, students increased their self‐ratings of personal attributes related to public policy and helping others, understanding other cultures, and developing methods for human services. Also, students increased their value of both breadth and depth of postsecondary education. Nevertheless, the type of assignment appeared to have differential effects, with general experiences providing more changes in educational values and self‐confidence and specific experiences providing more change in knowledge and self‐awareness.