|dc.description.abstract||This dissertation describes an action research study aimed at promoting critical thinking
in learners while learning physical science within the South African national curriculum.
The data were primarily qualitative in nature, and were collected primarily through
participant observation, composed of audio- and video- recorded lessons, interviews,
questionnaires, journal entries and written material. Data collection, analysis and
interpretation were done in the inductive, cyclic manner of action research. This process
was guided by research questions about task characteristics, their position in the teaching
sequence, the role of the learning environment, and the need to adjust tasks to fit the
needs of different learners, so as to effectively promote critical thinking. A pragmatic
approach was used.
It was found that it is possible, using particular strategies and tasks, to promote critical
thinking while meeting the curriculum outcomes, although the intense syllabus pressure
of the curriculum makes this challenging. Task design characteristics and positioning in
the teaching sequence, and conditions of the learning environment, were found to affect
a task’s effectiveness at promoting critical thinking. Various teaching strategies can
improve attainability by a wider range of learners.
An instructional model, The Ladder Approach, emerged as being most likely to promote
success. This was found to be successful when evaluated against criteria of active
engagement and interest by learners, attainability with effort, display of critical thinking
traits, and compatibility with the South African curriculum. In this model, an interesting
problem is posed at the start of a section, after which direct instruction and learner
engagement with the problem run parallel to one another, linked by scaffolding tools
which are engaged in individually and collaboratively.||en_US