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International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, v1 n2 p57-69 2005

Thinking skills are important and education is expected to develop them. Empirical results suggest that formal education makes a modest and largely indirect difference. This paper will describe the early stages of an ongoing curriculum initiative in the teaching of critical reasoning skills in the philosophy curriculum on the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). The project is intended to make a significant contribution to the challenge of helping students think more effectively. The general outlines of the critical reasoning skills "problem" are described, along with some remarks on the form it takes in South African post-secondary education. This is accompanied with some observations concerning the optimistic claims often made on behalf of philosophy, and the study of philosophy, in the area of reasoning skills, and some indications of the actual success of most attempts to teach reasoning skills. Thereafter some general results from an approach in the study of cognition, most often referred to as "distributed cognition", are outlined. These results form part of the explicit motivation for the development and design of a software system for supporting critical reasoning teaching. The ReasonAble system was developed at the University of Melbourne, Australia, and is currently in use at UKZN. The main features of the software system are briefly described. Finally the specific implementation developed so far at UKZN is explained, and the results of initial evaluations by students are reported. Some comments on envisaged future evaluations and forthcoming initiatives extending the use of the system are outlined.

Descriptors: Thinking Skills, Foreign Countries, Critical Thinking, Curriculum Development, Philosophy, Computer Software, Technology Uses in Education, Teaching Methods, Educational Technology, Persuasive Discourse, Undergraduate Students, Program Effectiveness, Student Evaluation, Student Attitudes

International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology. University of the West Indies Open Campus, Dave Hill, St. Michael BB11000, Barbados. Tel: 868-663-9021; Fax: 868-645-9741; Web site:

Autor: Spurrett, David


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