Author: Ng, Sau Yee
Title: Exploring Chinese community college students’ critical thinking and the associated factors contributing to their critical thinking development : a mixed methods study
Advisors: Cheung, Kin (SN)
Cheng, Eileen (SN)
Degree: DHSc
Year: 2022
Subject: Critical thinking
College students -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
Pages: xviii, 271 pages : color illustrations
Language: English
Abstract: Background
There has been a tremendous emphasis on the nurture of critical thinking (CT) in community college education across the world in recent decades. Despite this, only a little research has been undertaken to evaluate CT performance among community college students, particularly in Asian populations.
The purpose of this research work is to explore the CT cognitive skills and dispositions of Chinese community college students, as well as the associated factors contributing to their CT development from both student and academic staff's perspectives, in order to propose specific strategies to enhance their CT development.
The study was undertaken at Hong Kong Community College of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A two-phase sequential explanatory mixed methods design was used and it consisted of a quantitative Phase One study, followed by a qualitative Phase Two study. The Phase One of the study was a cross-sectional study with 209 students recruited to measure their CT cognitive skills, CT dispositions and associated factors. The instruments included California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST), California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and self-developed questionnaire "CT Learning Experience Questionnaire"(CTLEQ). In Phase Two of the study, focus group interviews were carried out and a purposive sampling of 43 students and 25 teachers was obtained. Qualitative content analysis was performed to identify themes from the interview data based on the transcriptions prepared. The quantitative and qualitative data obtained from these two phases were integrated for the confirmation and support of the study conclusions.
The quantitative results indicated that the mean overall CT cognitive skill score of the students concerned was near to the upper moderate level limit while their CT disposition was rated as "inconsistent/ambivalent" according to the standard manual. By using the stepwise multiple regression analyses, a number of factors associated with students' CT cognitive skills and CT dispositions are identified. On the other hand, the qualitative results revealed 3 main themes in this study, i.e., "students' & teachers' perceptions toward CT", "perceived influencing factors of CT", and "CT pedagogical strategies based on students' & teachers' perspectives". After integrating the findings obtained from these two phases, students' cognitive skills and dispositions are associated with multiple factors including their "prior/discipline-specific knowledge", "capabilities", "personal interests and motivation", "past learning experience"and "learning styles and habits". Furthermore, the integrated findings revealed some effective CT pedagogical strategies as recommended by students and teachers, include "debate", "problem-based learning", "converging learning style", "taking CT subject", "group work", "extracurricular activities", "tutorial", "discussion questions raised in class", "workshop", "lecture", "lab work" and Work-Integrated Education (WIE). The imperative element in CT achievement is the CT elements incorporated in the teaching and assessment methods, rather than the teaching methods alone.
This is the first-of-its-kind study to assess both the CT cognitive skills and dispositions of Chinese community college students in relation to the Asian context, and all conclusion items are new findings for similar studies. This is also the first study to include various factors, i.e., "HKDSE Total Score", "CT subject grade level", CCTDI and CCTST subscale scores" and "preferred teaching methods", "learning style" and "previous experience with extracurricular activities", in the regression model to determine the associated factors for CT cognitive skills and dispositions, which establish the body of knowledge in the understanding of CT among postsecondary students. With these findings, some implications and recommendations are provided for CT education in Chinese community colleges, including the incorporation of explicit CT teaching activities (e.g., CT subjects) in the curriculums, the incorporation of CT elements in teaching (e.g., game-based learning and competitions) to enhance students' interest in learning CT, the design of higher-order thinking questions to cultivate students' CT, the reformation of college policy to redesign CT syllabus, and the suggested effective CT pedagogical strategies found in the quantitative and qualitative results. This study provides recommendations to community college administrators and educators to determine specific CT strategies that are advantageous to Chinese community college students to reinforce and enhance their CT cognitive skills and dispositions, thus an interventional strategy can be developed and implemented to measure the effectiveness in the future. This study is beneficial, and it serves as a framework that guiding future practice and research in this area.
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Access: restricted access

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