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The meta-analysis used as a measure of effectiveness a modified version of a statistical measure known as “Cohen’s d”: the ratio of a difference in mean score to the statistical deviation (SD) of the scores in a reference group.
But they give a vivid impression of what might be accomplished in an educational system that takes the development of critical thinking as a goal.
Dewey established the Laboratory School explicitly as an experiment to test his theory of knowledge, which emphasized the part in the development of thought of problems which originated in active situations and also the necessity of testing thought by action if thought was to pass over into knowledge.
This methodologically careful meta-analysis provides strong statistical evidence that explicit instruction for critical thinking can improve critical thinking abilities and dispositions, as measured by standardized tests.
Although contemporary meta-analysis provides a more justified verdict on claims of causal effectiveness than other methods of investigation, it does not give the reader an intuitive grasp of what difference a particular intervention makes to the lives of those who receive it.
(Mayhew & Edwards 1936: 402–403) I think the children did get the scientific attitude of mind. They worked out the simplest problems that may have involved a most commonplace and everyday fact in the manner that a really scientific investigator goes to work.
(Mayhew & Edwards 1936: 403) It is difficult for me to be restrained about the character building results of the Dewey School.
In the interim, researchers have refined the methodology of experimenting with human subjects, in educational research and elsewhere.
They have also developed the methodology of meta-analysis for combining the results of various experiments to form a comprehensive picture of what has been discovered. (2015) report the results of such a meta-analysis of all the experimental and quasi-experimental studies published or archived before 2010 that used as outcome variables standardized measures of critical thinking abilities or dispositions of the sort enumerated in Facione 1990a and described in sections 8 and 9 of the main entry.
If children are to acquire such knowledge through investigation of problems, teachers must first provide information as a basis for formulating problems that interest them (Passmore 1980: 93–94).
More than a century has passed since Dewey’s experiment.