Developing Critical Thinking: A Comparison of Three Disciplinary Approaches

Keywords: higher education, concepts of modern natural science, mathematics, approaches to the development of critical thinking


Critical thinking is considered one of the most important results of university education. However, approaches to its development are controversial: there is very conflicting empirical data on the effectiveness of different approaches to the development of critical thinking.

Comparing approaches is difficult because different studies differ in the sets of critical thinking skills diagnosed, the learning conditions and the disciplines in which these approaches are implemented. Therefore, to carry out a comparative study of the effectiveness of infusion, immersion and mixed approaches to the development of critical thinking, a single discipline was chosen - “Concepts of modern natural science”, the differences between the approaches were formulated, which determined the general and different conditions for their implementation, a local definition of critical thinking for natural science was created, based on which identified a single set of diagnosable skills and developed a tool for their assessment. The study, covering 2019-2022, involved 619 students of the Faculty of Philology of RUDN University.

The mixed approach turned out to be optimal; it statistically significantly improved all groups of critical thinking skills. The infusion approach is less effective in developing decision-making skills and formulating inferences, but in other respects is not inferior to the mixed approach. The immersion approach is the least effective and primarily affects the group of information comprehension skills. The duration of the formation of critical thinking skills has a significant impact on the results: an impact spread  over two semesters is more effective than one compressed into one semester. The difference in results between first  and second year students may be explained by the cumulative nature of cognitive growth: learning has a delayed effect and there are epistemological crises in the perception of knowledge.


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How to Cite
SolodikhinaMaria V., and SolodikhinaAnna A. 2023. “Developing Critical Thinking: A Comparison of Three Disciplinary Approaches”. Voprosy Obrazovaniya / Educational Studies Moscow, no. 4 (December).
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