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Title: Is this the right room for an argument? : the effects of an internet-based argumentation intervention on aspects of self-regulated learning and critical thinking in young adolescents
Author: Milburn-Curtis, Coral J.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 8237
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The importance of developing learners’ self-regulated learning and critical thinking has captured the attention of researchers in recent decades. But interventions that are effective in developing such skills are scarce in the English school context. This study reports on the creation, design, implementation, piloting and evaluation of such an intervention - a four-week internet-based extra-curricular critical thinking course, Is this the right room for an argument? Designed by the researcher as a University of Oxford outreach course, it was provided, for the purposes of this study, to a group (N = 617) of eleven and twelve year old state-school students in England. Based upon self-regulated learning (SRL) and critical thinking (CT) research literature, the intervention comprised four elements which have been linked to progress in both SRL and CT: dialogic argumentation, written counterargumentation, self-reflection in a learning journal and critical thinking tests. The effectiveness of the intervention was evaluated by constructing three experimental conditions and one control condition, which isolated the effects of different combinations of the intervention activities. Structural equation modelling, regression techniques and repeated measures analysis of variance were used to detect main and experimental effects on change in SRL and CT over time, whilst autoregressive cross-lagged path analysis models were specified to explore the process of SRL in action over the course of four learning events. There was an anticipated overall main effect of the intervention, on change in aspects of SRL, with small and medium effect sizes, and on CT, with a medium effect size. It was hypothesised that the use of the learning journal would promote change in SRL and that participation in argumentation would promote progress in CT. Both hypotheses were supported. Participants who self-monitored their learning experience in a learning journal reported significantly more gains in aspects of their SRL, compared with those who did not, with small and medium effect sizes. The extent of participation in dialogic argumentation predicted change over time in CT, with a small effect size, in metacognitive knowledge, with a large effect size and in motivational beliefs and efficacy for learning, with medium effect sizes. Repeated measures analyses detected significant and positive trends over time in metacognitive activity (elaboration strategies, volitional strategies, critical thinking and metacognitive experiences), with effect sizes ranging from small (volitional strategies) to large (elaboration strategies). A process analysis tracked metacognitive activity over four learning events, detecting statistically significant reciprocal relationships between observed critical thinking and self-reported elaboration strategies, and between volitional strategies and metacognitive experiences. Findings suggest that this intervention had a positive effect on change in both self-regulated learning and critical thinking. Specifically, the more participants engaged in dialogic argumentation the more the change in both outcomes. The effects of the intervention, on change in self-regulated learning, were significantly enhanced when the critical thinking activity (argumentation) was accompanied by the self-regulatory activity (the learning journal).
Supervisor: Malmberg, Lars-Erik; Evangelou, Maria Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education ; Critical thinking ; self-regulated learning ; intervention