Social Acceptances And Critical Thinking In Adolescents Education Essay

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Critical thinking is the attitude of being willing to consider in a thoughtful way the problems that come within the range of ones experiences; knowledge of the methods of logical investigation and reasoning; and some skill in using those methods (Glaser, 1941).

Another definition of critical thinking is a unique and deliberate thinking in which the thinker systematically and usually inflicts criteria and intellectual standards upon the thinking, taking charge of the structure of thinking, guiding the structure of the thinking according to standards, and measuring the effectiveness of the thinking according to the purpose, criteria, and the standards of thinking (Richard Paul, 1995).

Peter Facione (1990) stated:"We appreciate critical thinking to be deliberate, self-regulatory decision, which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as justification of the evidential, theoretical, methodological, criteriological, or background considerations upon which that decision is based". Facione went on to describe good critical thinkers as "habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fair-minded in evaluation, honest in front of personal biases, careful in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about problems, orderly in complex matters, hard-working is seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in investigation, and constant in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and circumstances will allow ."

The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education in the UK states that a student should be able to make critical judgements and evaluations as part of their generic skills (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, 2002).

Thinking is the most fundamental of man's abilities. We are able to classify, analyze, generalize, deduce, induce, make decisions and solve problems without having been taught to think formally. It might not necessarily be true that being able to think spontaneously would lead to the ability to think effectively and well. The basic issue that justifies the call for teaching thinking in schools is the evidence that after 11 years of schooling, many students are unable to apply the content knowledge acquired in school to real-world problems. The business sector is complaining about the quality of the graduates they received from the universities who sometimes could not even comprehend instruction manuals, what more the way a piece of equipment works. In the case of the United States, the decline in the students' thinking competence was further highlighted by the results of the National Assessments of Educational Progress. Teaching students to think would mean to improve the quality of their thinking so that it would be consistent, productive, meaningful and effective. The ability to think critically and creatively becomes more crucial in the age of information and globalization whereby individuals have to sieve through tons of information which is not necessarily relevant.

One of the challenges facing Malaysia amidst its economic development is the achievement of a critical thinking society. This would enhance and guarantee the success of research and development programs in addition to having other socioeconomic effects.

The Malaysian Ministry of Education realized the above-mentioned needs and had begun to slowly inject the ideas of critical and creative thinking in the school system as early as in the late 1980s concurrent with the introduction of the Integrated Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KBSM) as a mechanism to realize the National Education Philosophy. The Ministry realized that the old curriculum was not balanced and over-emphasized the intellectual aspect more than the spiritual, emotional and physical aspects. Although cognitive skills were highlighted, they were only those on the lower step of Bloom's classification, which consist of the 'lower order skills'. The KBSM was an improvement as it encourages discussion and inquiry. Some of the teaching strategies that it proposed were methods of discovery and inquiry, discussion, the Socratic method of questioning and problem solving through the scientific method. The KBSM was to develop and enhance students' intellectual capacity with respect to rational, critical and creative thinking. However, the greatest impetus to emphasize the teaching of thinking in the education system came after the Prime Minister unveiled his Vision2020 for the nation in 1991. Malaysia's Vision 2020 describes nine challenges facing the nation that aspires to develop holistically which includes development of the various dimensions such as economics, social, politics, psychology, spiritual, and cultural. Interestingly, one of the major challenges lies in fostering and developing a mature democratic society, practicing a form of mature consensual, community-oriented Malaysian democracy. To meet this challenge would require Malaysians to think positively, critically and creatively.

The most significant move made by the Ministry after the KBSM was the introduction of the concept of the 'smart school' in 1997, whereby creative and critical thinking would become one of its landmarks, the other being the focus on the request of data and communication technologies in teaching and learning.

The Ministry of Education and the Faculty of Education of public universities throughout the country mounted more research on the educating of critical and creative thinking skills, especially in the 1990s. Unfortunately, this meticulous research were mostly kept on the library shelves gathering more dust and was never able to inform the practitioners in the Ministry and schools. Therefore, practitioners were unable to use research as a framework for making practical decisions. In the context of Malaysia, most of them either could not get access to the relevant literature, do not possess the learning culture for self-improvement, are too busy teaching and preparing students for examination or are complacent with their practices despite the declining educational standards. Eisner wrote on this phenomenon of educational research rarely informing educational practice and suggested some changes in approach that researchers need to undertake if educational research desires to inform educational practice.

The Ministry of Education has conducted several projects and programs of thinking skills in schools through the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC), and Teachers' Education Division (TED). They have also conducted workshops and provided training to teachers. For instance, the CDC conducted a pilot project on thinking skills across the curriculum in 1992/1993 in the district of Gombak, Selangor. This project involved 10 secondary schools and Form One teachers. The purpose of this project was to expose teachers to thinking skills, how to plan and prepare teaching and learning materials, and formulate strategies for teaching thinking. At the end of this project, teachers were found to agree that thinking skills were useful and should be taught in schools. They felt that due to the constraint of time, the infusion approach is most suitable for teaching thinking.

The Ministry introduced the Program for Instruction in Learning and Thinking Skills ("PeningkatandanAsuhanDayaIntelek"; PADI or PILTS) in 1992. The main focus of the PILTS Program is the identification of a core of relevant thinking and learning skills to be taught, integration of these skills in the content being learned, providing appropriate instructions and evaluation of the skills taught. The awareness of a need to teach thinking seriously in schools gained momentum when in 1993, Tan Sri Dr Wan ZahidMohamadNoordin the then Director-General of Education made it the responsibility of the teaching profession to develop thinking skills in society through reflective inquiry. He asserts that "teachers must engage in reflective inquiry, transmit knowledge, attitude, and skills. They should develop thinking skills. The student should not only be taught to answer questions, but also to question answers and to question questions"." The Curriculum Development Centre even published a manual to explain the concept, model and teaching strategies for teaching critical thinking skills to teachers.' A year later he announced that the main target of the Ministry of Education by the year 2000 is to have sixty per cent of the examination questions to be of the "critical thinking" nature. In fact the SijilPelajaran Malaysia's History paper in 1994 had already used questions which require critical thinking.

Subsequently, in 1996 the Teacher Education Division (TED) of the Ministry of Education, introduced a course entitled "Critical and Creative Thinking Skills" in its Post-Degree Teaching Program (KPLI). This course was an effort to educate future teachers on how to teach thinking skills across the curriculum. The TED also introduced this subject for its in-service courses.

The social element in Kuhn's (1991) definition refers to the discussion of ideas with peers who are engaged in a collaborative process of knowledge building. Researchers have argued that peer relationships are unique in their ability to provide the types of interactions that lead to the development of empathy, cognition, and social behaviour (Youniss, 1980).

Johnson and Johnson (1999) maintain that collaborative peer learning promotes greater conceptual development and results in greater enjoyment of the learning task. Collaboration is thought to contribute to higher order learning through cognitive restructuring or conflict resolution. Anderson, Howe, Soden, Halliday, and Low (2001) stated thatpeer communication can have a positive effect on conceptual development as a function of conceptual conflict. However, in addition they note that evidence also exists (Roazzi& Bryant, 1998) for the positive effects of agreement. Many studies have examined the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving critical thinking skills (see Pithers

and Soden, 2000). These interventions have included the concept of guided practice (Anderson et al., 2001) and scaffolding (Wood & Wood, 1996) to guide students through the thinking process by assessing their current level of thinking through dialogue and then asking questions to move them into the next level. Other interventions have involved the introduction of peer interaction into critical thinking tasks in an attempt to improve students' cognitive skills in this area (Anderson et al., 2001; Schwartz, Neuman, Gil, &Ilya, 2003).

Research by Anderson et al. (2001) supported Kuhn's (1991) suggestion that critical thinking skills, in particular evidence-based justification, can be improved with guided practice. Their research involved vocational education students from Further Education colleges who were engaged in peer-based critiquing of each others' project proposals. It was found that face-to-face peer interaction was beneficial in improving critical thinking skills; however, justification tended to be anecdotal in nature or based on personal experience, as opposed to justification using research-based evidence.

Ocker and Yaverbaum (1999) used a repeated-measures experimental design to compare student groups each of which teamed up on two case studies, one using face-to-face association and the other using asynchronous computer discussing. Their findings indicated that associating in the online condition was just as successful as in the face-to-face condition, in terms of learning, superiority of solution, solution content and pleasure with the solution.

Newman,Webb, and Cochrane (1995) also compared face-to-face groups with online groups, focusing on the depth of critical thinking. They found evidence for critical thinking in discourse from both face-to-face and computer conference seminars and their analysis showed similar depths of critical thinking in online discussion and face-to-face one.

However, a greater proportion of new ideas emerged in the face-to-face seminars, whereas more ideas in the computer conferences were coded as important, justified or linked together. Newman et al. (1995)argued that the asynchronous environment discouraged students from brainstorming and contributing new ideas, but rather encouraged considered, well thought-out contributions. Newman et al. (1995) developed an extensive content analysis technique, based on Garrison's (1991) model of critical thinking, to code the online and face-to-face contributions of students on an Information Society module. However, they did not code every statement in the transcripts, neglecting to count or code content that was deemed too subjective or interpretive for meaning to be reliably inferred. Thus, their method of analysis involved classifying only the obvious examples and ignoring content that could not be identified easily as belonging to a particular critical thinking category. Statements were described as often showing more than one indicator and there was no measure of interpreter reliability as it was difficult to clearly define a unit of analysis. Therefore, the reliability of this method is questionable when attempting to objectively assess the nature of educational discourse and the level of critical thinking in face-to-face discussion and online transcripts using a quantitative content analysis technique.

The critical thinking skills known by the board of experts were interpretation, analysis, assessment, deduction, description, and self-regulation. If the level of critical thinking in adolescence students is measured, it is really helpful to curriculum developer or who are in charge to educational policy to make the best decision for teaching thinking skills.

In the world beyond the classroom, high school students are bare to powerful messages that confuse efforts to think critically. The fundamental need for critical thinking in and beyond formal learning in everyday life, relationships, ethical choices, and in the preservation and development of participatory democracies grows more and more apparent (Edwards, 2001; Halpern, 2003; Pithers, 2000). The proliferation of information via the Internet will only be managed effectively by individuals with well-developed thinking skills.

Critical thinking used to be thought of as an intellectual exercise expected only of an educated influential. This practice of relying on a small section of the population to be the thinkers for society is superseded (Hay, 2001). Marshak (2003) writes:

The public school system that we have today was constructed during the first two decades of the 20th century. . .public schools were shaped to fit industrial models of efficient manufacture. One key role for schools was sorting children according to their apparent abilities and encouraging many to fall out and go to work as unskilled labourers. In addition to the academic inferiority of the schools that commonly serve large alternative populations, economically distressed and alternative families often lack the knowledge or connections with institutions that can facilitate entry into college or a occupational training program, as well as potential funding sources and vocation options (Neill, 2003; Stanton-Salazar, 1997). This lack of social capital or access to social structures in order to attain a certain end considerably affects their future prospects. It is really pointed out how these students are further disadvantaged when their school experience does not include the development of critical thinking skills like problem solving, decision making, reasoning through argument, and recognizing ways in which they may avoid delicate compulsion into a lifestyle that is counterproductive to setting long-term aims.

High school students who do not amuse a future that includes post secondary education way out the K-12 pipeline prior to graduation at a much higher rate than their privileged fellow students. A recent study by the Urban Institute (Orfield, Losen,Wald, & Swanson, 2004)exposed that the national high school drop-out rate is far greater than the states' self-reported rates. In California, the numbers are particularly high, especially among African-American and Latino students; only 57% of African-Americans and just 60% of Latinos graduated in 2002, compared with 78% of White students and 84% of Asians. The ramifications of such large numbers of drop-outs for the individual, their families, and society are deeply alarming as are the suggestions that students are being forced out by schools seeking higher responsibility test scores (Harvard University, 2005).

Statement of Problem

It is clear that adolescence is one of the most critical stages in human's life span. In this stage, they typically increase the amount of time spent with their peers. Besides communication with peers helps them to socialize in society, there are many cognition skills that may learnt by peer interactions.

According to the cognitive theory adolescents start to think logically. They use theories and plans to solve their problems, so it could be conveyed critical thinking process begin in adolescence. Although it is ambiguous in which level critical thinking appear in this stage and does it be affected by social elements. Moreover limited research related to critical thinking in adolescence was identified. since critical thinking in adolescence is subject-specific (Ennis, 1989; Facione, 1990; Tindal &Nolet, 1995; Angeli, 1999; Halliday, 2000), and they learn many skills through communication with peers and society then there seems to be a need for a study that would explain the critical thinking ability of adolescent and its interaction with peer communication and social behaviour.

Theoretical Framework

This study based on combination of both cognitive and social cultural theory:

Piaget (1958) stated adolescents begin to think logically, devising plans to solve problems and systematically testing solutions. So according Piaget theory critical thinking should accrue in adolescence.

Vygotesky (1978) emphasis on the social element in children's structure of knowledge has led to the collaboration with peers helps learners reach new knowledge.

Conceptual Framework

Three main variables will be utilized in this study. However, there are any possibilities about the way of relationship or interaction between them. It is obvious demography of participants will be influenced in social elements (social acceptance and peer communication) directly, although it is ambiguous which social variables, social acceptance or peer communication, mediate other variable to critical thinking. It is a more possible model of relationship between variables.


Justification of Study

As a part of formal operational stage in Piaget theory, process of appearance of critical thinking start in adolescence. Adolescents should start to take some main personal and social decisions in their life. It are seen that 90% of adolescents associate themselves with a peer group. The nature of an adolescent's behaviour is greatly influenced by his friends and companions.

Research Questions

This study includes three research questions that investigate possible interactions between critical thinking, social acceptance and peer communication.

 Is there significance evidence of critical thinking in adolescents with high level in peer communication?

Is there significance evidence of critical thinking in adolescents with high level in social acceptance?

Do critical thinking and social acceptance and peer communication interact with each other?

Significance of Study

This study has the potential to impact the research participants themselves, and also the population of adolescence students they represent. Being able to explain critical thinking skill in terms of the independent variables used in the study could help curriculum developers, educators, and administrators to develop the critical thinking evaluation and performance procedures necessary to raise the overall critical thinking skills and dispositions of students.

This study is important because many people and organization could use of its finding. This finding will be useful for all educational centers, schools and especially for The Malaysian Ministry of Education.

There is plentiful evidence that a large proportion of high schools inadequately arrange young people for the real-world demands of work, higher education, and everyday living. Primary among the deficits recognized are competencies associated with specific higher level cognitive processes, or simply put, critical thinking. High school graduates must be able to judge the credibility of sources, evaluate arguments, and distinguish among facts and opinion .to evaluate [the media] to help them identify potential them become confidence media consumers . . . to interpret, create data to inform decisions or draw conclusions. Students themselves recognize the importance of higher order thinking skills in terms of their ability to succeed as young adults. In an on-line survey of over 10,000 high school students across the nation, over 40% responded that they did not feel their school experience provided practical and necessary life skills, and over one-third rated their critical thinking training as fair-to-poor (National Governor's Association, 2005).

General Objective

Describe contribution of critical thinking level in high school students. Identify relationship or impact of social factor on appearance of critical thinking process.Find an appropriate model to describe and predict the relationship between variables

Definition of Terminology


Adolescent: Adolescent is a transitional stage of physical and mental human development generally occurring between puberty and legal adulthood (Viner R 2005).  

Critical thinking: critical thinking is deliberate, self-regulatory decision which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and deduction explanation of the decision (Facione, 1990).

Peer communication: peer communication is the association of peers into small groups that have altering abilities in which all students can participate to get a common aim.

Social acceptance: social acceptance is the degree to which an adolescent is socially accepted by peers. It includes the level of peer attractiveness and the ease with which an adolescent can begin and preserve acceptable peer relationships.


Adolescent: According to Erikson stage's of human development an adolescent is a person between the ages of 13 and 19

Critical thinking: The pre-disposed attitude one naturally possesses regarding critical thinking. The level of critical thinking in participants will be measured through the researcher-developed Engagement, Maturity, and Innovativeness (EMI).

Peer communication: The level of peer communication will be measured by The children's expectations of social behaviour questionnaire (Rudolph, Hammen, & Burge, 1995) and inventory of peer attachment (Armsden& Greenberg, 1987)

Social acceptance: This study will find the level of social acceptance through social acceptance Asher and Dodge's (1986) measure.

Specific Objective

Identify the link between peer communication and critical thinking

Identify the link between social acceptance and critical thinking

Did peer communication mediate the link between social acceptance and critical thinking?

Research Hypothesis

This study search for identifying interacts and impacts of social elements on critical thinking, so there are three hypotheses to anticipate relationship between variables.

There is significance evidence of critical thinking in adolescents with high level in peer communication

There is significance evidence of critical thinking in adolescents with high level in social acceptance

Critical thinking and social acceptance and peer communication interact with each other.


Research Design:

In this quantitative research will be used correlation design to determine the relationship between variables.

Besides, descriptive method will be used to describe the distribution of variables

Inclusion Criteria

Age: all participants will be in adolescence age (13-19)

Gender: They will be roughly equally split by gender

Race and Language: they will be selected roughly equally among three races (Malay, Indian, and Chinese)

Sampling and participants

Participants will be selected through cluster sampling method.

Population will be all adolescents in KL high schools.

Participants will be 300 adolescents in KL high schools

Data Collection

All data will be collected through questionnaires with good reliability and validity. Therefore, it could be conveyed self-report questionnaires will be used as a data collection technique in this study.


Four questionnaires will be used in this study:

The researcher-developed Engagement, Maturity, and Innovativeness (EMI) critical thinking disposition assessment will be used to measure the critical thinking disposition of adolescents.

Adolescents' representations of peers. The Children's Expectations of Social Behaviour Questionnaire (Rudolph, Hammen, & Burge, 1995) will be used to tap children's representations of pee rs.

Inventory of Peer Attachment (Armsden& Greenberg, 1987) to measure peer attachment in adolescents.

Social acceptance Asher and Dodge's (1986) social acceptance measure will be used in this study


Adolescents' representations of peers. The Children's Expectations of Social Behavior Questionnaire (Rudolph, Hammen, & Burge, 1995) will used to tap adolescents' representations of peers. purposely, this 15-item questionnaire taps adolescents' expectations of their peers' responses to hypothetical aversive situations in which a adolescent needs help, hold up, and sensitivity from his or her peers. This measure was made to order to make it appropriate for situations that involved adolescents, and to include a 4-point response format (rather than a 3-point response format) ranging from (1) most positive expectation to (4) most negative expectation (Cassidy & Woodhouse, 1997; Appendix B). All items will b eupturned scored. For each item, adolescents read a vignette depicting a hypothetical situation and were then instructed to recognize how the peers would answer to the situation. Rudolph et al. (1995) accounted good psychometric properties for theprimary measure (e.g., good internal consistency, test-retest reliabilities and substantial construct validity in a sample of 7-to 12-year-old children). They also reported good convergent validity for this measure. For example, they found that children who had more negative representations of peers were significantly more likely to exhibit maladaptive social behavior and lower social competence. In that study, the Cronbach's alpha was 0.76.

This measure contained a set of written instructions asking adolescents to "rate the extent to which you like to be in activities with the following students." Below this set of instructions, was the same roster of 75 classmates that the adolescent used in the social behavior instrument. Adolescents used a 5-point Liker-type scale ranging from not at all (1) to a lot (5) to make their ratings. A social acceptance score for each participant was computed based upon ratings that the participant received from his or her classmates. This score was calculated first by taking the mean of all the ratings for that participant and then standardizing this mean within the participant's school. Moreover, in a longitudinal study of early adolescents, Wentzel and Caldwell (1997) reported substantial test-retest reliability and predictive validity, indicating that social acceptance mediated by prosocial behavior was related to adolescents' GPA during sixth and eighth grade.

From the original 60 item critical thinking pilot disposition test, item and scale reliability analysis left a scale with 30 items and an overall Cronbach's alpha of 0.86. The Innovativeness construct was represented by seven items and a standardized Cronbach's alpha of 0.79, the Maturity construct was represented by six items and a standardized Cronbach's alpha of 0.75, and the Engagement construct was represented by 13 items and a standardized Cronbach's alpha of 0.89. These reliability estimates were deemed very high using the standard criteria (r = 0.65 to 0.75) of Norris and Ennis (1989). Additional statistics, such as each item's mean, standard deviation, corrected item-total correlation, and alpha if the item were deleted are reported in Table 3-3. Items were retained if they did not have extreme means; had what was considered to be enough variability in responses; had corrected item-total correlations over 0.2; and would make the reliability of the scale stronger.

After the pilot test scores were analyzed and the strongest scale was identified, the researcher added items to the Maturity construct to include a broader representation of aspects of the Maturity disposition. This left the new EMI instrument with 33 items.

Peer attachment scales (a = .90) consisted of 25 items and were rated on a five-point scale (sample items: ''my parents/friends understand me''). Each of the subscales (trust, alienation, and communication) was submitted to a PC factor analysis and a parallel factor emerged for both parent and peer attachment. The factor from the parent scales was labelled

''parental secure attachment'' (k = 2.41%; 80.4% of the variance) and consisted of trust (.91) and communication (.88), which loaded positively and alienation, which loaded negatively

(_0.90). The factor from the peer scales was labelled ''peer secure attachment'' (k = 2.31%;

77.1% of the variance) and consisted of trust (.92) and communication (.91), which loaded positively and alienation, which loaded negatively (_.80).

Data Analysis Method

Mean, mode and variance will be used to describe contribution of data T-test will be used to identify the link between variablesMultiple regression analyses will be used to identify direct and indirect link between variables that mediated by other variables. Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) will be used to analysis all data.