Monthly Archives: August 2012

Critical Thinking Education Works – But How Well?

A published review of 117 empirical studies assessing the impact of critical thinking instruction on critical thinking (CT) skills and dispositions confirms my suspicions: some instruction has a powerful positive effect and some instruction has no effect at all. Overall, these results support the view that, on balance, there is a measurable positive effect. And there are tentative indications of what kind of instruction fosters the most marked improvements in critical thinking.

In their paper “Instructional Interventions Affecting Critical Thinking Skills and Dispositions: A Stage 1 Meta-Analysis,” (Review of Educational Research 78:4, December 2008), Philip Abrami and six Canadian co-authors attempt to derive measurements of the effect of pedagogical “interventions” intended to improve critical thinking.

In their meta-analysis, Abrami et al. used Ennis’ taxonomy to divide the studies into… Continue reading

American Egalitarianism – How Much Equality Do We Want?

John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice introduced a memorable thought experiment related to the nature of a just society. Rawls asked what principles would we chose to regulate the basic structure of society if we had to chose those them from behind a “veil of ignorance” as to our own position in that society. One of those was the “difference principle,” that is, that economic (and social) inequalities, to the extent that they exist, must be relatively advantageous to the most unfortunate members of society vs. a strict egalitarian distribution of wealth and income.

In a recent article (“How Americans view wealth and inequality“), behavioral economist Dan Ariely reviews data from a survey in which Americans were asked how much inequality there should be in… Continue reading