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Peer interaction and the learning of critical thinking

Anderson, T. and Soden, Rebecca (2001) Peer interaction and the learning of critical thinking. Psychology Learning and Teaching, 1 (1). pp. 37-40. ISSN 1475-7257

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The ability to conduct reasoned argument (to support opinions with non-spurious evidence, to anticipate what evidence would support alternative opinions, to weigh the quality of competing items of evidence, and so on) is a key component of critical thinking. Kuhn (1991) suggested that practice might help improve thinking skills, and in particular that peer-based practice would be effective in improving such skills. Three studies that attempted to use peer interaction to help enhance students’ argumentative reasoning skills are briefly reviewed. Some evidence is provided that supports Kuhn’s advocacy of peer-based practice; however, some of the studies have supplemented the peer-based element of the situation with a more traditional, instructionbased teaching component. Nevertheless, it is concluded that peer interaction is a potentially useful method for helping inculcate thinking skills.