Experts from Oxford’s Department of Education have found that students who study using the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum show stronger critical thinking skills than students using other curriculums.
In the comprehensive study that lasted more than one year. Looked at students at 8 schools in Australia, UK and Norway with the aim to study critical thinking abilities in students taking the IB Diploma Programme (DP). Critical thinkers are a person’s ability to analyse, synthesise and evaluate information. The DP is aim at students aged between 16 and 18.
Research was divided into 3 phases. Phase 1 consisted of a literature review and analysis of the IB materials to understand how the IB manages to integrate thinking critically throughout all DP subjects and curriculum components. In another phase, researchers conducted quantitative data collection in schools to assess the potential differences between DP and other students taking other forms of curriculum, using the Cornell Critical Thinking Test. The last phase, involved interviews with DP students and teachers, who spoke about their experiences learning and teaching critical thinking in DP.
During phase 2, researchers used statistics to explore the differences between DP and non-DP students. After controlling any variants, DP students were indeed found to have significantly higher skills of thinking critically than their non-DP peers.
The lead researcher, Professor Therese Hopfenbeck, stated after the findings,
“While we can’t know for certain whether IB participation improves critical thinking, it is noteworthy that even after controlling for many pre-existing differences, IB students appear to hold an advantage when it comes to thinking critically. The findings suggest that instructional approaches that focus on teaching critical thinking skills explicitly, as well as embedding opportunities for students to think critically within each subject, may facilitate the development of critical thinking skills.”
“IB students and teachers have identified many potential avenues by which the IB encourages the development of thinking critically, and hopefully in the future we can build an even clearer picture of how to improve students skills.”