|dc.description.abstract||Critical thinking as a general skill has been gaining popularity since the 1980s and is included in the 21st century skills as a necessary skill for students to possess in order to function as a member of the future society. As such, research on critical thinking in general has been conducted in various fields of education, mainly in the science department. Previous studies on the subject of critical thinking in relation to geography have been conducted by Sharma & Elbow (2000); Lane (2009; 2015); Wolf, Stanton, & Gellott (2010); Lunenburg, (2011); Healey (2012), and Sziarto, McCarthy, & Padilla (2014). Research on the charateristics and the justification of critical thinking among experienced geography teachers has yet to be conducted.
In order to conduct research on this topic, a theoretical framework has been set up. It includes what critical thinking is, why teachers apply critical thinking and how teachers let students think critically. Following this is the Pegagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), introduced in order to characterise the teachers’ characteristics and justifications in regard to critical thinking. The PCK is subdivided in five main components by Park & Oliver (2008).
In order to typify the PCK of experienced geography teachers regarding critical thinking, a total of six semi-structured interviews have been conducted. The questions proposed in the interviews are based on the CoRes (Core Representatives), designed by Korthagen, Loughran, & Russell (2006). In addition to the CoRes are questions based on Tuithof’s translation of the CoRes for history (2017) and questions based on the final terms presented in the Dutch Syllabus Aardrijkskunde vwo (Syllabus Geography pre-university college). This resulted in a detailed schematic of subdivisions of the original five components and yields some notable results.
Firstly, one of the main findings is that experienced geography teachers have a difficult time defining critical thinking, similar to the regular science. The interviewed teachers regard critical thinking as an evaluation of information after analysing this information; the part where students have to form an opinion is often let out. Secondly, experienced geography teachers tend to justify critical thinking mainly by using their knowledge about students. All teachers considered the strong and weak points (in learning) of their students in addition to the (brain) development of the student in relation to critical thinking. All teachers also tried to anticipate what students are interested in – by making the topic relatable and using geographical imagination – to spark critical thinking. Thirdly, teachers often use class activities in relation to critical thinking that focus on forming an opinion, and/or focus on contextualising a topic in order to exhibit other perspectives. This is done to spark critical thinking. Fourthly, teachers explicitly consider which topics suit critical thinking and which do not. The teachers justify this consideration as follow: geography teachers believe topics related to people, space and/or the future suit critical thinking more than subjects unrelated to those. This implicitly yields that teachers believe human geography suits critical thinking more than physical geography. Fifthly, teachers use their own believes as a justification for teaching critical thinking in the classroom. This believe is mostly expressed as a duty to raise students to be critically thinking members of the future’s society. Some teachers specify this duty: they deem critical thinking important for student’s college life. Lastly, it turned out that teachers rarely used their knowledge of testing as a justification for critical thinking.
Follow up studies could attempt to detail the impact of the context (school, background, age and/or living area) of the geography teacher in relation to critical thinking. Moreover, studies regarding the link between critical thinking in the geography classroom and certain educational theories (such as constructivism and/or meta-cognitivism) have yet to be conducted. At last, the relation between the background of the geography teacher and critical thinking is not clear yet. There seems to be a link but this has yet to be researched more thoroughly.||