Developing thinking skills in a primary social studies classroom : an action research
Boey-Lim, Serene Seow Khim
Sim, Jasmine Boon-Yee
This action research seeks to address the concern of developing thinking skills in pupils which are essential in the new knowledge-based economy. It opens a small window into a teacher’s experience of developing thinking skills using Paul’s Elements of Reasoning in a Primary Social Studies classroom. The action research methodology was adopted as it offers the flexibility of the eclectic use of multiple data collection methods of focused group interviews, observation notes and pupils’ artifacts which includes pupils’ work and reflections. This action research is undertaken in a top co-ed Special Assistance Plan Primary School in Singapore. The participants of this study are 42 mainstream Primary 5 pupils aged between 10 to 11 years old of mixed academic abilities. Pupils are taught Paul’s Elements of Reasoning and their progress in thinking is tracked by using a self-devised rubric. Findings revealed that pupils enjoy being challenged to actively engage in thinking and are now able to consider different viewpoints and formulate their own opinion on the issue. Pupils also found that Paul’s Elements of Reasoning facilitated their understanding of the topic. Though this action research is conducted on a small sample of pupils with unique profile and based on my personal experience in implementing thinking skills, using Paul’s Elements of Reasoning in a Primary Social Studies classroom, the action research has implications for pupils and teachers. The findings of this study suggest that Paul’s Elements of Reasoning may be culturally appropriate for use in the Singapore classrooms. It also emphasises to teachers the need to invest time and effort to teach thinking skills to pupils so that they will contribute as thinking individuals for the Singapore workforce in future. For the professional growth of teachers in Singapore, teachers should be encouraged to embark on action research.