D. Morrison


Critical thinking, collaborative learning, computer-mediated communication


A central tenet of constructivism applied to the design of online learning environments is that these ought to facilitate processes whereby learners build and integrate complex representations of knowledge into patterns that are personally meaningful. Facilitating the activation and use of critical thinking in collaborative online learning environments is seen as key to the realization of this goal. This case study examined four adult learners’ experiences and interactions within a collaborative online learning environment incorporated as part of a unique Canadian agricultural leadership development program. Using the asynchronous computer conference transcripts and other data sources generated by this group, this study describes the dimensions of the presence or absence of various indices of critical thinking as operationally defined by the Integrated Thinking Model (ITM). Contextual and process factors such as team collaboration and peer facilitation were included in the analysis as significant considerations worthy of investigation. Results indicated that the case study participants demonstrated particular configurations of thinking skills as described by the model used. Design features of the learning environment, specifically constructivist principles embedded within the small group Issues Analysis learning project, and process factors, to include collaboration and active peer facilitation, were thought to positively affect the demonstration of critical thinking skills by participants.

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