Conceptual level and instructional structure on secondary students' higher order thinking and attitude toward social studies

Frances Belton Truncellito, Fordham University

Abstract

This study sought to determine the effects of high and low conceptual level cognitive styles (D. E. Hunt, 1972) on students' learning and instructional patterns (Suchman's, 1962, Inquiry Training Model and Thelen's, 1981, Group Investigation) on academic achievement defined as higher order thinking measured by the Test of Higher Order Thinking (Newmann, 1990c) and attitude toward social studies content measured by the Learning and Study Strategies Instrument-High School Version (Weinstein & Palmer, 1990). ^ Forty-three 11th- and 12th-grade students in a suburban high school in Northern New Jersey were classified as having either high or low conceptual levels by the results of the Paragraph Completion Test (D. E. Hunt, 1972). The work of Cicchelli (1983) was used to define the structure of the two instructional models (Inquiry Training Model [ITM], Suchman, 1962, which was defined as a high structure instructional model, and Group Investigation [GI], Thelen, 1960, which was defined as being low in structure). ^ The study was conducted in 10 consecutive 42-minute lessons, using two intact heterogeneous senior high school criminology classes (N = 43) that were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups. During the 10 sessions one group was exposed to the Group Investigation instructional pattern (n = 22), and the other group was exposed to the Inquiry Training Model (n = 21). All of the students in this study were enrolled in a Criminology class, an elective course, and the curriculum was based on Smith and Smith's (1992) You Decide!: Applying the Bill of Rights to Real Cases. ^ No significant differences existed between high and low conceptual level students or between the ITM and GI instructional patterns with respect to academic achievement or attitude toward social studies content. While no significant interactions occurred between conceptual level and instructional patterns the high conceptual level group did respond equally to both inquiry-based instructional patterns while students with low conceptual levels actually benefitted from a low structural instruction pattern. ^ In summary, the current study suggests that more research examining the match between students' cognitive styles and teachers, instructional patterns be examined to determine what factors positively impact on students' academic performance and attitude. Future research efforts should attempt to confirm any interactions between students' cognitive styles and educational environments. ^

Subject Area

Education, Secondary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Truncellito, Frances Belton, "Conceptual level and instructional structure on secondary students' higher order thinking and attitude toward social studies" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9960953.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9960953

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