1 Palladio School (GREECE)
2 School of Pedagogical and Technological Education & Hellenic American Educational Foundation, College-Psychico College (GREECE)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Pages: 1742-1751
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain
In the age of information the concept of evaluation and efficiency come up quickly. The quality of our life highly depends on the quality of our thinking. Poor thinking proves to be expensive not only in money as mainly in the quality of life. Within such a context, the majority of the researchers who have treated critical thinking have focused to its skills as well as to the weaknesses that appear for its development. What is essential for the development of critical thinking are those skills related to the problem solving. In order that a person thinks critically, he must first learn general skills in problem solving and to be able to use the knowledge on a new basis. The educational method “Problem-Based Learning” (PBL) has been presented as a promising strategy for the enchanting of critical thinking of students.

In a parallel framework, many researches claimed that critical thinking skills can be better developed through the application of Web 2.0 tools. A division of Web 2.0 tools are the Wiki tools. The Wikis, when incorporated in the educational process, can support the collaborative activities that enchant critical thinking and problem solving. In any case, it is necessary to be incorporated into modern teaching strategies and techniques which can effectively maximize the ability of students to learn using mainly their critical thinking.

In the present study, a double teaching application of a Web 2.0 tool has been promoted and specifically the Wiki tool PbWorks. At first level the specific tool supported the traditional teaching “Discussion Model”. At a second level this Wiki tool was combined with the teaching method PBL. The aim in both cases was, through the above applications, to count and evaluate the development of critical thinking skills in primary education.

Following the above guidelines, two educational scenarios were designed, implemented and evaluated, in which the students, with the help of the Wiki tool PbWorks, tried to give solutions to the problem of the “environmental pollution”. The design and the implementation of the above procedure referred and applied to fifty six (56) students of sixth and fourth grade in primary school for the subject of English in 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 respectively. The whole procedure lasted a period of six (6) weeks.

The wiki tool PbWorks seems to be able to support effectively the PBL method as it incorporates the following characteristics:
a) it is focused on the problem,
b) it is student centered,
c) the environment is active and not passive,
d) the students control personally their understanding on the specific subject,
e) the teacher plays the role of facilitator,
f) in PbWorks pairs of students working together are formed.

The study has been based in evaluation rubrics and resulted that in the second teaching scenario in which the teaching method PBL and the collaborative writing were used, those critical thinking skills related to the problem solving were developed in a higher degree. More specifically there developed the recognition of assumption, the inference, the evaluation of arguments as well as the interpretation of ideas. This significant difference was observed in both classes of primary education in which the study was carried out.
Critical thinking, Problem-Based Learning, Wiki, PbWorks, collaborative writing, primary education.