ERIC Number: ED349586
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Aug
Reference Count: N/A
Academic Debate and Critical Thinking: A Look at the Evidence.
Despite its longevity as an educational activity, little empirical evidence exists to support the notion that academic debate is of value to participants. Numerous contemporary texts have proposed and advanced the claim that debating enhances the critical thinking skills of participants. Several of these texts find this claim so apparent that it requires no real evidence to support it. However, a close examination of the available research materials yields scanty evidence at best. The endorsement of a causal relationship between debate and improved participant critical thinking ability generally rests on one of three sources: Gruner, Huseman, and Luck (1971); Huseman, Ware, and Gruner (1972); and Colbert and Biggers (1985). In addition to these reports, a large amount of personal testimonial evidence supports this view. Currently, there remains little or no scientifically gathered data to support the widely espoused belief that study of or participation in debate enhances a student's ability to think critically. What is needed is a study which examines the exact nature of the well-established link between debate and critical thinking ability. Finding fault with the support currently offered by researchers does not disprove the claim that debate enhances critical thinking ability but the assumptions, faculty reasoning, hasty conclusions, and the misinterpretation of such studies certainly do constitute bad support. (Thirty-two references are attached.) (HB)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Information Analyses; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Educational Issues
Note: Paper presented at the International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform (12th, Rhonert Park, CA, August 9-12, 1992).