For students to portray critical thinking in their studies, they must have acquired the necessary skills, knowledge and abilities required to solve research problems and enhance their intellectual development. However, in this article, the statement problem being investigated is the promotion of critical thinking through an interdisciplinary curriculum design using multidisciplinary faculty as well as details the implementation of an experimental short-term study abroad program in China.
The research questions in the article are as follows: i). What are the promotion of critical thinking through an interdisciplinary curriculum design using multidisciplinary faculty and multicultural perspective? ii). Which structure can educationists use to promote critical thinking through an interdisciplinary approach in a study abroad program?
The methodology used to answer these specific questions is by i) allowing students to learn in a cultural setting that was more foreign to them; ii) exposing them to a nation where English is not the native language; and iii) utilizing the prior experience of all three program faculty with Chinese culture including multiple visits to the nation.
Through the students reflections in their final report, the educationalists discovered that one, valuable information about the growth in developing global and global awareness, critical thinking skills in analyzing issues, and decision making ability in the context of historical development and present social and cultural milieu and using multiple perspectives. Two, when the students were asked question that would reveal skills and knowledge from their study, their answers showed that their understanding of connectedness of global issues, depth of analysis, and their desire to learn more beyond the question itself. Three, some students were able to confirm an appreciation for diverse cultural practices. Finally, the desire for lifelong learning was captured succinctly by one of the student.
The article concludes that first, the thematic interdisciplinary approach for a short term study abroad program was effective in developing analytic and critical thinking skills among students. Second, the basic principles of the program such as great questions, selecting sites for visits that allowed the learners to draw content knowledge from different disciples, and choosing themes that permitted analysis of issues in both global and global contexts proved to be beneficial. Third, cultural immersion and focus on higher order thinking questions helped develop student understanding and appreciation to their own and other cultures. Forth, the application of the determinative and collective assessments, effectively stimulated students critical thinking skills and the desire and ability to apply them to real life issues besides kindling in them the desire for lifelong learning. Finally, it was a true learning experience for those who had participated in the study abroad program due to well-coordinated efforts from students, faculty, and the counterparts in China.
What are the implications of the ideas presented in the article for future educational leaders?
Cultural involvements develop students global awareness and strengthen their critical thinking skills in order to enhance their abilities in decision making. It also promotes individuals understanding on the connection between their individualistic desire to acquire more information beyond the presented question only, the global problems, and the complexity of the examination. By being exposed to different cultures, individuals are able to learn how to appreciate diversified cultural practices, strengthen their alertness in spotting errors in the fields, and increase their aspiration for lifelong education.
Cai, W.W. (2015). Promoting Critical Thinking through an Interdisciplinary Study Abroad Program. Journal of International Students, Pg 38-49. Vol 5
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