The Effectiveness of Teaching Critical Thinking Skills on Students’ Academic Achievement in Mathematics and Science: A Study in Timss Framework

Document Type : Original Article


1 Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Psychology, Educational and Developmental Psychology , Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran

3 Institute for Educational Research (IER), Tehran, Iran


The present study, conducted in Timss 2007 framework, aimed to examine the effectiveness of teachingcritical thinking on students’ academic achievement in mathematics and science. Research design was Quasi-experimental. Research sample (With available sampling method) included two classes of third grade students in Eghbal middle school in Baharestan, Tehran, Iran in 2014-15 randomly assigned to experimental and control groups. Afterwards, the experimental group received critical thinking instructionfor 12 sessions, while the control group received no training during this period. The data were gathered using parallel forms of Timss 2007 framework, which were implemented in three periods. The data were analyzed through Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), and t-test. Results showed that critical thinking teaching could considerably improve students’ performance in mathematics and science in domains of reasoning and applying; however, no significant relationship was revealed between critical thinking teachingand students’ performance in the domain of knowing. Findings of the follow up test, in addition, indicated a significant decrease in applicants’ scores of the experimental group. It can be concluded that critical thinking teachingshould be brought into sharper focus in syllabuses of middle schools as its principles could not only resolve students’ problems in academic issues but they would also result in improving performance of students in the domains of mathematics and science.


Abasi, E. (2001). The study of effective skills on enhancing critical thinking in sociology syllabuses in 2000-1. (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Tarbiat Moallem University, Tehran. 
Altintas, E., & Ozdemir, A. S. (2012). the effect of teaching with the mathematics activity based on Purdue Model on critical thinking skills and mathematics problem solving attitudes of gifted and non-gifted students. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 853–857. 10.1016/ j.sbspro.2012.05.212
Arizi, H., Abedi, A., & Taji, M. (2010). The relationship between different question forms (multiple-choice, free-response) with metacognitive processes and emotions in assessment of mathematics. Quarterly Journal of Educational Innovations, 9 (33), 121-8.
Arslan, C., Göcmencelebi, S. I., & Tapan, M. S. (2009). Learning and reasoning styles of pre service teachers’: Inductive or deductive reasoning on science and mathematics related to their learning style. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 2460–2465.
Ataollahi, E. (1996). The comparison of lecture-based and problem-based methods in nursing students’ learning. (Unpublished Master’s thesis). Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran.  
Baba Muhammadi, H., & Khalili, H. (2004). Critical thinking skills of nursing students in Semnan University of Medical Sciences. Iranian Journal of Medical Education, 4 (2), 23-31.
Badri Gargari, R. (2008). The impact of rethinking on the practice of critical thinking-teachers and planning an appropriate way to enhance critical thinking in students. (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation).  Tabriz University, Tabriz.
Bakhtiar Nasrabadi, H., Mousavi, S., & Alibakhshi, F. (2011). The role of critical thinking attitude, cognitive ways of learning, and probing in prediction of academic achievement. Quarterly Journal of New Thoughts on Education, 7 (4), 115-138.
Barlow, J. H., Powell, L. A., Gilchrist, M., & Fotiadou, M. (2008). The effectiveness of the training and support program for parents of children with disabilities: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 64(1), 55–62. 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.06.006
Bayat, M. H. (2010). The effect of teaching critical thinking on academic achievement of students in mathematics.Paper presented at The Third national conference of creativity, TRIZ, Iranian innovation management and engineering, Culture and Art Research Centre of Jahad Daneshgahi, Tehran, Iran. 
Botvin, G. J., Barker, K., Renik, N. L., Filazzola, A. D., & Botvin, E. M. A. ( 1984). Cognitive-behavioral approach to substance abuse prevention. Psychology of Addictive Behavior, 9, 137-47.
Daneshravayi, Gh. (2007). The role of mathematics in human life and nature cognition. Tehran: Roshd.
De Koning, E., Hamers, J. H. M., Sijtsma, K., & Vermeer, A. (2002). Teaching inductive reasoning in primary education. Developmental Review, 22(2), 211–241.
Dolan, E., & Grady, J. (2010). Recognizing students’ scientific reasoning: a tool for categorizing complexity of reasoning during teaching by inquiry. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 21(1), 31–55. https://
Ertekin, E., Dilmac, B., & Yazici, E. (2009). The relationship between mathematics anxiety and learning styles of preservice mathematics teachers. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 37(9), 1187–1195. sbp. 2009 .37.9.1187
Facione, P. A. (2010). Critical thinking: What it is and why it counts, Insight assessment, Retrieved from
Ghasempour Moghadam, H. (2010). The application of critical thinking model in teaching Persian literature.Journal of Teaching Persian, 55, 16-20. 
Gonzalez, M. D. (2003). Remedial intervention for children with behavior disorders. Journal of psychology, 4 (1), 37-5.
Hajhoseini, M. (2012). The effect of dialogic teaching on students' critical thinking disposition. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 69, 1358 – 1368.
Hashemian Nejad, F. (2001). A theoretical framework for a critical-thinking-based syllabus in elementary school with an emphasis on social studies. (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Islamic Azad University, Research and Science Branch, Tehran. 
Jacob, S. M. (2012). Mathematical achievement and critical thinking skills in asynchronous discussion forums. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 800–804.
Karimi, A. (2008). A glance at place and trend of students’ performance in Iran in studies of Timss and Pirls. Tehran: Research Center of the Education Studies.
Karimi, A. (2008). Timss questions on mathematics and science (Third grade of middle school) in addition to national and international results of Timss in 2007 in comparison to that in 1995, 1999 and 2003. Tehran: Research Center of the Education Studies.
Kazemi, R., Momeni, S., & Kiamarsi, A. (2011). The effectiveness of life skills training on the social competence of students with dyscalculia. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 1 (1), 94-108. 
Kitot, A. K. A., Ahmad, A. R., & Seman, A. A. (2010). The effectiveness of inquiry teaching in enhancing students’ critical thinking. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 7, 264–273. .10.037
Lam, W. K., Fals-Stewart, W., & Kelley, M. L. (2008). Effects of parent skills training with behavioral couples therapy for alcoholism on children: A randomized clinical pilot trial. Addictive Behaviors, 33(8), 1076–1080.
Law, Ch., & Kaufhold, A. J. (2009). An analysis of the use of critical thinking skills in reading and language arts instruction, reading improvement. ProQuest Education Journals, 46 (1),  29.
Meyers, C. (1986). Teaching students to think critically: A guide for faculty in all disciplines. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Milfort, R., & Greenfield, D. B. (2002). Teacher and observer ratings of head start children’s social skills. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 17(4), 581–595.
Moghadam, M., Shams Alizade, N., & Vafayi Bane, F. (2006). The effectiveness of teaching life skills on enhancing students’ awareness of skills for a selected sample of students in fourth grade of elementary schools in Sanandaj in 2004, Medical Journal of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, 28 (2), 103-7.
Muhammadi, A. (1999). The effectiveness of teaching critical thinking based on Richard Paul model on enhancing male students’ critical thinking skills of social studies first grade of high school in Tehran. (Unpublished Master’s thesis).  University of Tehran, Tehran.
Pentz, M. (1980). Assertion training and trainer effects on unassertive adolescents. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 27(1), 76-83.
Ranjbar, H., & Esmaili, H. (2006). The effect of collaborative learning on critical thinking of nursing and midwifery students. Scientific Journal of Hamedan Nursing and Midwifery Faculty, 14 (1), 17-27.
Santiprasitkul, S., Sithivong, K., & Polnueangma, O. (2013). The first year nursing students’ achievement and critical thinking in local wisdom course using problem based learning process. Wireless Personal Communications, 69(3), 1077–1085. 10.1007/s11277-013-1067-2
Scharf, E. M., & Baldwin, L. P. (2007). Assessing multiple choice question (MCQ) tests - a mathematical perspective. Active Learning in Higher Education, 8(1), 31–47. 146978740 707 4009
Shabani, H. (2011). Advanced teaching method (teaching skills and thinking strategies). Tehran: SAMT.
Shafiyi, Sh., Khalili, H., & Mesgarayi, M. (2004). The assessment of critical thinking skills in nursing and Midwifery students of Zahedan. Teb Va Tazkiey, 53, 20-24.
Stylianides, G. J., Stylianides, A. J., & Shilling-Traina, L. N. (2013). Prospective teachers’ challenges in teaching reasoning-and-proving. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 11(6), 1463–1490.
Talebzade, M., Mosapour, N., & Hatami, F. (2009). The status of critical thinking in curriculum of high school. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 4 (13 & 14), 105-24. 
Tulbure, C. (2012). Learning styles, teaching strategies and academic achievement in higher education: A cross-sectional investigation. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 33, 398–402. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.01.151
Ulaş, A. H., Epçaçan, C., & Koçak, B. (2012). Assessment of the curriculum of Turkish language teaching in the 2nd grade of primary education in terms of critical thinking skills. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 369–375. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.12.069
Ward, A., Stoker, H. W., & Murray-Ward, M. (1996). Achievement and ability tests-definition of the domain. Educational Measurement, 2, 2–5, ISBN 978-0-7618-0385-0.
Xu, J. (2011). The application of critical thinking in teaching English reading. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 1(2). tpls.1.2.136-141
Zaman, A., Jumani, N., Alamgir, A., & Hussain, M. A. (2011). Predictive validity of scores in mathematics for reasoning ability in mathematics for grade 9 students in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa based on curriculum of mathematics. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 12, 588–594. j. sbspro.2011.02.072
Zhang, L. F. (2002). Thinking styles: Their relationships with modes of thinking and academic performance. Educational Psychology, 22(3), 331–348.