Examining the Perception and Attitude of Undergraduate University Student towards the Understanding of Critical Thinking

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Published on International Journal of Teaching & Education
Publication Date: December, 2019

Ackah, James Yamekeh; Atianashie Miracle A. & Chukwuma Adaobi
Catholic University College of Ghana
Ghana

Journal Full Text PDF: Examining the Perception and Attitude of Undergraduate University Student towards the Understanding of Critical Thinking.

Abstract
This paper discusses the perception and attitude of undergraduate university students towards the understanding of critical thinking (CT), it also aims in examining students’ Barriers to Critical Thinking, perceiving techniques that Encourage Critical Thinking among undergraduate students, and Assessing students’ gender, age, the years they have spent in university, their perception of the importance of critical thinking, and their self-reported overall critical thinking ability. A sample of 433 undergraduate students from catholic University College of Ghana completed the survey. Findings have shown that their critical thinking ability ranged from low to moderate level, also students agreed to recommend critical thinking for others, whereas using Socratic questioning and naturalistic observation, critical thinking as perceived was regarded as a tool or a way of thinking outside the boss students optimusely agreed that critical thinking is of benefit to them. Furthermore, this paper aims to encourage students to become critical thinkers and to provide lecturers with the best approach to develop students’ critical thinking skills at tertiary level. Thus, strategies of teaching and learning which stresses on student-centered learning must be adopted to stimulate student’s thinking by encouraging critical and creative thinking and the construction of new knowledge. However, the data was collected through questionnaire, participant non participant observation, and classroom based activities namely debates, discussions, article analysis, problem-solving situations and case studies.

Keywords: Critical thinking, perception and attitude, academic disciplines, CUCG undergraduate, Problem Solving.

1. INTRODUCTION
Preliminary one of the unending debates in education investigation is whether students can learn to think critically through their own exploration or whether they need to be officially taught the skill as part of the academic curriculum. Sternberg and Williams (2002) noted that students may not need to be taught critical thinking as thinking is a natural process carried by everyone. But Duron, Limbach and Waugh (2006) argued that thinking is a natural process, but when left to itself, can often be biased, inaccurate, incomplete, uninformed and potentially intolerant; excellence in thought must be cultivated. Black (2005) also found that students are able to improve their thinking skills if they were taught how to think. Furthermore, Nickerson (1994) distinguished that students need to be taught how to think more effectively, that is more critically, coherently, and creatively. For example, teachers could provide students with the criteria for judging information and taught the terms and strategies used for critical thinking in classrooms (Black, 2005). Consequently, while students have a natural ability to think critically, it is important for teachers to guide them and make the subject absorbed in order to refine their skills.
The queries are can our university students essentially become good critical thinkers? Or are they merely regurgitating facts, recycling ideas and passive recipients of knowledge? The pressure and over-reliance to get good grades have aggravated the situation as students become rote learners, merely accepting what is being fed to them, seeing their lecturers or teachers as disseminators of knowledge that should not be questioned. They are churned to become followers and having a limited worldview due to the exam-oriented system that puts academic achievement at a pedestal. This has incapacitated their capability to vocalize their thoughts confidently and to think from different perspectives thus reducing their employability in the eyes of prospective employers in Ghana. (Catholic University College of Ghana, 2012). Thus, our future graduates are often compared with young professionals from abroad as they are more advanced in critical thinking, more innovative, display a more global mindset and show understanding of the moving trends in the world.
Critical thinking refers to an ability to analyze information, to determine the relevance of information gathered and then to interpret it in solving the problems (Gagné, 1988). It requires high-level thinking; involves the process of analysis, evaluation, reasonableness and reflection (Jeevanantham, 2005). As future human capital, university students need to equip themselves with critical thinking course and problem-solving skill as this is the focus of employers in hiring new people. Unfortunately,past studies; systematic review and news, hasreported that most university graduates in Ghana are still lacking these important skills. For example, a survey by ManpowerGroup (2012) found that employers are not satisfied with graduates’ problem-solving skills and their ability to deal with ambiguity or complexity.Contemporarily, the Dean of Students Affairs of Catholic University College of Ghana, Fr, Dr. Ackah, james yamekeh, claimed that graduates are lacking with communication skills and problem-solving skills. If this issue or problem is not addressed, an implication would be an increase in number of unemployed graduates in the future. We can clearly see that this future is not so long within our grasp as we are faced with associations that are arising gradually because of this unemployment issues. Most at times the problem is not the graduates but the kind of information that they have been fed with during their training or schooling period. If employers claim that graduates produced nowadays are not quality decision makers, or more effectually are unable to critically analyze situations that they are faced with then institutions of training and schooling has a question to answer.
According to Othman, Mohd Salleh, al-Edrus and Sulaiman (2008), students learning context is one of the factors that contributes to generic skills deficiency, particularly towards critical thinking and problem-solving skill. For example, teaching and learning process in the classroom which emphasize on rote learning and too focused on the content cause students to memorize the knowledge learned, rather than to analyze and synthesize the exact meaning of the knowledge. Since they do not have deep understanding regarding the knowledge learned, it leads to the reductionof the student’s ability to think critically as well as to solve complicated problems (Shakir, 2009). Other than students learning context, Pumphrey and Slater (2002) claimed that technology advancement is also a factor that causes development of critical thinking and problem-solving skill being less efficient in most of the universities in Ghana. With the technology advancement, students can get access to all the information through internet, which then causes negative effect as they simply adopt the information without analyzing, interpreting and thinking critically about the information, and students who offers this course at the university tend to pay less attention to it with a perception of innards ambiguity and haziness (Purcell, et al., 2012). This also hinder their ability to solve problems because internet offers most of the solutions, the indispensable facts is that critical thinking countersign social studies and humanities students and providing a corrective and diagnostics skills set that enables students to discriminate logically and applying standers, logical reasoning, information seeking, predicting reminiscences, and transforming knowledge. Perhaps to maintain and produce professionalism, scholarly graduate from all Ghana university as a whole, critical thinking subjects and courses should further be recommended and advance to aid students think reasonably, make quality decisions and deeply to yield knowledge that can help contribute and solve problems arising in our societies; the positions we occupy in our jobs; and all the places we shall find ourselves.
However, this study sets out to explore university students’ perceptions of their critical thinking after completing the university program. To the best of this investigator’s knowledge, research conducted in many higher education contexts has approached the issue from a narrower perspective, concentrating mainly on argumentation and reasoning, with no study focusing on students’ critical thinking in the broad sense. It is hoped that this study will not only provide a starting point for further research, but can help improve students’ critical thinking by addressing the possible gap between expected learning outcomes and instructional practices. This empirical research consists of a questionnaire survey, based on Facione’s (2013) model of critical thinking skills and dispositions, which explored students’ self-rated critical thinking abilities. A dominant-less dominant mixed-methods research design is used, which allows the researcher to investigate the complex concept of critical thinking with both quantitative and qualitative methods (Behar-Horenstein & Niu, 2011).

1.1 PROBLEM STATEMENT
Critical thinking (CT) is one of the top demanded skills employers look for in job applicants, but are colleges, polytechnics and universities doing enough to help students develop these skills? Fifty-nine percent of surveyed adults ages 18-31 who attended a college, polytechnics or university say they are very confidents in their soft skills, including critical thinking but whereas that same survey also shows a decrease in that groups ability to distinguished between false and factual information. The second annual state of critical thinking survey from mind edge asks respondents to complete a brief quiz requiring them to use digital literacy and critical thinking skills. In 2018, respondents score lower on every question compared to 2017, and 52 percent of this year respondents receives a falling grade.
Despite the many initiatives and concerted efforts by the Ghana Ministry of Education to embed and infuse critical thinking skills in the syllabi and courses in all levels of education, students are still lacking in this soft skill. A study on the state of critical thinking among Ghana universities students revealed that after eleven years of schooling, students are still unable to apply critical thinking in their schools or real-world situation (Rosnah and Suhailah, 2003: Konting et.al, 2007 as cited in Ibrahim, Kamariah, Nor Hayati & Othman, 2013). This is further reiterated in a large-scale study by Aliah Suraya Mohd Yunus et.al (2005, as cited in Rosyati & Rosnah, 2008) to determine the critical thinking ability and skills of undergraduates from seven public universities. It was found that the critical thinking ability of these undergraduates was at a low moderate level. Another study by Nuraihan and Zamnah (20015) on Ghana and international students from catholic service University kumasi Ghana also indicates the critical thinking ability of Ghanaians undergraduates was comparatively low compared to their international counterparts.
What is more disquieting is that employers have articulated their dissatisfaction towards the capability of our local graduates to think outside of the box apart from having a good English knowledge as asserted by a manager from Manpower Staffing Services (M) Sdn Bhd, Sam Haggag. the Critical thinking skills is a skill that can be taught and refined with the right methodology and proper guidance by lecturers or teachers to their students although students themselves do have a natural ability to think critically (Choy & Phaik, 2009). Henceforth, lecturers should look into their teaching approaches and practices in the classroom to ensure they are exercising and cultivating critical thinking with their students regardless of the subjects they are teaching be it language, philosophy or office administration. Most often the case, teachers frequently see the classroom as “communication-centered’ or ‘grammar-focused and should be dominated by ‘teacher talk’ which does not create an environment for students to be independent and active learners. The traditional, monotonous lecture routine should be broken down whereby activities which focuses more on student- centered activities with the infusion of CTS should be highly incorporated in the lessons. Rote-learning and memorization should also be discarded and more emphasis given on active learning which allows students to take a center-stage in learning, decide the best way to learn and for lecturers to implement activities which requires them to develop their thinking skills and ability to look at ideas or views from different angles.

1.2 PURPOSE OF STUDIES
The study aims to focus on the perception and attitude of undergraduate university students towards the understanding of critical thinking

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF STUDIES
• To Understand the perception and attitude on how students view critical thinking and to identify activities that contributed to their critical thinking development.
• To examining students’ Barriers to Critical Thinking
• To examining the role of critical thinking dispositions among university undergraduate students.
• To perceived techniques that Encourage Critical Thinking among undergraduate students.
• Assessing students’ gender, age, the years they have spent in university, their perception of the importance of critical thinking, and their self-reported overall critical thinking ability.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
• What is the role of critical thinking dispositions among undergraduate university students?
• How can we perceive techniques that Encourage Critical Thinking among undergraduate students.?
• What is the perception and attitude on how students view critical thinking and what activities contributed to the development of critical thinking on students?
• How is students’ gender, age, the years they have spent in university, their perception of the importance of critical thinking, and their self-reported overall critical thinking ability evaluate?
• What Barriers affect students critical thinking?

2. LITERATURE REVIEW
Historical Background and Hypothetical Prospective
Over the year’s maximum researchers and writers have had something to say about students unindustrialized quality in critical thinking skills. Most of their books, journals, articles, and write ups mainly focus on the teaching and learning processes of the lecturer and student respectively. In Shazaitul Azreen Rodzalana*, Maisarah Mohamed Saatb, research study of “The Perception of Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skill among Malaysian Undergraduate Students”, he particularizes that when it comes to student’s thinking abilities and development, the study implements Haller, Fisher and Gapp’s model (2007, see fig.1), which is the main focus in learning and teaching context. the model suggests that students engaged with learning process through repetitive activities, memorizing, understanding and reflecting. All of these progressions require them to think in order to achieve effective learning outcomes and thereby enhance problem solving skill. Yet, the order of thinking differs at each stage. For example, reflecting stage requires higher order thinking (critical thinking) as compared to repetitive or memorizing stage. There are factors which may influence students’ thinking process. These factors are teacher; student relationship; collective or collaborative studying, deep approach and transformational learning. In the context of this study, lecturer plays main role in providing clear instructions and conducting interesting activities in the class because it influences students’ thinking process. The lecturer should emphasize in giving students with challenging tasks that require them to think critically, instead of converging in rote learning (Schafersman, 1991). Moving from repetitive activities or memorizing into understanding stage, students may affect with the second factor, which is collective or collaborative studying. By working collaboratively, students will experience the progression of analyzing the problems and express their ideas to other team members (Forgarty & McTighe, 1993) which later enhance their understanding of knowledge learned. At this understanding stage, students will attempt to make sagacity of the knowledge learned through deep approach to learn. Students who integrate with this approach have pledge to understand the knowledge, and thereby reflected in using variety of methods. As mentioned by Colley, Bilics & Lerch (2012), reflection process is one of essential elements in critical thinking. Reflection requires one’s thought in making inferences, analogies, evaluations and explore deep understanding regarding the specific knowledge, and these relate to problem solving (Kitchenham, 2008). The outcome of reflecting process then results in the transformational learning (depicted as fourth factor in model of Figure1) as it influences the whole learning process. In short, transformative learning requires students to have broader view based on their past experience through critical reflection process.
The lecture presentation or setup of learning is a prevalent approach to contented delivery in higher education. However, it frequently does not encourage active learning or critical thinking on the part of students. Those new to the teaching profession often adopt the lecture format because it is both teacher-centered and comes with a strong academic tradition. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to increase a student’s critical thinking skills with the lecture format. Topics are discussed sequentially rather than critically, and students tend to memorize the material since the lecture method facilitates the delivery of large amounts of information. The student is placed in a passive rather than an active role since the teacher does the talking, the questioning, and, thus, most of the thinking (Maiorana, 1991). To link critical thinking skills to content, the instructional focus should be on the process of learning. How will the students get the information? Investigation supports the premise that lecture and memorization do not lead to long-term knowledge or the ability to apply that knowledge to new situations (Celuch & Slama, 1999; Daz-Iefebvre, 2004; Kang & Howren, 2004). Traditional instructional methods use too many facts and not enough conceptualization; too much memorizing and not enough thinking. Therefore, lecture and rote memorization do not promote critical thinking at all.
Plentiful studies look into critical thinking and problem-solving skill with regards to gender differences and academic disciplines (Aliakbari & Sadeghdaghighi, 2011; Kathiravelu, Tapsir, & Osman, 2004; Leach & Good, 2011; Sacli & Demirhan, 2011). However, results of these studies have been mixed. Aliakbari & Sadeghdaghighi (2011), for example, surveyed 84 university students regarding their critical thinking skill and found male students gain more critical thinking skill compare to female students. Consistently, male students also being reported to score high mean on five dimensions (analysis, induction, deduction, evaluation and inference) of critical thinking than female counterparts (Leach & Good, 2011). In the Malaysian setting, Kathiravelu, et al. (2004) found dissimilarity finding, where female students performed better in critical thinking. Despite of differences between gender, Sacli and Demirhan (2011) discover there is no modifications between genders towards critical thinking skill. In inclusive, findings from past studies suggested that male students think critically in solving problems than female students. This data also proves that more males tend to have greater interest in critical thinking courses than females.

3. Methodology
Introduction
This section brings to the fore the methodology employed in the research for the analysis. The chapter comprise mainly of research design, population of the study, sampling and sampling technique, hypothesis testing, method of data collection, sources of data, data collection instruments, and methods of data.

Research Design
As this study seeks to examine the perception and attitude of undergraduate university students towards the understanding of critical thinking (CT), a descriptive survey was employed in this study. creswell (2003) defines descriptive survey as a method of collecting data for the purpose of testing hypothesis or answering research questions concerning the current status of the subjects under study.
In the opinion of Cohen and Marion (1999) descriptive survey is a design used to gather data at a particular point in time with the intention of describing the nature of existing conditions or identifying standards against which existing conditions can be compared or determining the relationship that exist between events. Thus, a descriptive study is undertaken in order to ascertain and be able to describe the characteristics of the variables of interest in a situation.
This is done through the use of strategies and procedures to describe, clarify and interpret existing variables that constitute a phenomenon. This study adopted the descriptive design because it has the advantage of producing a good amount of responses from students of Catholic University College of Ghana.

Sources of Data
Data for the study was collected from both primary and secondary sources. The administration of questionnaires and interview guide form the basis for primary data. Data collected from this source was centered on the background characteristics of respondents and issues concerning the student’s attitudes and Perception at Catholic University College of Ghana. The advantage of the primary sources of data is that they are more reliable since they come from original sources and are collected for the study.

Population of the Study
The population of the study in the opinion of Agyedu, Donkor and Obeng (1999), refers to a complete set of individuals (subjects), objects or events having common observable characteristics in which the researcher is interested. The target population of a study constitutes the group of persons, objects or institutions that defines the objects of the investigation (Patton, 2002). The target population of the study is Catholic University College of Ghana. The population for the study were made up of the undergraduate students of Catholic University College of Ghana.

Sampling and Sampling technique
Due to the limited time frame of the research, the entire students of Catholic University College of Ghana could not be used for the study. Hence, a sample of 150 was chosen for the study. Out of the 150 people sampled, 5 were made up of the critical thinking lectures of Catholic University College of Ghana whereas 145 were the students of Catholic University College of Ghana. With reference to the sampling technique employed, a convenience purposive sampling technique was used to choose 5 critical thinking lectures while a simple random sampling was employed in choosing 145 students to represent the population of interest.

Research Instrument
Questionnaire administration and interview guide were the research instruments used by the researcher to collect data from the respondents. In all a total of 433questionnaires and 5 interview guides were designed and administered. The self-administered interview was employed to collect data from students of Catholic University College of Ghana. In the same way, the interviewer guided the students to fill their questionnaires. These were modified to suit the goal of the present study. The questionnaire comprised a mix of open-ended and close ended questions. With respect to questions that require a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, the instrument provided an opportunity for respondents to explain the response they chose. The questionnaire elicits responses on issues regarding respondents’ background characteristics and issues regarding student’s perception and attitude towards critical thinking subjects at the university.

Method of Data Analysis
The following steps were taken to analyze the data for the study. The data was edited to detect and correct, possible errors and omissions that are likely to occur, to ensure consistency across respondents. Data collected from the field was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Software was employed to process and analyses the instruments. Frequencies, percentages, proportions, charts and diagrams were used to present the results.

Ethical Issues
Almost all the service industry in Ghana have strict policy on confidentiality and one can pay the ultimate price for the breach of this duty of confidentiality. Divulging of information by students to a third party can expose the institution to potential legal tussle and therefore being mindful of this ethical issue, the respondents were sometimes apprehensive in the disclosure of information. This genuine apprehension was addressed by first explaining the essence of the study to the respondents and also with the assurance that the data will be handled professionally and that their identities are not going to be revealed. The confidentiality of the information collected from interviewees was preserved by ensuring that their names and other information that could bring out their identities were not disclosed in the data collected.
They were also made to understand their role in the data collection activity to find answers to the research questions. To avoid imposing the interviews on respondents, they were given the choice to opt out if the interview would affect them in any way or if for some reasons they were not comfortable in participating in the study. The methods and procedures explained above were used in seeking the needed data for the analysis which are captured in the next chapter.
The researcher ensured that data collected for this study are not fabricated, falsified or misrepresented to ensure that, data is reliable and accurate. The study also respected intellectual property by referencing and acknowledging all authors whose materials and works were included in this study, Ticehurst, (2000).

4. Analysis
Validity and Reliability
Peppers (2002) states that validity and reliability are two features which any quantitative researcher should focus on while designing a study, analyzing the results and judging the quality of the study. According to Peppers (2002) in a research work, all the rights things must be measured. Care should be taken such that, the appropriate item is measured (validity); in addition, careful attention should be paid to how the measurement is being made (reliability). This study therefore took into consideration these two key factors during the course of the research.

TABLE 1: Respondent’s Demography
Table 1 reports the distribution of respondents’ demographic related to gender, age, races and academic disciplines. From a total of 433 students who involved in the survey, 193 were male students (44.57%) while 240 students were female students (55.43%). Students between the age of 19 to 24 (36.72%) dominate the sample and the rest were between the age of 24 and above (63.28%). With the respect of races, more than half of the respondents were Ghanaians (42.03%), followed by Nigerians respondents (35.57%) and the remaining are Cote de voire, Togo etc., others races contributed to 12.93% and 9.47% respectively. The distribution of respondents in regards to academic discipline appears that Economic and Business Administration (EBA) 86 respondents accounted for 19.86%, information and communication science and technology (ICST) account for 6%. Religion studies (RS)account for 0.92%, Education (EDU)account for 12.93%, 60.28% were Public health and allied science (PHAS).

STUDENTS DEMOGRAPHY NUMBERS %
Gender
Male 193 44.57%
Female 240 55.43%
Age
19 – 23 159 36.72%
24 and above 274 63.28%
Race
Ghana 182 42.03%
Nigeria 154 35.57%
Cote de voire 41 9.47%
Others 56 12.93%
Academic Disciplines
Economic and Business Administration (EBA) 86 19.86%
Information and communication science and technology (ICST) 26 6%
Religion studies (RS) 4 0.92%
Education (EDU) 56 12.93%
Public health and allied science (PHAS) 261 60.28%

01. Perception and attitude of critical thinking and problem solving skill
Table2. Computed means for statements of critical thinking attitude, perceptions and problem solving skill
The following analysis was to report students’ perception, attitude regarding critical thinking and problem solving skill by computing mean score for each statement (refer Table 2). Overall, mean score for each statement reports above 3.00 this situation may demonstrate that students agreed that critical thinking should be a composer course. Briefly, students highly agreed that they analyzed other people’s ideas objectively, by evaluating both advantages and disadvantages as this statement shows the highest mean score of 4.35. The second highest mean score (4.30) appears that students agreed that critical thinking improve their academic, moral, and social life. Perhaps, these creative and evaluation abilities learnt in the classroom lead them to agree with the statement of able to integrate ideas and techniques into new concept and precept(4.21), students agreed to recommend critical for others (4.16) students perceived to approach new project in analytical way and rewrite others people ideals using their own words (4.13). Although all statements report means score above 3.00, which indicate high level of skill, but students slightly agreed to make critical discrimination between alternatives (4.08) and take an independent and innovative look at most situations (4.07). In other words, students may require assistance from the lecturers in solving problems as they still in learning process to developed their inquisitiveness to learn. On the other hand, students less agreed with the statement of able to find the argument in denying unsound propositions (3.89). This situation may demonstrate that students are lack of understanding regarding topic learnt in the classroom since they unable to differentiate between valid and invalid facts. Lastly, students expressed that feelings have influenced on their attitude, perceptions and judgment when given difficult task with limited time and unfamiliar people as the mean score is the lowest (3.79). (4.10) present 92 student’sassertion that critical thinking makes them analytical and give them the view about life, in learning new things. However, display or output statements of 178 students that critical thinking is a boring course as the mean score is the lowest (2.96)

Statements Mean SD Difference
In carrying out my day-to-day work, I tend to see pattern in solving problems where others would see items as unconnected. 3.00 -6.33 40.0689
In carrying out my day-to-day work, I see critical thinking as a way of thinking outside the box. 4.35. 1.02 1.0404
Critical thinking improves my academic, moral, and social life. Perhaps, these creative and evaluation abilities learnt in the classroom lead me to agree with the statement of able to integrate ideas and techniques into new concept and precept. 4.30 0.97 0.9409
Students agreed to recommend critical for others 4.21 0.88 0.7744
I take considerable amount of time to make judgement but most often, the judgement made is accurate. 4.16 0.83 0.6889
Ability to Distinguish between main ideas and sub ideas 4.13 0.8 0.64
What does critical thinking mean to you 3.00 -0.33 0.1089
critical thinking is a boring course 4.08 0.75 0.5625
Proficiency to Rewrite other people’s ideas using your own words 4.09 0.76 0.5776
Ability to Understand other people’s ideas before presenting your own 3.89 0.56 0.3136
Propensity to Understanding your own or someone else’s ideas 3.79 0.46 0.2116
Ability to anticipate potential difficulties in solving problems 2.96 -0.37 0.1369
Sum of Diff = 46.0646
Variance = 5.187690909
Standard deviation = 2.046384839

Count 12 Statement (How many statements)
Sum 39.90 (All statements added up)
Mean 3.33 (Arithmetic mean =sum/count).

02. Differences in gender on critical thinking and problem solving skill
Table 3. Compare means between gender on critical thinking and problem solving skill
Table 3 reports that there are no significant differences between male and female on this skill except for three statements (Statements 3, 9 and 11). In Statement 3, it shows that male students (significant at p<0.05) are abler to take an independent and innovative look at most situations than female students. As expected, male students (t=2.420, p<0.05) have high agreement that feelings seldom undermine their judgement when given to work with limited time and unfamiliar people, compared to female students. Finally, there is a significant differences of Statement 11, where it demonstrates that male students (t=2.268, p<0.05) take longer time than female in making accurate judgement. In overall, the findings of mean differences between genders suggest that male students are more critical thinker and competent problem solver than female students, which similar with the prior study by Leach &Good (2011) and Aliakbari and Saghedi (2011). Statements Male Female t Sig In carrying out my day-to-day work, I tend to see pattern in solving problems where others would see items as unconnected. 4.31 4.33 287 .100 In carrying out my day-to-day work, I see critical thinking as a way of thinking outside the box. 4.19 4.16 125 .162 Critical thinking improves my academic, moral, and social life. Perhaps, these creative and evaluation abilities learnt in the classroom lead me to agree with the statement of able to integrate ideas and techniques into new concept and precept. 4.14 4.03 252 .0400* students agreed to recommend critical for others 4.34 4.20 147 .83 I take considerable amount of time to make judgement but most often, the judgement made is accurate. 4.37 4.31 65 .57 Ability to Distinguish between main ideas and sub ideas 4.76 4.05 1.60 .133 What does critical thinking mean to you 4.33 4.28 1.063 .288 critical thinking is a boring course 3.96 3.87 1.89 .059 Proficiency to Rewrite other people’s ideas using your own words 3.89 3.75 2.43 .016* Ability to Understand other people’s ideas before presenting your own 4.17 4.10 1.47 .111 Propensity to Understanding your own or someone else’s ideas 4.18 4.03 206 .021* Ability to anticipate potential difficulties in solving problems 4.10 ** Significant at the 1.11 level (2-tailed); * Significant at the 0.16 level (2-tailed) 03. Differences in academic discipline on critical thinking and problem solving skill Table 4. ANOVA table between academic discipline and critical thinking and problem solving skill Table 4 presents the ANOVA outcomes which show that there are variations in academic discipline and critical thinking (CT) and problem deciphering skill. All assertions reported to have highly significant differences (p=.000) between academic castigations or chastisements. A Bonferroni pos hoc test was run in order to further examine the differences in these statements. The test shows that there are significant differences between Public Health and Allied Science, Information Communication Science and Technology, Economic and Business Administration and Religion Studies. This may be due to the divergence of these academics disciplines which known as critical and tough program. Frequency distribution ANOVA Bonferroni post hoc test In carrying out my day-to-day work, I tend to see pattern in solving problems where others would see items as unconnected. In carrying out my day-to-day work, I see critical thinking as a way of thinking outside the box. Critical thinking improves my academic, moral, and social life. Perhaps, these creative and evaluation abilities learnt in the classroom lead me to agree with the statement of able to integrate ideas and techniques into new concept and precept. Do you think critical thinking should be a composer course? The results regarding whether critical thinking should be a composer course or not revealed that 55% of participants strongly agreed, that critical thinking should be a composer course, 76% also agreed and 30% disagreed that critical thinking should not be a composer course. Whereas 7% participants were impartial and no one strongly disagreed with this statement.Do you think critical thinking should be a compulsory course? How important is critical thinking to you? The results regarding How important is critical thinking to you revealed that 49% of participants says very important, why, 56% says important and 10% disagreed not important. will you recommend critical thinking for others? The results of the survey suggested that most of the respondents agreed that the will recommend critical thinking for others (79% participants answered yes). However, 21% participants responded that the will not recommend critical thinking for others. Do you like critical thinking? The results of the survey suggested that most of the respondents agreed that the like critical thinking (53% participants answered yes). However, 34% participants responded that the do not like critical thinking. is critical thinking a boring course? The results of the survey suggested that most of the respondents agreed that critical thinking is a boring course (27% participants answered yes). However, 65% participants responded No critical thinking is not a boring course. 5. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS This section presents the rulings of the survey that was carried out. We sought to understand the wide-ranging perception of students about CT by analyzing the various responses of the individuals that took part in the research studies. SPSS was used in the analyses of the data to help us identify the average of the entire participants and their perceptions or view about the course. Also the activities that were carried outside the period of the course which includes the social; academic; moral; and emotional aspects of their lives were analyzed to see if it contributed to the development of the CT skills of the people. In examine out the efficacy of CT in the lives of the students, the various aims were simplified and broken down into Barriers to Critical Thinking, Techniques that Encourage Critical Thinking among undergraduate students their progressive Activities that influence CT and gender, age, program of study, and the number of years they have spent in the institution. 1. Techniques that Encourage Critical Thinking among undergraduate students: Active learning can make the course more enjoyable for both teachers and students, and, most importantly, it can cause students to think critically. For this to happen, educators must give up the belief that students cannot learn the subject at hand unless the teacher covers it. While it is useful for students to gain some exposure to the material through pre-class readings and overview lectures, students really do not understand it until they actively do something with it and reflect on the meaning of what they are doing. There have been many definitions of critical thinking over the years. Norris (1985) posited that critical thinking is deciding rationally what to or what not to believe. Elder and Paul (1994) suggested that critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. Harris and Hodges (1995) stated critical evaluation as the process of arriving at a judgment about the value or impact of a text by examining its quality. The taxonomy offered by Benjamin Bloom some 50 years ago offers a straightforward way to classify instructional activities as they advance in difficulty (Bloom, 1956). The lower levels require less thinking skills while the higher levels require more. The theory of critical thinking began primarily with the works of Bloom (1956), who identified six levels within the cognitive domain, each of which related to a different levels of cognitive ability. Knowledge focused on remembering and reciting information. Comprehension focused on relating and organizing previously learned information. Application focused on applying information according to a rule or principle in a specific situation. Analysis was defined as critical thinking focused on parts and their functionality in the whole. Synthesis was defined as critical thinking focused on putting parts together to form a new and original whole. Evaluation was defined as critical thinking focused upon valuing and making judgments based upon information. 2. Perception and attitude towards CT Impending or approaching from a very unadventurousattitude you could say that students enjoy CT. Findings revealed that students perceived themselves highly critical thinking and displayed a high sense of problem deciphering skill as they agreed with the statement of evaluating both vantages and liabilities when analyzing other people’s ideas. Most probably, one has been taught to evaluate pros and cons before making any decision or in disentangling a problem. They also have a creative approach and innovative look in solving problem. Furthermore, they agreed that they will be able to make accurate judgment when given sufficient time to think by making critical discrimination between alternatives. It shows that students understand and reflect what they have learned in lectures as these processes lead to higher order thinking capacity in solving the problems as depicted in the model of critical thinking and problem solving by Haller, et al. (2007). However, they stated that feelings have undermined their judgment when given a difficult task with limited time and unfamiliar people. In other words, the capability to make accurate judgment may drop when they feel uncomfortable to discuss with unfamiliar people, with the addition of time pressure which then lead to stress in work. As asserted by Storehouse, Hamill, Campbell and Purdie (2004), people who work together should share similar meaning on issues discussed in solving the problems. Moreover, Milliken and Martins (1996) claimed that the diversity (such as gender differences and different background) leads to affect cohesion in reaching any consensus concerning exertion. 3. Activities that influence CT Grounded on this finding, students need to be well prepared to work with different people and deal with unpredictability (such as time constraint) especially in real workforce. As this skill are important for future career, this study recommends that lecturers should provide clear instruction and conduct interesting activities in the class because it influence students’ thinking process. The lecturers also should emphasize in giving students with challenging tasks that require them to think critically, instead on focusing in rote learning (Schafersman, 1991). Furthermore, this study recommends that students need to focus in class by understanding the subject learnt so that they able to perform better in test and produce high quality of assignment. Other activities such as co-curriculum, training and camp related to critical thinking and problem disentangling skill should be endorsed to the students. Among recommendations is that university should ensure the courses and activities are effective and achieve the learning outcome. Findings of this study are significance to students, higher education practitioners (mostly lecturers), and higher learning institutions, mainly to public universities in Ghana 4. Barriers to Critical Thinking: Several researchers (Landsman & Gorski, 2007; Sandholtz, Ogawa, & Scribner, 2004; Sheldon & Biddle, 1998; Wong, 2007) suggest that the current educational trend to standardize curricula and focus on test scores undermines instructors’ ability to address critical thinking in the classroom. The emphasis on “teaching to the test” distracts the learning process from student-centered instruction and places the emphasis on the content. If the focus is on learning, students should be given the freedom to explore content, analyze resources, and apply information. Unfortunately, students are not typically taught to think or learn independently, and they rarely “pick up” these skills on their own (Ladsman & Gorski, 2007; Lundquist, 1999; Rippen, Booth, Bowie, & Jordan, 2002). Critical thinking is not an innate ability. Although some students may be naturally inquisitive, they require training to become systematically analytical, fair, and open-minded in their pursuit of knowledge. With these skills, students can become confident in their reasoning and apply their critical thinking ability to any content area or discipline (Lundquist, 1999). Critical thinking is often compared to the scientific method; it is a systematic and procedural approach to the process of thinking (Scriven & Paul, 2007). Just as students learn the process of the scientific method, they must also learn the process of critically thinking. Four barriers often impede the integration of critical thinking in education: namely, lack of training, lack of information, preconceptions, and time constraints. First, teachers often are not trained in critical thinking methodology (Broadbear, 2003). Elementary and secondary teachers know their content and receive training in the methods of instruction, but little if any of their training is devoted specifically to how to teach critical thinking skills. Postsecondary instructors pursue additional content-based instruction during graduate school, but often have no formal methodological training, much less skill-based instruction. Second, few instructional materials provide critical thinking resources (Scriven & Paul, 2007). Some textbooks provide chapter-based critical thinking discussion questions, but instructional materials often lack additional critical thinking resources. Third, both teachers and students have preconceptions about the content that blocks their ability to think critically about the material. Preconceptions such as personal bias partiality prohibits critical thinking because they obviate analytical skills such as being fair, open-minded, and inquisitive about a topic (Kang & Howren, 2004). Finally, time constraints are barriers to integrating critical thinking skills in the classroom. Instructors often have a great deal of content to cover within a short time period. When the focus is on content rather than student learning, shortcuts such as lectures and objective tests become the norm. Lecturing is faster and easier than integrating project-based learning opportunities. Objective tests are faster to take (and grade) than subjective assessments. However, research indicates that lecturing is not the best method of instruction, and objective tests are not the best method of assessment (Broadbear, 2003; Brodie & Irving, 2007). 5. Assessment in terms of age, gender, and program of study. Moreover, the study aims to normalize if there are any dissimilarities between genders and academic disciplines on this skill. In terms of gender differences, male students are more critical thinker and competent problem solver than female counterparts, which in contrast with the finding of study in Malaysian setting by Kathiravelu, et al. (2004). This could be explained by Herrmann (1996) as males often using their left brain dominance, which refer to logical and analytical thinking, whereas females incline to use right brain as their preferences to feelings and interpersonal based thinking. On the other hand, there are highly significant differences between social science and both science and engineering disciplines. The findings revealed that social science students performed better than the other two discipline which in contrast with the past studies (Aliakbari & Sadeghdaghighi, 2011; Mahdyeh & Arefi, 2014). Most probably ICST and science students only understand subject learnt during lecture, but do not reflect it when solving the problems as compared to social science students. However, the findings indicated that there is no significant difference between science and ICST disciplines. This may be due to the similarity of these two disciplines which known as tough and critical programs. Moreover, Milliken and Martins (1996) claimed that the diversity (such as gender differences and different background) leads to affect cohesion in reaching any unanimity regarding work. 6. CONCLUSION This study has achieved its objectives. Firstly, the study aims to investigate the perception of critical thinking from the students’ perspective. Finding revealed that students perceived themselves highly critical thinking and problem solving skill as they agreed with the statement of evaluating both advantages and disadvantages when analyzed other people’s ideas. Most probably, one’s has been taught to evaluate pro and cons before making decision in solving the problem. They also have a perception, creative approach and innovative look in solving problem. Furthermore, they agreed that they able to make accurate judgement with given sufficient time to think by making critical discrimination between alternatives. It shows that students understand and reflect what they have learned in classroom as these processes lead to higher order thinking in solving the problems as depicted in the model of critical thinking and problem solving by Haller, et al. (2007). However, they stated that feelings have undermined their judgement when given a difficult task with limited time and unfamiliar people. In other words, the capability to make accurate judgement may drop when they feel uncomfortable to discuss with unfamiliar people, with the addition of time pressure which then lead to stress in work. As asserted by Storehouse, Hamill, Campbell and Purdie (2004), people who work together should share similar meaning on issues discussed in solving the problems. Moreover, Milliken and Martins (1996) claimed that the diversity (such as student’s perception, attitude, gender differences and different background) leads to affect cohesion in reaching any consensus regarding work. Secondly, the study aims to identify student’s perception and attitude towards critical thinking, any differences between genders and academic disciplines on this skill. In terms of gender differences, male students are more critical thinker and competent problem solver than female counterparts, which in contrast with the finding of study in Malaysian setting by Kathiravelu, et al. (2004). This could be explained by Herrmann (1996) as males often using their left brain dominance, which refer to logical and analytical thinking, whereas females incline to use right brain as their preferences to feelings and interpersonal based thinking. Based on this finding, students need to be well prepared to work with different people and deal with unpredictability (such as time constraint) especially in real workforce. As this skill are important for future career, this study recommends that lecturers should provide clear instruction and conduct interesting activities in the class because it influence students’ thinking process. The lecturers also should emphasize in giving students with challenging tasks that require them to think critically, instead on focusing in rote learning (Schafersman, 1991). Furthermore, this study recommends that students need to focus in class by understanding the subject learnt so that they perception and attitude can be positive and able to perform better in test and produce high quality of assignment. Other activities such as co-curriculum, training and camp related to critical thinking and problem solving skill should be promoted to the students. Among recommendations is that university should ensure the courses and activities are effective and achieve the learning outcome. Findings and objective of this study are significance to students, higher education practitioners (mostly lecturers), and higher learning institutions, mainly to Catholic University College of Ghana. Firstly, the objectives and findings of this study indicates to what extent student’s perception and attitude are been perceived about critical thinking and problem solving skill that be implemented in the classroom. Secondly, higher education practitioners may improve method in facilitating the development of these skill, like conducting brainstorming session. At the same time, higher learning institutions able to identify if any loopholes within the integration of this skill in the undergraduate syllabus. In addition, the findings also make an important contribution to the body of knowledge regarding critical thinking, primarily in Ghana and subordinate in Catholic University College of Ghana context. 7. RECOMMENDATIONS To enable students to think critically, teachers must be critical thinkers themselves. Yet, teachers may presume their job is only to provide students with content information, without understanding the importance of facilitating experiences for students to develop and improve their thinking. By preparing positive classroom climates that include inquiry and problem solving processes, students will be motivated to maximize their learning and experience to enhance their critical and reflective abilities. Lecturers themselves must constantly upgrade their knowledge and be clear of the meaning of critical thinking to be able to teach critical thinking to students. Students should display more readiness to class by doing their own reading as a preparation of the chapter that the lecturer will be covering for the next lesson. It would be helpful if lecturers provide students with an outline of the chapters or topics that will be taught. Therefore, students should be trained to become independent learners and to do their own research outside of the classroom to gain a better comprehension of the subject. Lecturers on the other hand could prepare guided questions for the students to direct them to the subject that will be taught. For this reason, background knowledge is essential if students are to demonstrate their critical thinking skills feasibly, to think critically, students need something to think critically about. On the other hand, the questioning technique is regarded as the most effective strategy to enhance one’s critical thinking skills. Socratic questioning(is a form of disciplined questioning that can be used to pursue thought in many direction and for many purposes: to explore complex ideas, to get the truth of things, to open up issues and problem, to uncover assumptions. etc.) is one of the ways to initiate two-way communication in the classroom. Lecturers must know how to construct their questions to lead students to think critically whilst students should be encouraged to ask questions in class. This is because questioning strategies encourage students to be active in classroom activities and to deepen their understanding (Weast, 1996, as cited in nor Lisa Sulaiman, 2012).Most importantly, students should be guided in completing a task given to increase their critical thinking ability and the use of visual aids to guide this process. This is to ensure that aside from inculcating critical thinking in the lesson, students enjoy the overall learning process. Only then, their critical thinking skills can be enhanced positively. 8. Bibliography • Othman, H., Salleh, B. M., al-Edrus, S. M. D., & Sulaiman, A. (2008). Perlaksanaan Pendekatan Pembelajaran Berasaskan Pengalaman (PBL Dan POPBL) bagi Meningkatkan Kemahiran Insaniah Pelajar. • Case, R. (2005). Bringing critical thinking to the main stage. 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