Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Exploring intellectual character in selected classrooms
    Abbott, Colleen ( 2005)
    This study describes what a group of selected teachers and students understand about productive intellectual behaviour and the six thinking dispositions described by Ritchhart (2001;2002) as the theory of intellectual character. A qualitative approach has been adopted to explore the perspective of students and teachers through semi structured interviews and classroom observations over a nine month period. Teacher participants had a variety of professional experience and came from Primary and Secondary campuses of two schools, while the students were drawn from two different kinds of classroom settings taught by one of the participating teachers. They were all involved in The Ithaka Project, a large school-based project, in which teachers examine their classroom practice through the lens of the thinking dispositions described in Ron Ritchhart's theoretical framework (2001), and conversely, explore the theory in light of their experience. The findings demonstrate that the theory of intellectual character provides teachers with additional insights into the dynamics of productive intelligent behaviour. The complex relationships among and between the dispositions is established, and there is exploration of the ways in which the dispositions appear to be different in different contexts and at different stages of schooling. Importantly, the findings acknowledge the impact of social and emotional factors on thinking and learning. The thesis claims that classroom cultures which support dispositional thinking are characterized by - engagement with rich subject matter, the use of salient models of thinking as well as the shared experience of the language of thinking. In conclusion, the thesis suggests the need for further school based research which emphasizes the voices of teachers and students from a range of school contexts. It recommends ongoing action research which focusses on the interaction of theory and practice. It also recommends further research which investigates the development of classroom culture that supports the growth of thinking dispositions and productive intelligent behaviour.