Formal reasoning performance of higher secondary school students: Theoretical and educational implications
SourceEuropean Journal of Psychology of Education
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The study investigated the structure and development of formal thought among tenth-, eleventh-, and twelfth-grade students. The subjects of the study were the total numbers of students attending the science, the economic, and the other sections of two higher secondary schools. Students' performance on a standardized Test of Logical Thinking (TOLT) was used as a measure of their cognitive abilities related to control of variables, proportional, probabilistic, correlational, and combinatorial reasoning. Students attending the different sections of study had significantly different TOLT performance, older students exhibited significantly better TOLT performance than younger ones, and boys performed significantly better on TOLT than girls did. The "rate" of development was, however, different for different reasoning modes and differences in school achievement between boys and girls did not tap differences in TOLT performance. Regression analysis showed that section of study, gender, grade level, and measures of school achievement contributed significantly to the prediction of TOLT performance. Factor analysis of performance on the ten TOLT items (two items from each reasoning mode) produced a two- and three-factor solution for the sample of boys and the sample of girls, respectively. The results indicate that different theoretical perspectives should be considered when evaluating cognitive development and that learning environments conducive to cognitive growth need to be designed and implemented.