Developing Students’ Critical Thinking through Online Discussions: A Literature Review

Volume 7 - Issue 2
Soon Yen Foo Choon Lang Quek
Pages: 37-58 Download Count : 694 View Count: 1397 DOI Number 10.17220/mojet.2019.02.003 Facebook Share on Google+ Save to Zotero Save to Mendeley


Critical thinking (CT) is being recognized as an essential skill for students to master in the 21st century. Previous studies have suggested that teaching CT through asynchronous online discussions (AODs) can be one of the effective ways to equip students with such 21st skill in the educational settings. The purpose of this article is to review of the empirical literature related to the use of AOD forums for development of CT. Forty-seven articles published from 2000 to the present day are included in the review. The content of the individual study was analysed through the lens of revised Community of Inquiry framework in order to get an up-to-date understanding of the issues pertaining to using AODs as a method for developing CT. By drawing on the review of the existing literature, the research on how social presence could serve a critical role in affecting the development of students’ CT is relatively few as compared to teaching presence. Therefore, the dearth of empirical evidence needs more research to make the social presence more dominant in the future studies. This article closes with a discussion on current research gaps and possible areas for future research in this field of study.


  • critical thinking
  • asynchronous online discussions
  • literature review
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