The Development of Critical Thinking Skills in Urban Preschoolers
Kathleen Corriveau

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Boston University

Primary Discipline

Human Development
Children are expected to engage in critical thinking by the time they enter kindergarten, yet developmental research exploring children’s critical thinking abilities at this age is mixed. Some research argues that critical thinking skills have not yet developed by kindergarten, whereas other research suggests that even preschoolers are capable of engaging in such thinking.One reason for the conflicting findings may be variability in the use of the adult to scaffold the learner. The proposed project aims to explore how adult explanations can aid in children’s ability to engage in critical thinking when playing a novel categorization game. Using a pre-post between-subjects design, this project will explore urban preschoolers’ critical thinking abilities with and without adult scaffolding. We aim to determine whether learned critical thinking strategies are retained after a 1-week delay, and whether or not individual differences in metacognitive understanding can be viewed as a mechanism for the development of critical thinking. Findings will have implications on sensitive interventions aimed at promoting critical thinking skills for preschool and kindergarten students.
About Kathleen Corriveau
Kathleen H. Corriveau is an Assistant Professor at Boston University, where she directs the Social Learning Laboratory. She received her ScB from Brown University, her MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and her EdD from Harvard University. Her research focuses on social and cognitive development in childhood, with a specific focus on how children decide what people and what information are trustworthy sources. Dr. Corriveau has written over 30 journal articles and book chapters in high-impact journals including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Psychological Science. She is the recipient of a Gates Fellowship, and holds early career awards from the Developmental Psychology and Educational Psychology divisions of the American Psychological Association. Her current work focuses on the role of social relationships in fostering school readiness skills, such as critical thinking.

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