Thinking Skills and Creativity

j ourna l h o mepa ge: h t tp : / /www.e lsev ier .com/ locate / tsc

o what extent do culture-related factors influence niversity students’ critical thinking use?�

mmanuel Manaloa,∗, Takashi Kusumib, Masuo Koyasub, asushi Michitac, Yuko Tanakad

Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan Research Organization of Information and Systems, Tokyo, Japan

a r t i c l e i n f o

rticle history: eceived 2 July 2012 eceived in revised form 14 July 2013 ccepted 26 August 2013 vailable online 5 September 2013

eywords: ritical thinking ultural influences niversity students elf-construal elf-regulatory modes

a b s t r a c t

This study sought to elucidate some aspects of the relationship between culture and crit- ical thinking by examining whether a number of culture-related factors might relate to university students’ reported use of critical thinking. The participants were 363 under- graduate university students from Kyoto and Okinawa in Japan, and Auckland in New Zealand. They completed a questionnaire that assessed critical thinking use and the following factors: study self-efficacy, regulatory mode (assessment/locomotion), and self- construal (independence/interdependence). Critical thinking use was found to correlate with study self-efficacy, locomotion, assessment, and independent self-construal. The Auckland students scored higher than both Japanese student groups in those factors, except for assessment (in which the groups did not differ). In contrast, the Okinawa students scored higher than the other two groups in interdependent self-construal. No differences were found between the groups on reported critical thinking use. A model, which produced an acceptable fit to the data, is proposed in which self-construal influences regulatory mode and study self-efficacy, and these in turn influence critical thinking. Together, these findings suggest that culture-related factors (self-construal, regulatory mode, self-efficacy) do influ- ence students’ critical thinking use, but that differences in those factors need not necessarily equate to locational group differences in critical thinking use.

© 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

. Introduction

Critical thinking can be defined as “skilled and active interpretation and evaluation of observations and communications, nformation and argumentation” (Fisher & Scriven, 1997, p. 21). There are simpler definitions: for example, Ennis (1962, . 81) concisely put it as “correct assessing of statements.” But there are also more complicated aspects to explaining the

oncept: for example, Yanchar, Slife, and Warne (2008) argued that critical thinking is “inescapably perspectival” (p. 276), eaning that it cannot overlook the “identification and evaluation of implicit theoretical assumptions” (p. 265); and West,oplak, and Stanovich (2008) emphasized that, when thinking critically, evidence and arguments need to be evaluated

� Data collection for this study was carried out when the first author was working at the University of Auckland. ∗ Corresponding author at: Faculty of Science and Engineering, Bldg 51 Rm 5-09B, Waseda University, 3-4-1 Okubo, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8555, Japan.

el.: +81 90 6672 2075. E-mail address: (E. Manalo).

871-1871/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. ttp://

122 E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132

independent of prior beliefs and opinions that one may hold. Halpern (1998) also pointed out that critical thinking is “an attitude or disposition to recognize when a skill is needed and the willingness to apply it” (p. 452).

Irrespective of the definition that is used, there appears to be general agreement that critical thinking is a desirable attribute in academic settings, and that its development ought to be facilitated in students. Halpern and Nummedal (1995, p. 82) observed that “assignments that develop critical thinking skills . . . have taken center stage in many of our classrooms.” There are clear indications that such developments have occurred across different subject disciplines: in medicine, for example, Scott and Markert (1994, p. 920) noted that “generally, it is held that medical education trains students to use critical thinking skills in active problem solving regarding patient care,” and in engineering, Siller (2001, p. 108) argued that the “development of students’ abilities to think critically about engineering problems and design projects is an important educational objective.”

Educators and researchers generally agree that critical thinking as a skill can be developed in students (see, e.g., Halpern & Nummedal, 1995). However, generally accepted guidelines for the effective promotion of critical thinking skills development are lacking. One important reason for the absence of such guidelines is that there are many different factors believed to influence students’ critical thinking skills development and application. Without adequate understanding of how these various factors may influence critical thinking, it is difficult to confidently design programs for promoting critical thinking skills development that would address individual or shared needs of target groups of students.

Culture and culture-related factors constitute one of the debated factors that may influence students’ capabilities in, and use of, critical thinking. Some authors have argued that critical thinking is more difficult for some cultural groups. For example, some Asian student groups (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Korean) have been characterized as being more group- oriented, harmony-seeking, hierarchical, and non-critical thinking in comparison to students from Western cultures who are characterized as being more individualistic, adversarial, non-hierarchical, and critical thinking (e.g., Atkinson, 1997; Fox, 1994; Ramanathan & Kaplan, 1996). Other authors, however, have disagreed with such a view. Paton (2005), for example, referred to cases drawn from the history of science in China to illustrate the extent to which critical thinking is well embedded in traditional Chinese culture. Stapleton (2002) reported evidence that Japanese undergraduate students generally had a firm grasp of the requirements of critical thought and were capable of expressing opinions contrary to those held by authority figures. His findings were congruent with those of other researchers who have examined the quality of Japanese students’ writing and found that individual differences, rather than notions of sociocultural patterns, were more important determinants of “critical thought” and other measures of quality in students’ work (e.g., Kubota, 1998; Sasaki & Hirose, 1996).

1.1. Independent and interdependent self-construals

The question remains, however, as to whether there are certain cultural influences that affect not so much an individual’s understanding of critical thinking but his or her predisposition to apply it in different settings. One theory that has been quite influential in promoting the notion of psychological differences between Western and non-Western cultures is Markus and Kitayama’s (1991) theory of independent and interdependent self-construals. The term “self-construal” pertains to people’s interpretation or view of their own self, including their understanding of themselves as being physically distinct from others (cf. Hallowell, 1955) and their perceptions of that self in relation to the physical environment (cf. Neisser, 1976). According to Markus and Kitayama, culture plays a crucial role in determining the content and structure of that notion of self, including how the self relates to others. Their theory proposes that people from Western cultures have more independent self-construals. In essence, this means that their behavior is “organized and made meaningful primarily by reference to [their] own internal repertoire of thoughts, feelings, and actions, rather than by reference to the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others” (p. 226). In contrast, people from many non-Western cultures have more interdependent self-construals. This basically means that they view themselves as part of “an encompassing social relationship” and recognize that their behavior is “determined, contingent on, and to a large extent organized” (p. 227) by what they perceive as the thoughts, feelings, and actions of significant others.

An individual’s self-construal could conceivably have significant consequences for his or her cognition. Markus and Kitayama (1991) referred to authors like Bloom (1981, 1984) who have noted Chinese participants’ apparent difficulty in cognitive activities that require taking a counterfactual perspective. As Markus and Kitayama pointed out, however, it may not have been that the Chinese participants experienced difficulties in counterfactual reasoning per se but that, coming from a more interdependent orientation, they applied counterfactual thinking skills more selectively. In other words, they could have simply placed greater emphasis on the pragmatic implications of the situation they were in, considering questions about the expectations on themselves and the potential ramifications of answering in one way or another on their relationship with the test administrator.

Critical thinking skills, or more specifically its application, could likewise be affected by an individual’s orientation toward independence or interdependence. Critical thinking, by necessity, requires making judgment calls about the quality of pre- sented information, and in most situations such judgment calls cannot be entirely divorced from the social context. If Markus and Kitayama (1991) were correct in their views about interdependent individuals and cultures then it is likely that, sim-

ilar to the other aspects of cognition they discussed, there will be consequences on the application of critical thought. The interdependent individual will at the very least need to consider the appropriateness of exercising critical thought in the situation they encounter, of voicing any judgments they make, or of even being called upon to make such judgments. Even if they possess the necessary understanding and skills for critical thinking, they would likely be selective when to exercise this

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kill. Markus and Kitayama pointed out that, in an interdependent culture, “people are motivated to find a way to fit in with elevant others, . . . to become part of various interpersonal relationships” (p. 227) and “self-assertion is not viewed as being uthentic, but instead as being immature” (p. 229). Hence various expressions of critical thought in such an environment ould be interpreted negatively, making caution indispensable.

.2. Assessment and locomotion regulatory modes

Another culture-related factor that could have a bearing on people’s critical thinking use is “regulatory mode” (Higgins, ruglanski, & Pierro, 2003; Higgins, Pierro, & Kruglanski, 2008; Kruglanski et al., 2000). According to the regulatory mode

heory, people are pulled by two basic self-regulatory functions: assessment and locomotion. Assessment pertains to “the omparative aspect of self-regulation concerned with critically evaluating entities or states, such as goals and means, in elation to alternatives in order to judge relative quality,” while locomotion pertains to “the aspect of self-regulation con- erned with movement from state to state and with committing the psychological resources that will initiate and maintain oal-related movement in a straightforward and direct manner” (Kruglanski et al., 2000, p. 794). Thus, individuals who are igh in assessment mode tend to be concerned with weighing up alternatives, evaluating past performance, and critically valuating different means to achieving desired goals. In contrast, those high in locomotion mode are more focused on taking xpeditious action toward achieving the desired goals.

Higgins (2008) and Higgins et al. (2008) proposed that culture impacts on the relative distribution of individuals tending oward either the assessment or locomotion modes, and these tendencies in turn impact on cultural leanings toward certain ersonality traits. For example, they pointed to evidence that in Japan individuals are more likely to be “predominant ssessment” compared to the US where individuals are more likely to be “predominant locomotion,” If the regulatory mode heory is correct, and individuals possess varying degrees of tendency toward assessment and locomotion according to their ultural affiliation, there could be consequences not just for modal personality characteristics but also modal use of certain ognitive strategies such as critical thinking. Assessment involves evaluating and comparing, which are essential components f critical thinking. Individuals who are predominant assessment are characterized as deploying greater resources (i.e., time, ffort) into evaluating alternatives and drawing on past experiences and knowledge in making decisions about courses of ction to take: such qualities are congruent with common definitions of critical thinking. If, according to the assertions f Higgins (2008) and Higgins et al. (2008), there are greater proportions of assessment predominant individuals in some ultures, then this could imply that individuals belonging to those cultures would also be more prone toward critical thinking.

According to Higgins et al., compared to other cultures, they found a significantly higher percentage of predominant ssessment individuals in Japan. This would suggest that, as a group, the Japanese would demonstrate higher levels of ritical thinking compared to other cultures. However, as noted earlier, other authors (e.g., Atkinson, 1997; Fox, 1994; amanathan & Kaplan, 1996) have argued that Japanese people are among those who are less predisposed toward critical hinking compared to people from Western cultures. Thus, there are important, seemingly incongruent, propositions here hat need to be examined: Does a tendency toward assessment in self-regulation predispose individuals toward critical hinking use, or do other factors play a more influential role in determining such a predisposition?

.3. Overview of the present study

The main question addressed in this study was: To what extent do culture-related factors influence university students’ ritical thinking use? Even though a few studies have already examined differences between cultural groups on critical hinking measures, participant language proficiency accounted for at least part of the observed differences in these earlier tudies (e.g., Floyd, 2011; Lun, Fischer, & Ward, 2010). Furthermore, these previous studies did not focus on the specific spects of culture that could bring about differences in students’ critical thinking use. Thus, in the present study, the pos- ible relationships of both regulatory mode and independent-interdependent self-construals on critical thinking use were nvestigated. In addition, two other factors were examined for their possible links to critical thinking use: location, and study elf-efficacy.

A student’s location has implications on the degree to which he or she may be exposed to diversity experiences. Numerous uthors have argued that diversity experiences are important to the development of critical thinking skills (e.g., Gurin, 009; Hurtado, 1999; Pascarella, Palmer, Moye, & Pierson, 2001), although evidence has been reported that the benefits vary ccording to ethnic identity, with students of color not benefitting as directly from involvement in diversity experiences as hite students (Pascarella et al., 2001). Thus, the present authors deemed it important to examine not only whether the

ocation of students could impact on their critical thinking use, but also the extent to which “location” might interact with ther factors in influencing critical thinking use.

Another important issue about location relates to possible variations in the extent to which values associated with ritical thinking might be promoted in educational settings. In Western tertiary institutions, the importance placed on the evelopment of critical thinking as a skill is evident in official documents pertaining to educational aspirations, such as the

ssociation of American Colleges and University’s “College learning for the new global century” (2007) and, in New Zealand, the niversity of Auckland’s (2003) “graduate profile” (i.e., the University’s list of personal qualities, skills, and attributes that its raduating students would be expected to have developed). In the former, critical thinking is referred to as one of the essential kills, alongside writing and math, that students need to develop; and in the latter, critical thinking is listed as one of the

124 E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132

“general intellectual skills and capacities” students would be expected to obtain by the end of their undergraduate degree. In some non-Western countries, however, critical thinking skills may be valued but they may not be designated as necessary for students to develop. In Japan, for example, the education system places equal value (as in other countries) on the development of students’ thinking skills. Critical thinking, however, is not specified as a skill that students need to develop. For example, the Central Council for Education of Japan’s MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology), in its report entitled “Toward the enhancement of undergraduate education,” described the competencies that students ought to develop through a university bachelor’s degree. The competencies, based on generic skills (communication skills, logical thinking, and problem solving skills), knowledge/understanding, and comprehensive learning and its application (MEXT, 2009), did not specify critical thinking. Likewise, the Global Human Resource Development Committee of the Industry- Academia Partnership for Human Resource Development of Japan’s METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) proposed a set of fundamental competencies that working persons should possess. The set of competencies includes thinking skills, basic social skills, and execution skills (METI, 2010) – but again, critical thinking was not specified. Thus, it is possible that, despite critical thinking skills development being apparently considered important worldwide, locational differences like these could still result in students forming different views about the kinds of thinking skills they really must develop through their studies.

Although self-esteem is the factor that has often been examined in cross-cultural comparisons (e.g., both Higgins et al., 2008 and Markus & Kitayama, 1991, discuss self-esteem in relation to their theoretical proposals), when considering stu- dents’ use of critical thinking it would appear more appropriate to attempt to understand the extent to which a related construct, study self-efficacy, may have an influencing effect. Previous research studies on self-efficacy have indicated that students who believe in their own capabilities are more likely to use cognitive strategies (e.g., Schunk, 1985; Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1990), and self-efficacy has been identified as one of the best predictors of student academic performance (e.g., Multon, Brown, & Lent, 1991; Pintrich & De Groot, 1990). However, Eaton and Dembo (1997) found that for Asian American students fear of failure better explained achievement motivation than did self-efficacy beliefs – suggesting possi- ble differences between cultural-ethnic groups in the effects that motivational beliefs elicit. Likewise, not only could there be cultural differences in the overall extent to which self-efficacy beliefs are manifested by students, but also in the ways in which such beliefs might relate to students’ critical thinking use.

2. Method

2.1. Participants

The participants were 363 undergraduate university students who voluntarily completed the questionnaire used in this study. Their mean age was 19.2 years (SD = 2.4 years); 208 were males and 155 were females. The participants were studying at universities in Kyoto (n = 173; mean age = 18.9 years, SD = 1.4 years; females = 54, males = 119) and Okinawa (n = 103; mean age = 19.2, SD = 1.9 years; females = 41, males = 62) in Japan, and in Auckland (n = 87; mean age = 19.9 years, SD = 4.0 years; females = 60, males = 27) in New Zealand. The students from Auckland were of mixed ethnicity, comprising 52% European, 39% Asian, and 9% Polynesian (including Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand). However, the students from Kyoto and Okinawa were more homogenous in ethnic composition: all were of Japanese heritage and most, if not all, would have been born and raised in Japan (as would be typical of most Japanese students and the Japanese population in general). In both Japan and New Zealand, students do move to other cities for educational purposes (especially to pursue studies in specialist subject fields), but the majority of students tend to choose a university within their local area or closest major city. Thus, the majority of the students in the locational groupings of this study would likely have come from each of those respective cities and surrounding areas.

Participation from Japanese and New Zealand students was solicited in the present study because students from these locations would be considered as operating in Eastern/Asian (non-Western) and Western cultures, which are the broad cultural groupings of interest in the study. Caution, however, needs to be taken in generalizing findings from previous studies to specific subgroups within these broad cultural groupings. For example, findings about self-efficacy beliefs among Asian American students (Eaton & Dembo, 1997) cannot simply be assumed to apply also to other Asian student groups, such as Japanese students. It is important to empirically verify the extent to which such findings might also apply to other groups.

Considerable variation could also exist within such groups even on other culture-linked variables such as ethnicity. For example, in the present study, although New Zealand is considered as a Western country, Auckland is a culturally diverse city, as is now typical of many Western cosmopolitan cities like New York, London, and Sydney. Students in Auckland come not only from a European heritage but also Asian and Polynesian ethnic backgrounds, as indicated by the proportions belonging to these groups in the Auckland sample noted above. Consideration of possible culture-linked variations was in fact behind the decision to solicit participants from two locations in Japan as, although people in Kyoto and Okinawa would share many

aspects of the Japanese culture, their environments are quite different. Kyoto is a bigger and in many ways more modern city, but at the same time is considered as one of the best traditionally preserved cities in Japan with many temples and shrines, and traditional gardens and architecture that have survived wars and other disasters over the years. In contrast, Okinawa comprises hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands in southern Japan with a population that is more ethnically diverse,

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eing geographically close to China and other East Asian countries. Since 1945, the US has also had prominent military bases n Okinawa.

One of the basic ideas behind Markus and Kitayama’s (1991) theory of independent and interdependent self-construal s that cultures that have a Confucian philosophical heritage tend to place greater emphasis on people’s interrelatedness – eading to their tendency toward interdependent self-construal. Confucianism, however, is more commonly associated with hina, where it originated, rather than Japan. It is therefore useful to note here that, since its introduction to Japan in the id-6th century, Confucianism has had a major influence on Japanese culture and society, from its language and education,

o ethical beliefs and political thought (e.g., Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2012). Thus, examining self-construal and ts possible link to critical thinking use among Japanese students was considered appropriate in the present study.

.2. Instrument and procedure

The instrument used in this study was a questionnaire. It was presented in the Japanese language to participants in Japan, nd in English to participants in New Zealand. Double back translation was used in translating items to Japanese or English s required (i.e., for items from scales that had not previously been translated to Japanese or English).

The cover page of the questionnaire booklet provided a brief description of the study and reassurance of confidentiality, nd requested participants to supply demographic details. The remainder of the booklet contained the questionnaire items hich all required responses on Likert-type scales. These items are briefly described below.

Critical thinking scale of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ; Pintrich, Smith, Garcia, & McKeachie, 991) (5 items). This scale (from hereon referred to as CT-MSLQ) was included as one measure of critical thinking because f its brevity and alignment with generally accepted notions of critical thinking applications in academic settings.

Hirayama and Kusumi’s (2004) critical thinking scale (18 items). This scale (from hereon referred to as CT-HK) consists of ine items drawn from the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI; Facione & Facione, 1992), eight items

rom the “Orientation toward critical thinking scale for Japanese undergraduates” devised by Hirooka, Motoyoshi, Ogawa, nd Saito (2001), and one new item. Its items focus on assessing four components of critical thinking: the use of a logical or ystematic approach, inquisitiveness, objectivity, and reliance on evidence. The Hirayama and Kusumi scale was included in he present study particularly because it had been developed to assess critical thinking use among Asian (Japanese) students

in contrast to other more widely used critical thinking scales that have been developed in Western academic contexts. s such, the scale to some extent reflects Asian cultural perspectives about critical thinking, while at the same time not eviating from generally accepted notions of what critical thinking use in academic environments entails. (As the Hirayama nd Kusumi scale is not readily available in the English language, a list of its items is included in Appendix 1.)

Self-efficacy for learning and performance scale of the MSLQ (Pintrich et al., 1991) (8 items). This scale was included instead f other self-efficacy scales because of its brevity and direct relevance to academic settings.

Locomotion and assessment scales (Kruglanski et al., 2000) (24 items). These items were used to assess participants’ egulatory mode tendencies.

Assessment of independent and interdependent self-construals (Uchida, Park, & Kitayama, 2008) (20 items). These included even items from Singelis’ (1994) scale for the measurement of independent and interdependent self-construals. The other 13 tems were drawn from the Takata, Omoto, and Seike (1996) scale, and concerned preferences and situations that may more ffectively distinguish culturally-based leanings toward independence or interdependence for Japanese. This self-construal cale has previously been used in empirical research that includes consideration of possible independence-interdependence ifferences between cultural groups (e.g., Park & Kitayama, 2012).

Items from two other scales were included in the questionnaire administered to participants. However, because Cronbach eliability coefficients obtained for these scales were very low (indicating that the items were not reliably measuring what hey were intended to), and in the interest of brevity in writing this report, a decision was made to exclude details relating o these scales from this report.

. Results

.1. Correlational findings

Table 1 shows the correlations between the measures of critical thinking and other factors examined in this study, ncluding their Cronbach reliability coefficients. Based on the U.S. Department of Labor (1999) guidelines for testing and ssessment (which states that reliability coefficients equal to or greater than .70 can be considered adequate), these reliability oefficients were deemed satisfactory. All ̨ values were above .70, except for interdependence ( ̨ = .694); however, this was onsidered sufficiently close to the stipulated ̨ value, and excluding interdependence from discussions of self-construal ould not have been meaningful.

The significant correlation between CT-MSLQ and CT-HK indicates congruence between the two measures used to assess ritical thinking. Self-efficacy significantly correlated with both CT-MSLQ and CT-HK, suggesting a relationship between self- fficacy and critical thinking. Where the self-regulatory mode measures were concerned, both locomotion and assessment orrelated with the two measures of critical thinking, suggesting that both forms of self-regulation relate to critical thinking.

126 E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132

Table 1 Summary of correlations between critical thinking and other measures taken, with the Cronbach ̨ value for each measure shown in brackets in the diagonal.

Measures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

1. CT-MSLQ (.748) 2. CT-HK .508** (.714) 3. Self-efficacy .240** .238** (.941) 4. Locomotion .303** .431** .382* (.741) 5. Assessment .158** .144** .025 .079 (.724) 6. Independence .345** .370** .402** .469** .016 (.733) 7. Interdependence −.116* .017 −.186** −.007 .183** −.261 (.694)

N = 363. * p < .05.

** p < .01

Table 2 Differences in scores (means and standard deviations) in critical thinking and the other factors according to location.

Measures Location Bonferroni test results

Kyoto Okinawa Auckland n = 173 n = 103 n = 87

CT-MSLQ M 4.46 4.40 4.61 SD 1.08 1.06 1.19

CT-HK M 3.59 3.66 3.91 SD .48 .47 .53

Self-efficacy M 2.88 3.08 5.01 Auckland > Kyoto***, Okinawa***

SD 1.05 1.16 1.16 Assessment M 3.97 3.89 3.93

SD .61 .69 .73 Locomotion M 3.49 3.48 4.03 Auckland > Okinawa**, Kyoto**

SD .73 .63 .71 Independence M 3.20 3.11 3.67 Auckland > Okinawa**, Kyoto*

SD .59 .59 .53 Interdependence M 3.58 3.87 3.47 Okinawa > Auckland***, Kyoto***

SD .51 .54 .52


p < .05. ** p < .01.*** p < .001.

Where independent and interdependent self-construals were concerned, independence was found to significantly corre- late with the two measures of critical thinking, while interdependence only significantly negatively correlated with MSLQ-CT. These findings suggest a relationship between independent self-construal and critical thinking; but interdependent self- construal appears unrelated or even negatively related to critical thinking.

3.2. Comparisons of the student groups

Table 2 shows the means and standard deviations for the measures of critical thinking and other factors examined in this study, for the Kyoto, Okinawa, and Auckland student groups. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs) were carried out to compare the scores of the three groups. Two variables, age and gender, were not focused on in this study, but they were considered as potential confounding variables (see, e.g., McMillan, 1987; Walsh & Hardy, 1999) and were therefore entered into the analyses as covariates. That way, their possible bias or confounding effects on the results could be eliminated (see, e.g., Field, 2013). The Bonferroni multiple range test was performed on all main effects to identify where the differences were between the groups; the results of this test are also indicated in the right-most column of Table 2.

Where the critical thinking measures were concerned, no significant main effects were found: for CT-MSLQ, F(2, 355) = .40, p = .672; for CT-HK, F(2, 354) = 2.73, p = .067. The effect due to CT-HK was marginally significant (i.e., p < .10), and the Bonfer- roni test result showed that the Auckland students scored marginally higher on that scale compared to the Kyoto students, p = .082.

Where the other factors measured were concerned, significant main effects were found for the following: self-efficacy, F(2, 354) = 42.27, p < .001; the locomotion self-regulatory mode, F(2, 353) = 6.19, p = .002; independent self-construal, F(2, 355) = 5.12, p = .006; and interdependent self-construal, F(2, 355) = 11.98, p < .001. M, SD, and the Bonferroni test results for these significant effects are shown in Table 2. No significant main effect was found for the assessment self-regulatory mode,

F(2, 353) = .37, n.s. The significant differences indicate that students from Auckland scored higher in self-efficacy, locomotion self-regulation, and independent self-construal than students from both Kyoto and Okinawa. In contrast, students from Okinawa scored higher in interdependent self-construal compared to the students from Auckland and Kyoto.

E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132 127

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ig. 1. Standardized path coefficients of the model depicting the hypothesized relationships between critical thinking and the culture-related factors nvestigated.

.3. Structural equation modeling

Multi-group structural equation modeling (SEM) was undertaken using AMOS (ver. 16) to examine possible relationships etween critical thinking and the culture-related factors considered in this study. The variables shown are residuals in a egression analysis in which gender and age were used for controlling covariance. Fig. 1 displays the hypothesized relation- hips between the key measurements taken. For the sake of clarity, residual values for all exogenous variables have been mitted. The model embodies the following hypothesis. First, independence/interdependence in self-construal would be inked to regulatory mode and self-efficacy. These latter factors in turn would be linked directly or indirectly to a general ritical thinking factor, which is a latent variable (cf. Bollen, 2002) estimated in the model from the two measures of critical hinking used in this study. The general critical thinking factor would then link to or predict performance on those two

easures of critical thinking. The model shown in Fig. 1 produced an acceptable fit to the data, with CFI = .885, IFI = .903, Hoelter (.05) CN = 216,

MSEA = .066, and �2(24) = 61.5, p < .01. The CFI value of .885 is actually just under the .90 or higher index value that Bentler 1995) considered as indicative of a good fit between data and hypothesized model, but both the IFI (>.90) and RMSEA (<.08) alues can be considered as being indicative of at least an acceptable fit (cf. Hu & Bentler, 1999; Steiger, 1990). Although he Chi-square test produced a significant p value, suggesting the data did not fit the model well (cf. Schumaker & Lomax, 996), the �2/df ratio equalled 2.56, which is below 3 and is therefore indicative of an acceptable fit once sample size has been ccounted for (see Kline, 2005). Furthermore, the Hoelter (.05) CN value (which exceeds 200) points to a good fit between ata and hypothesized model (cf. Byrne, 2010).

The standardized path coefficients for the participants from Kyoto, Okinawa, and Auckland are shown at the top, middle, nd bottom of the coefficient clusters, respectively. Some of these coefficients indicate similarities between the three groups: or all three groups, independence appears moderately linked to locomotion, which in turn is also moderately linked to the eneral critical thinking factor. On the other hand, interdependence appears to have a weak to moderate link to assessment. urthermore, the coefficients linking the general critical thinking factor to the two measures of critical thinking used (CT- SLQ and CT-HK) appear to be of similar high magnitude for all three groups. There are also some apparent differences, although most of these did not reach significant levels. The negative link between

ndependence and interdependence is significantly different for the Kyoto and Okinawa groups, with the coefficient from the yoto students being of greater magnitude. Assessment appears to be more strongly linked to the general critical thinking

actor for the Okinawa group compared to the other two groups. Furthermore, for the Auckland group, self-efficacy appears o mediate the link between locomotion and the general critical thinking factor more strongly compared to the other two roups. For the Auckland group, interdependence also appears to have a negligible link to self-efficacy, while the link is a eak, negative one for the Kyoto and Okinawa groups.

. Discussion

.1. Relationships between critical thinking factors and other factors measured

The relationships found between self-efficacy and both the critical thinking measures used are congruent with pre- ious claims that students’ confidence in their own capabilities is related to cognitive strategies use (e.g., Schunk, 1985;

immerman & Martinez-Pons, 1990). However, apart from Pintrich et al.’s (1991) report of a significant correlation between he self-efficacy and critical thinking scale of the MSLQ (confirmed by the findings of this research), no previous studies had eported evidence to link these two constructs. It would be important in future research to determine the exact nature of his relationship between self-efficacy and critical thinking: if a causal relationship between the two is confirmed, then it

128 E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132

would be useful to consider and evaluate possible ways of enhancing self-efficacy to promote critical thinking use – or vice versa.

The finding that independent self-construal significantly correlated with both critical thinking measurements used lends support to Markus and Kitayama’s (1991) argument that self-construal affects not only social behavior but also the exercise of some cognitive skills and strategies. Likewise, the finding of significant correlations between both locomotion and assessment regulatory modes and the two measurements of critical thinking used supports Higgins and colleagues’ claim about the influence of self-regulatory modes on cognition and related actions (Higgins et al., 2003, 2008; Kruglanski et al., 2000). Together, these findings constitute new evidence of a link between culture-related constructs (i.e., self-construal, and self- regulatory modes) and students’ use of critical thinking.

4.2. Similarities in critical thinking use

The results of this study suggest little or no difference between the three groups in their academic use of critical thinking. No differences were found in the CT-MSLQ, and only a marginal difference was found between the Auckland and Kyoto groups where the CT-HK was concerned. This finding supports some authors’ argument that cultural differences do not affect students’ understanding of or ability to use critical thinking (e.g., Paton, 2005; Stapleton, 2002). As noted earlier, critical thinking and its applications in academic work have increasingly become considered as central to a good education in most countries worldwide. It is therefore possible that critical thinking qualities such as those noted above have now become integral components of what a university education promotes – irrespective of the culture or location of that education provision, and despite some locational differences in the extent to which development of critical thinking skills in educational contexts is portrayed as being “necessary” (noted earlier). The effect of such promulgation of critical thinking values in academia may be reflected in the results obtained in the present study.

Several factors that had previously been suggested as possible sources of observed differences in critical thinking skills performance between student groups (i.e., language, gender, age; cf. Floyd, 2011; Lun et al., 2010; McMillan, 1987; Walsh & Hardy, 1999) were controlled for in the present study. The questionnaire administered to students were in the native or dominant language used in each of the locations, making it less likely for language proficiency issues to have affected student performance in completing the scales. Both gender and age were factored in as covariates in the statistical analyses undertaken so that possible biases arising from them could be eliminated. What the results suggest is that, once language, gender, and age have been controlled for, little or no differences in critical thinking use could be observed according to locational or Western/non-Western groupings of students.

Although examining possible ethnicity-based differences within multi-ethnic student groups (like the Auckland group in the present study) could conceivably be useful to pursue in future research, the present authors do not consider it likely that ethnicity in itself would be a major influencing factor in students’ use of thinking skills such as critical thinking. In the present study, for example, it would be untenable to attribute the lack of group differences in reported critical thinking use to the mixed ethnic composition of the Auckland student group. Even though that group comprised of students of European, Asian, and Polynesian ethnic extraction, the group as a whole manifested self-efficacy, self-construal, and regulatory mode profiles aligned with previous portrayals of Western (as opposed to non-Western) people – as one could expect given that the students in that group were all operating in a predominantly Western cultural environment. In those measures, the Auckland students differed significantly from both Japanese student groups; it was only in the critical thinking measures that they did not differ. Hence, rather than that lack of difference being attributable to the Auckland group being inadequately “Western” because of the group’s mixed ethnic composition, it is more likely that (a) there is in fact no difference between Western and non-Western student groups in critical thinking use once other extraneous factors like language and gender have been accounted for, or (b) the critical thinking skills measurements employed in the present study might not have been sufficiently sensitive to detect differences in actual use between the groups – as explained below.

The critical thinking measurements used in this study were based on student self reports about how they think and what they do, rather than directly evaluating the extent to which the students manifest critical thinking qualities in academic work they produce. It is therefore conceivable, with the promulgation of critical thinking ideals in tertiary institutions worldwide noted above, that at least some of the students provided responses based on what they knew they ought to do or think – which may differ from what they would actually do or think when faced with actual tasks that require the application of critical thinking skills. It would therefore be useful in future investigations to seek verification of the present study’s findings by obtaining and comparing direct measurements of critical thinking skills application in students’ authentic classroom tasks.

4.3. Similarities and differences in the culture-related factors

The results of this study indicate that the student groups according to their respective locations (Kyoto, Okinawa, and Auckland) differed in their scores on all the culture-related factors examined, except for the assessment self-regulation

mode. The lack of significant difference between the groups on assessment self-regulation is contrary to Higgins (2008) and Higgins et al.’s (2008) reported observations of higher proportions of predominant assessment individuals in Japan. The present finding, however, may be due to the fact that the participants were all students and the predispositions associated with assessment (i.e., deployment of greater time and effort into evaluating alternatives, drawing on knowledge and past

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E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132 129

xperiences to make decisions) are exactly the kinds of predispositions that formal education typically cultivates in university tudents irrespective of where that education is provided. Hence, it may simply be that university students around the world core more or less equivalently on assessment self-regulation and as a group they may not necessarily reflect the tendencies n the wider population they belong to: this possibility warrants verification in future research.

The findings that, compared to the students from the two Japanese cities, students from Auckland possessed higher tudy self-efficacy, were more predisposed toward locomotion self-regulation, and were higher in their independent self- onstrual, confirm other authors’ previous claims about thinking process/approach differences between people from Western nd Eastern/Asian cultures (e.g., Eaton & Dembo, 1997; Higgins et al., 2008; Markus & Kitayama, 1991). As noted earlier, revious research in cultural differences have focused more on the construct of self-esteem rather than self-efficacy – noting oth differences in how self-esteem is conceptualized between Western and Eastern perspectives (e.g., Markus & Kitayama, 991) and the lower self-esteem scores of individuals in Japan compared to their counterparts in the US (Higgins et al., 2008). he finding in the present study that both Japanese groups scored lower than the New Zealand group in study self-efficacy uggests that a similar difference exists between Western and Eastern cultural groups in the extent to which this construct s manifested.

The results regarding interdependent self-construal, with the students from Okinawa manifesting higher scores com- ared to the student groups from both Auckland and Kyoto, are incongruent with notions about differences between estern and Eastern cultures. Until further investigations are carried out, the present authors can only speculate as to

he possible reasons. Environmental influences constitute one viable explanation. Although both Okinawa and Kyoto are n Japan, as noted earlier, the cities are quite different, including the more prominent American presence in Okinawa with he US military bases that are located there. This kind of foreign military presence is absent in both Kyoto and Auckland. hese latter two cities are also comparable in size and bigger than cities in Okinawa. It is possible that environmental eatures like these could have contributed to the manifested differences between the student groups. For example, that eople who live under military presence such as the one in Okinawa may become more sensitive to issues concerning

nterdependent relationships between peoples; or that those who live in larger, more urban communities may have com- aratively limited opportunities to appreciate the potential benefits associated with the development of interdependent elationships.

.4. Some theoretical and educational implications

There is an apparent contradiction in the findings of the present study that needs to be reconciled. On the one hand, ulture-related factors have been found to correlate with students’ critical thinking scores; furthermore, the students, accord- ng to their locational groupings, were found to differ in their scores on these factors. On the other hand, however, the student roups manifested little or no differences (only one marginal difference) in their critical thinking scores. The proposed model, hown in Fig. 1, provides one explanation that enables reconciliation of these seemingly incongruent findings. The model roposes that self-construal, regulatory mode, and self-efficacy all have an influence on students’ critical thinking use, but hat the student groups differ in the relative extent to which those factors exert their influence. For example, the impetus for ritical thinking appears to come mainly from locomotion self-regulation and self-efficacy for the Auckland students while, or the Okinawa students, it appears to come from both locomotion and interdependence-driven assessment self-regulation. he model further suggests that these differences in influencing factors do not lead to any differences in students’ ability to se critical thinking. In other words, the impetus for critical thinking could come from various combinations of these factors and possibly others not included in the model), and a reduction in the exerting influence of one could possibly lead to a ompensating increase in another.

This model raises questions about what critical thinking might mean to different groups of students and the extent to hich culture might influence such views. For example, Western students might exercise critical thinking primarily in pursuit

f desired goals and as a manifestation of their self-efficacy. In contrast, Asian (and possibly other non-Western) students ight use critical thinking more as a reflective tool to weigh up alternatives, to learn from past experiences, and to better anage relationships with significant others within their environments. Such differences and their possible theoretical and

ducational implications (e.g., on the quality of critical thinking outputs) would be important to elucidate in future research. A related and more practical question is how tertiary level instructors and institutional management and policy makers

ight view critical thinking, and the extent to which differences in such views might influence the ways in which students pply critical thinking to their academic work. It has already been noted in an earlier part of this paper that, unlike many estern countries, in Japan critical thinking is not specifically articulated as a skill that students need to develop in their

tudies. Differences in such kinds of requirements are, however, likely to be present also between instructors: some would xpect their students to evidence critical thinking in the work they produce, while others would not – or at least would not rticulate that as a requirement. Furthermore, for different instructors, what constitutes critical thinking and how it could e assessed in the work that students produce would vary. If critical thinking is really as important to develop through

ducation as appears to be the case in tertiary level education worldwide, finding out instructors’ and institutional decision akers’ views about this skill/concept would be just as important as finding out the views that students hold. Instructors’nd decision makers’ views and expectations, and how those are conveyed to students, may hold the key to promoting ffective development of critical thinking skills among students.

130 E. Manalo et al. / Thinking Skills and Creativity 10 (2013) 121– 132

5. Conclusion

The main purpose of the present study was to address the question: To what extent do culture-related factors influence university students’ critical thinking use? The findings indicate that the student groups examined, coming from Western and Asian cultural environments, did not differ in their reported use of critical thinking. This suggests two possible explanations that are not necessarily incongruent or independent of each other. The first is that culture does not in fact have a direct bearing on students’ use of critical thinking – in line with claims that have previously been made by some authors (e.g., Paton, 2005; Stapleton, 2002). The second is that perhaps the educational environment – and particularly the kinds of skills and values that are nurtured in such an environment – has a greater influence on students’ use of critical thinking. It would be important to more carefully examine in future research the nature of the relationship between cultural influences and environmental influences, not just where students’ use of critical thinking is concerned, but also their use of other cognitive skills and strategies. Especially in the increasingly globalized education environments where most teachers and students now operate, there are many academic values and expectations that are becoming common or shared across cultures/environments. It would be inappropriate to make untested assumptions about what skills and strategies students may possess, or may find difficult to develop, based on their cultural background. At the same time, educators need to develop strategies to more effectively promote the development and use of desired cognitive skills among students – strategies that would work in general, as well as possibly to address the specific needs of particular groups of students.

In the present study, possible confounding effects from participants’ gender and age (cf. McMillan, 1987; Walsh & Hardy, 1999) were able to be controlled for so that biases that could have arisen from these variables were eliminated from the results. However, information relating to other variables (e.g., socioeconomic status [SES], subject majors) that could have had confounding effects on the results was not gathered (or not gathered in an adequately systematic manner) from participants and therefore not able to be controlled for in the analyses. As previous studies have shown that SES in particular can affect students’ intelligence test scores and other measures of school performance (e.g., Charters, 1963, chap. 14), it is conceivable it can likewise influence students’ use of critical thinking, as well as their self-efficacy, self-construal, and regulatory mode. Hence, the influence of such variables on critical thinking and the other culture-related factors ought to be considered – or controlled for – in future research.

Critical thinking is an important educational construct and the present study contributes an initial step toward better understanding the relationships between this thinking approach and various culture-related factors that could influence its use. The findings, however, have also generated many new questions that would need to be addressed in future research. In addition to the questions that have already been noted, it would be useful to more carefully examine the possible influences on critical thinking of the variables that were controlled for in this study (i.e., language, gender, age). For example, the question of whether language structure or language proficiency might affect students’ use of critical thinking needs to be empirically and more systematically investigated in research. Culture has also been found to interact with gender in influencing other study-related processes (e.g., Henning et al., 2013), so it is conceivable for it to likewise influence critical thinking use. Addressing these and other related questions would contribute to better understanding the factors that affect students’ use of critical thinking and, consequently, how it may be possible to more efficaciously promote such use.


This research was supported by a grant-in-aid (23243071) received from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and by a grant from the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education Research Development Fund. The authors would like to thank Howard Gilbert, Bliss Lee, Marcus Henning, Lyannie Tran, and Yuri Uesaka for their invaluable assistance during various stages of this study.

Appendix A. English translation of the items from the Hirayama and Kusumi (2004) critical thinking scale

I try to provide logical explanations so that everyone can understand and agree with what I mean. I try to develop orderly plans to address complex problems. I try to clarify the assumptions and definition of terms in arguments. I try to organize and clarify the thoughts that others have expressed by using my own words. When I have to deal with something really complex, I tend to panic. I want to meet different kinds of people, and to learn a lot from them. I think that it is important to learn about the thinking styles of people from other countries. I am interested in people with different ideas from me. I want to study about other cultures. Studying new things all my life would be wonderful. I try to think not only from a few perspectives but from a lot of different perspectives.

When I decide something, I try to be objective. When thinking about something, I tend to consider it only from my own perspective. I always try to make unbiased judgements. It concerns me that I might have biases that I am not aware of.


























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When I judge something, I examine the relevant facts and evidence. I do not believe without casting at least some suspicion in every situation. When I conclude, I stick to the concrete evidence that has been presented. Note: Participants are asked to rate the extent to which they agree or disagree with each statement using a 1–5 scale

here 1 = disagree, 2 = mildly disagree, 3 = undecided, 4 = mildly agree, and 5 = agree.


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  • To what extent do culture-related factors influence university students’ critical thinking use?
    • 1 Introduction
      • 1.1 Independent and interdependent self-construals
      • 1.2 Assessment and locomotion regulatory modes
      • 1.3 Overview of the present study
    • 2 Method
      • 2.1 Participants
      • 2.2 Instrument and procedure
    • 3 Results
      • 3.1 Correlational findings
      • 3.2 Comparisons of the student groups
      • 3.3 Structural equation modeling
    • 4 Discussion
      • 4.1 Relationships between critical thinking factors and other factors measured
      • 4.2 Similarities in critical thinking use
      • 4.3 Similarities and differences in the culture-related factors
      • 4.4 Some theoretical and educational implications
    • 5 Conclusion
    • Acknowledgements
    • Appendix A English translation of the items from the Hirayama and Kusumi (2004) critical thinking scale
    • References