# How might collaborative complex task completion impact students' critical thinking skills?

Payton Knutson

**Seminar Title**

How might collaborative complex task completion impact students' critical thinking skills?

**Concept/Strategy**

Focus of the Research

Critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, complex instruction

**Grade Level**

Research Was Applied

8th Grade

**Relevant Grade Level**

Connections

High School

**Discipline**

Where Research Was Applied

Mathematics

**Additional Discipline Areas**

I see Application to

All Disciplines

**Invitation/Commercial**

When you think about your math classes in middle school, what comes to mind? Probably things like solving equations using standard algorithms, memorizing multiplication facts, and plugging numbers into formulas. Most of these tasks focus on rote learning and require very little critical thinking. This was fine before computers existed, but now the answers to all those questions can be found with a quick Google search on your phone. So why do we still teach math this way? Teaching these last couple years through the pandemic, I have seen my students' abilities to problem solve and explain their reasoning decrease dramatically, so I wanted to research ways to increase their critical thinking skills. I decided to implement a strategy where students worked collaboratively to complete complex mathematical tasks for two reasons. First, these tasks would require students to engage their prior knowledge, creativity, and problem-solving skills to complete them. Secondly, I knew my students would struggle to do this on their own, so the strategy is collaborative to allow them to use their peers as scaffolds. If you are curious about ways to increase critical thinking or want to engage in conversation around the culture of math education in the U.S., then this is the session for you!