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Dialogues in cybernetics: a model for understanding critical thinking construction in the digital age

Cavalcanti das Neves Valle, L. H. (2019) Dialogues in cybernetics: a model for understanding critical thinking construction in the digital age. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00088337


This thesis study examines the Critical Thinking construction from students while using the digital technologies for web-based activities at school. At the end, we propose a model that explains Critical Thinking based on the Science of Cybernetics. Critical learning opportunities within schools are needed urgently. Critical thinkers will be adaptable to technologies and therefore will present essential qualities for the Digital Age. The scientific literature is full of arguments to support this approach, however, apart from some studies that propose a linear model for this matter, not much has been proposed concerning a complex model for Critical Thinking in the Digital Age. To this end, the research question is as follows: How is the critical thinking process fostered at the Cognition Level in the Digital Age? This is addressed by considering the process of critical thinking as an open system, according to principles of Cybernetics. Data for the study was collected twice. The initial Pilot Study revealed unexpected phenomena which current theories in Education could not explain. In the Main Study, a Cybernetic approach was used preserving identical research techniques and data analysis instruments from the initial study. Both studies used a Research Protocol Activity executed by participants and, after that, a clinical interview. Data were analysed and a Cybernetic Model for Critical Thinking proposed, applying the principles of Entropy and of Selective Retention, to explain how critical thinking is built in the Cognitive level. The Model has been built from the exploratory Pilot Study and the Main Theoretical Study. This thesis presents the background of Critical Thinking, with a theory and concepts that will help to stimulate critical thoughts, suggesting the path that must be taken to stimulate and develop critical thinking in students. This work has a significant contribution to the existing critical thinking literature, proposing a holistic approach that includes Cybernetics and Cognition. The developed concepts of “Entropy”, “Deterrence”, and the Model itself can help assessing learning and cognition in another dimension. We proposed the concept of Entropy to critical thinking (see Chapter 5) fostered from a large literature review that involved Philosophy, Sociology, Education and Cybernetics. The concept will be helpful to researchers who want to dedicate their project to cognitive phenomena, or to Human-machine interaction. Similarly, the concept of Deterrence can equally be used for areas where cognition, education society and Cybernetics can be helpful. However, further work is needed to extend this study for other populations, such as adults and university undergraduates. By validating the model in such populations, it could be successfully applied to foster critical thinking in most human beings, while involving digital technologies.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Mitchell, R.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Computer Science
ID Code:88337
Date on Title Page:2018


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