Front page Experimental research and graphs.

Experimental Research Tests and Papers

If the thinking lessons can be shown to improve thinking skill, then it would be difficult to find an excuse for not using them.

No amount of philosophising about the desirability of teaching thinking can replace actual results.

We might think it is a good idea to teach thinking and might set out to do so ahead of results in the hope of developing an effective method - but that would be pioneering.

Not everyone is a pioneer, and most people prefer to look at the results first and then decide.

The experimental results do show that CoRT Thinking Lessons have an effect on thinking skill.

This is not altogether surprising, because if you set out to train a skill then that skill does generally improve.

What is surprising is that as few as four lessons (and in one case a single lesson) can have such a marked effect - but then children are very good at learning new rules for new games.


Tape recorded discussions by eight separate groups of elementary school students. Of these eight groups four had done ten CoRT Thinking Lessons and the other four had not done any. The order of the groups was determined by tossing a coin.

Problem: A student wants to study to be a teacher. The student’s parents have to live in another country for five years due to work. Should the student accompany them or stay with relatives or friends until the course is completed? (The school has many students whose parents work for the military; therefore the problem is relevant to them.)



Essay by two classes of 32 students each at high school. One of the classes had the first CoRT Thinking Lesson (on the treatment of ideas) and the other class had not.


Subject for consideration: “Do you think there should be special weekend prisons for minor offenders?”


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Three groups from a mixed ability class (ages 12 and up) that had done 12 CoRT Thinking Lessons were compared with three groups from a comparable class that had not done any of the lessons.

Each group of four students was asked to discuss the following question:

“In order to make better use of scarce educational resources  (money for education), the following suggestions have been made:

1. Schools in country areas should be closed or,

2. That all schools should have fewer teachers.What do you think?”





Six groups of entry level students (six students in each group) were drawn from three different mixed ability classes. Three of the groups tackled the question before any CoRT Thinking Lessons, and the other three groups tackled the same question after doing four CoRT Thinking Lessons.

The groups discussed the question: “Should children be allowed to leave school as soon as they have learned to read and write?”


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Girls' Private School Girls aged 13-14.

One class had done fourteen CoRT lessons. The control group came from an equivalent class that had not done any lessons. Unfortunately the control class had to be divided in half to provide controls for two different experiments, so the number of students in the control group was only 16 and that in the experimental group was 32. For this reason the figures in the table can only be regarded as proportional.

The last line in the "no lessons" group has been multiplied by two to make it comparable with the other group.

The groups were asked to write on the question:

"Should everyone have to do one year's social work after leaving school?"



High School Girls and boys aged 16-18.

The students at this school had been selected for their high general level of ability and could be regarded as well above average. In a crossover experiment one group tackled the question without having studied any CoRT lessons and the other group tackled the same question after seven of the lessons.

The question was the same as that used in Experiment 3 (a): "Should everyone have to do one year's social work after leaving school?"

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CoRT 4 Creativity

The artificial word po is a way if responding to a situation outside of judgment. The creative use of po is described in detail in the Lesson Notes.

The use described below is the reactive use: that is to say the use of po as a response to avoid being forced into a polarised position. In thinking, the mind has to have something to do. It is more uncomfortable to have a "void" in which nothing is happening.

The simplest thing to do is to judge a situation.

In fact much evidence from the thinking of children and others shows that judgment is the most usual response when they are faced with any new situation: do I like it or do I not like it? Is it true or is it false?

Once such a judgment has been made, the rest of the thinking is used to support that judgment instead of exploring the situation.

The results shown here are in fact obtained from adults.



A number of statements were put to the following groups:

• 123 young teachers

• 196 science students at a university

• 78 civil servants

• 215 mixed college lecturers and graduates.

Each group was divided into two halves depending on whether their birthday fell on an odd or even date in the month. One half was asked to respond in an agree/disagree fashion, (Yes/No), and the other half was allowed to use the additional category of po.

A scale of conviction was also used so that Yes-1 meant a mild degree of certainty but Yes-5 meant the maximum certainty (with the same for No).

Po was explained very briefly as a device which meant that the user was operating outside the judgment system and wanted to treat the proposal as an idea to explore.

introducing PO


The uniformity of response in the YES/NO percentages is perhaps surprising.

The addition of the po opportunity made a big difference to all groups, reducing the Yes and No percentages by roughly similar amounts. The po response is in itself remarkably similar between the groups.

The following three statements were also put forward ;

Democracy is not necessarily the best political system for every country.

Cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and should be made legal.

"What you can get away with" is the basic ethic of modern society.

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Read the feedback from CoRT users. This will contine to be updated with this new on-line version.

Excerpts from "Research and Realities in Teaching and Learning" by Dr John Edwards, Associate Professor of Education, James Cook University of North Queensland.


The test (ACER-TOLA) consisted of five sub-tests, each designed to produce a standard distribution. This meant that 31% of the students tested would normally fail one or two standard deviations above the mean. The results of the CoRT trained group, and for the mean scores from the six years of grade 7's at this school were, in relation to proportion of the students above the mean as follows:



Test A - Test of learning abilities,

Test B - Study skills,

Test C - Mathematics skills,

Test D - Language vocabulary,

Test E - Language comprehension.

Feedback from the children was also positive, with the majority reporting big improvements in their thinking and self-confidence, and many reporting wide use of CoRT skills across the curriculum and in their everyday life.

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References: Edwards J., and Baldauf R.B. Jr., "Teaching Thinking in Secondary School' in W. Maxwell (Ed) title Thinking: The Expanding Frontier. Philadelphia, Franklin Institute Press, 1983 pages 199-138.

Edwards J., and Baldauf R.B. Jr., "The Effects of CoRT 1. Thinking Skills Program on Students" in Bishop 1., Lockhead J and Perkins D. N. eds., Thinking Progress in Research and Teaching. Hillsdale, N. J. Erlbaum, 1986.

Edwards J., and Baldauf R.B. Jr., “A Detailed Analysis of CoRT 1 in Classroom Practice”. Paper presented to the Third International Conference on Thinking, at the University of Hawaii, January 1987.




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