Background: Scientific framework is important in designing curricula and evaluating students in the field of education and clinical practice. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of non-traditional educational methods on critical thinking skills. Methods: A systematic review approach was applied. Studies published in peer-reviewed journals from January 2001 to December 2014 were searched using electronic databases and major education journals. A meta-analysis was performed using Review Manager 5.2. Reviewing the included studies, the California Critical Thinking Dispositions Inventory (CCTDI) and California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) were used to assess the effectiveness of critical thinking in the meta-analysis. Results: The eight CCTDI datasets showed that non- traditional teaching methods (i.e., no lectures) were more effective compared to control groups (standardized mean difference [SMD]: 0.42, 95 % confidence interval [CI]: 0.26-0.57, p <.00001). And six CCTST datasets showed the teaching and learning methods in these studies were also had significantly more effects when compared to the control groups (SMD: 0.29, 95 % CI: 0.10-0.48, p = 0.003). Conclusions: This research showed that new teaching and learning methods designed to improve critical thinking were generally effective at enhancing critical thinking dispositions.
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