In a report set for release in the fall and previewed at the American Educational Research Association convention in New Orleans in April, researchers analyzed how AVID, a study-skills intervention for middle-achieving students, played out in 14 Chicago high schools. They found AVID participants in 9th grade gained little advantage that year over peers not taking part in the program, and remained off track for graduation and college.You can't think critically about algebra if you don't know algebra.
Doug Rohrer, a psychology professor at the University of South Florida, in Tampa, found the CCSR study more rigorous than prior AVID research.
In a September 2010 analysis, the U.S. Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse found only one of 66 AVID studies met its quality standards. Based on that study, the clearinghouse found AVID had “no discernible effects on adolescent literacy.”
“The critical question in my mind,” Mr. Rohrer continued, “is whether AVID is better than requiring students to go to another class, such as an extra dose of math or writing. Learning how to take notes is a fine strategy, but it might not help you in Algebra 2 if you haven’t learned Algebra 1.”
Here is Daniel Willingham on the subject (pdf file):
After more than 20 years of lamentation, exhortation, and little improvement, maybe it’s time to ask a fundamental question: Can critical thinking actually be taught? Decades of cognitive research point to a disappointing answer: not really. People who have sought to teach critical thinking have assumed that it is a skill, like riding a bicycle, and that, like other skills, once you learn it, you can apply it in any situation. Research from cognitive science shows that thinking is not that sort of skill. The processes of thinking are intertwined with the content of thought (that is, domain knowledge).
Critical Thinking: Why Is It So Hard to Teach?