The effectiveness of problem-based thematic learning module to improve primary school student’s critical thinking skills

Anik Twiningsih, Sajidan Sajidan, Riyadi Riyadi


Thematic learning is considered as efficient as the students taught learn in coherent context and holistic way, as well as associate the concepts they learnt with their surrounding and real-life examples. The aim of the study was to identify the effectiveness of the problem-based thematic learning module prototype to improve students' critical thinking skills. This research and development were conducted based on Borg and Gall model. The module effectiveness was tested using pre-experimental design. The sampling technique used was cluster random sample which employed as many as 33 students in which the data collection technique used was test. The data gained was analyzed using paired sample t-test. The results showed that the students’ post-test score of critical thinking skills were significantly differed from their pre-test score. Therefore, the developed module can improve student critical thinking skills effectively. Moreover, it is suggested that teacher should apply a mixed method of teaching as it helps to strengthen students’ critical thinking skills.


Critical thinking skill, problem-based learning, thematic module

Full Text:



Ahrari, S., Samah, B. A., Hassan, M. S. H. Bin, Wahat, N. W. A., & Zaremohzzabieh, Z. (2016). Deepening critical thinking skills through civic engagement in Malaysian higher education. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 22, 121–128. doi:

Arends, R. I. (2012). Learning to teach (9th ed.). Retrieved from

Bahmani, S. (2016). Improved critical thinking in students using current events journaling. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 36(3/4), 190–202. doi:

Broom, C. (2011). From critical thinking to critical being. ENCOUNTER: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, 24(2), 16–27. Retrieved from

Cargas, S., Williams, S., & Rosenberg, M. (2017). An approach to teaching critical thinking across disciplines using performance tasks with a common rubric. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 26, 24–37. doi:

Chaijaroen, S., Kanjug, I., & Samat, C. (2012). The study of learners’ critical thinking potential, learning with innovation enhancing thinking potential. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 3415–3420. doi:

Chen, C. W. C., & Osman, K. (2017). Cultivating marginalized children’s scientific literacy in facing the challenges of the 21st century. K-12 STEM Education, 3(1), 167–177. doi:

Chukwuyenum, A. N. (2013). Impact of critical thinking on performance in mathematics among senior secondary school students in Lagos State. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education (IOSR-JRME), 3(5), 18–25. Retrieved from

Cochrane, K. L., Augustyn, C. J., Cockcroft, A. C., David, J. H. M., Griffiths, M. H., Groeneveld, J. C., … Tarr, R. J. Q. (2004). An ecosystem approach to fisheries in the southern Benguela context. African Journal of Marine Science, 26(1), 9–35. doi:

Davies, D. J., Earle, S., McMahon, K., Howe, A., & Collier, C. (2017). Development and exemplification of a model for teacher assessment in primary science. International Journal of Science Education, 39(14), 1869–1890. doi:

Efendioglu, A. (2015). Problem-based learning environment in basic computer course: Pre-service teachers’ achievement and key factors for learning. Journal of International Education Research, 11(3), 205–216. doi:

Facione, P. A. (2011). Critical thinking : What it is and why it counts. Millbrae, CA: Measured Reasons and The California Academic Press. Retrieved from

Fahim, M., & Pezeshki, M. (2012). Manipulating critical thinking skills in test taking. International Journal of Education, 4(1), 153–160. doi:

Gall, M. D., Gall, J. P., & Borg, W. R. (2007). Educational research: An introduction, 8th edition. United State: Pearson. Retrieved from

Gallagher, S. A., Stepien, W. J., & Rosenthal, H. (1992). The effects of problem-based learning on problem solving. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36(4), 195–200. doi:

Gingerich, A., Mader, H., & Payne, G. W. (2012). Problem-based learning tutors within medical curricula: An interprofessional analysis. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 26(1), 69–70. doi:

Goldstein, L. B., Burke, B. L., Getz, A., & Kennedy, P. A. (2011). Ideas in practice: Collaborative problem-based learning in intermediate algebra. Journal of Developmental Education, 35(1), 26–37. Retrieved from

Habimana, O., & Stambach, A. (2015). Kung Fu as critical thinking: An ethnographic analysis. Journal of Philosophy in Schools, 2(1), 56–70. doi:

Hamburg, I., & Vladut, G. (2016). PBL - Problem based learning for companies and clusters. Transportation Research Procedia, 18, 419–425. doi:

Haseli, Z., & Rezaii, F. (2013). The effect of teaching critical thinking on educational achievement and test anxiety among junior high school students in Saveh. European Online Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, 2(2), 168–175. Retrieved from

Irawan, A., & Febriyanti, C. (2016). Penerapan strategi pembelajaran kontekstual untuk meningkatkan kemampuan berpikir kritis matematika. Jurnal Ilmu Pendidikan, 22(1), 9–17. doi:

Ismail, N. S., Harun, J., Zakaria, M. A. Z. M., & Salleh, S. (2018). The effect of mobile problem-based learning application DicScience PBL on students’ critical thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 28, 177–195. doi:

Jamiah, Y. (2012). Internalisasi nilai-nilai berpikir kritis melalui pengembangan model pembelajaran konsep matematika kreatif pada pendidikan anak usia dini. Jurnal Pendidikan Dan Pembelajaran, 19(2), 229–236. Retrieved from

Johnson, M., & Hayes, M. J. (2015). A comparison of problem-based and didactic learning pedagogies on an electronics engineering course. International Journal of Electrical Engineering Education, 53(1), 3–22. doi:

Khasanah, A. N., Sajidan, & Widoretno, S. (2017). Effectiveness of critical thinking indicator-based module in empowering student’s learning outcome in respiratory system study material. Jurnal Pendidikan IPA Indonesia, 6(1), 187–195. doi:

Kong, L.-N., Qin, B., Zhou, Y., Mou, S., & Gao, H.-M. (2014). The effectiveness of problem-based learning on development of nursing students’ critical thinking: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 51(3), 458–469. doi:

Koparan, T. (2017). Analysis of teaching materials developed by prospective mathematics teachers and their views on material development. Malaysian Online Journal of Educational Technology, 5(4), 8–28. Retrieved from

Ku, K. Y. L., Lee, V. S. L., & Ellis, J. W. (2017). Using artwork as problem context in generic critical thinking instruction: A strategy for thoughts. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 25, 53–59. doi:

Min, K. C., Rashid, A. M., & Nazri, M. I. (2012). Teachers’ understanding and practice towards thematic approach in teaching Integrated Living Skills (ILS) in Malaysia. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(23), 273–281. Retrieved from

Mosher, H. R., & Desrochers, M. (2014). The effects of information regarding sustainability issues and behavioral self-management instruction on college students’ energy conservation. Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 15(3), 359–370. doi:

Mudrikah, A. (2016). Problem-based learning associated by Action-Process-Object-Schema (APOS) theory to enhance students’ high order mathematical thinking ability. International Journal of Research in Education and Science, 2(1), 125–135. Retrieved from

Muhson, A. (2009). Peningkatan minat belajar dan pemahaman mahasiswa melalui penerapan problem-based learning. Jurnal Kependidikan, 39(2), 171–182. doi:

Nagge, J. J., Killeen, R., & Jennings, B. (2018). Using a course pilot in the development of an online problem-based learning (PBL) therapeutics course in a post-professional PharmD program. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 10(2), 231–234. doi:

Nargundkar, S., Samaddar, S., & Mukhopadhyay, S. (2014). A guided problem-based learning (PBL) approach: Impact on critical thinking. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 12(2), 91–108. doi:

Nilasari, E., Djatmika, E. T., & Santoso, A. (2016). Pengaruh penggunaan modul pembelajaran kontekstual terhadap hasil belajar siswa kelas V Sekolah Dasar. Jurnal Pendidikan: Teori, Pendidikan, Dan Pengembangan, 1(7), 1399–1404. doi:

Noprianda, M., Noor, M. F., & Zulfiani. (2016). Keterampilan berpikir kritis siswa model pembelajaran problem based learning dan sains teknologi masyarakat pada konsep virus. EDUSAINS, 8(2), 182–191. doi:

Novianto, A., & Mustadi, A. (2015). Analisis buku teks muatan tematik integratif, scientific approach, dan authentic assessment sekolah dasar. Jurnal Kependidikan, 45(1), 1–15. doi:

Okubo, Y., Ishiguro, N., Suganuma, T., Nishikawa, T., Takubo, T., Kojimahara, N., … Yoshioka, T. (2016). Team-based learning, a learning strategy for clinical reasoning, in students with problem-based learning tutorial experiences. The Tohoku Journal of Experimental Medicine, 240(2), 181–181. doi:

Osman, K., & Vebrianto, R. (2005). Fostering science process skills and improving achievement through the use of multiple media. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 12(2), 191–204. Retrieved from

Palennari, M. (2016). Pengaruh pembelajaran integrasi problem based learning dan kooperatif jigsaw. Jurnal Ilmu Pendidikan, 22(1), 36–45. doi:

Retnawati, H., Munadi, S., Arlinwibowo, J., Wulandari, N. F., & Sulistyaningsih, E. (2017). Teachers’ difficulties in implementing thematic teaching and learning in elementary schools. The New Educational Review, 48, 201–212. doi:

Rosdiana, G. C., Yuniarsih, T., & Waspada, I. (2018). The effect of implementation problem based learning method towards students’ critical thinking skills moderated by self regulated learning on basic competency analyzing international trade. International Journal of Educational Research, 2(3), 15–26. Retrieved from

Rufii, R. (2015). Developing module on constructivist learning strategies to promote students’ independence and performance. International Journal of Education, 7(1), 18–28. doi:

Saglam, H. I. (2011). An investigation on teaching materials used in social studies lesson. TOJET: The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(1), 36–44. Retrieved from

Schoenberger-Orgad, M., & Spiller, D. (2014). Critical thinkers and capable practitioners. Journal of Communication Management, 18(3), 210–221. doi:

Siew, N. M., & Mapeala, R. (2016). The effects of problem-based learning with thinking maps on fifth graders’ science critical thinking. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 15(5), 602–616. Retrieved from

Simamora, S. J., Simamora, R. E., & Sinaga, B. (2017). Application of problem based learning to increase students ’ problem solving ability on geometry in class X SMA Negeri 1 Pagaran. International Journal of Sciences: Basic and Applied Research (IJSBAR), 36(2), 234–251. Retrieved from

Simone, C. De. (2014). Problem-based learning in teacher education: Trajectories of change. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(12), 17–29. Retrieved from

Sulaiman, F., & Eldy, E. F. (2014). Integrated PBL approach: Findings towards physics students’ critical thinking. International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, 2(2), 75–81. Retrieved from

Tiruneh, D. T., Verburgh, A., & Elen, J. (2014). Effectiveness of critical thinking instruction in higher education: A systematic review of intervention studies. Higher Education Studies, 4(1), 1–17. doi:

Treadwell, S. M. (2018). Making the case for project-based learning (PBL) in physical education. Jounal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 89(1), 5–6. doi:

Ulger, K. (2018). The effect of problem-based learning on the creative thinking and critical thinking disposition of students in visual arts education. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 12(1). doi:

Wilkin, C. L. (2017). Enhancing critical thinking: accounting students’ perceptions. Education + Training, 59(1), 15–30. doi:

Williams, K. C., & Williams, C. C. (2011). Five key ingredients for improving student motivation. Research in Higher Education Journal, 11, 1–23. Retrieved from

Xue, H., Qian, J., Wang, L., Yuan, X., Chen, Y., Wu, W., … Sun, K. (2013). 3C3R modified PBL pediatric teaching of Chinese medical students. PLoS ONE, 8(5), 1–9. doi:

Zangori, L., & Forbes, C. T. (2015). Exploring third-grade student model-based explanations about plant relationships within an ecosystem. International Journal of Science Education, 37(18), 2942–2964. doi:

Zetriuslita, Ariawan, R., & Nufus, H. (2016). Students’ critical thinking ability: Description based on academic level and gender. Journal of Education and Practice, 7(12), 154–164. Retrieved from

Zhou, M., & Brown, D. (Eds.). (2015). Educational learning theories: 2nd edition (2nd ed.). Georgia: GALILEO, University System of Georgia. Retrieved from

DOI: | Abstract views : 815 | PDF views : 815 |


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019 Twiningsih et al

License URL:

View JPBI Stats

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.