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The Use of Assessment Strategies to Develop Critical Thinking Skills in Science . Dr Megan H. Hargreaves & Dr Al T. Grenfell, Faculty of Science, Queensland University of Technology The ACTS Project Background Science Faculty Project Participants from all Schools & Sections

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the use of assessment strategies to develop critical thinking skills in science

The Use of Assessment Strategies to Develop Critical Thinking Skills in Science.

Dr Megan H. Hargreaves & Dr Al T. Grenfell,Faculty of Science,

Queensland University of Technology

the acts project
The ACTS Project
  • Background
    • Science Faculty Project
    • Participants from all Schools & Sections
    • Various projects undertaken
    • Supported by T&L Large Research Grant
  • Overarching Theme
    • Building Critical Thinking Skills into the curriculum
    • Designing Assessment strategies to “drive” the learning
underlying premises
Underlying premises
  • Assessment as a motivator of learning
    • Not simply WHAT is learned but HOW
  • Critical thinking
    • Analysing, investigating alternatives, examining conclusions
  • SOLO levels of Critical thinking skills
    • Scaled approach: students should improve their level of CTS throughout their studies
  • Research (Inquiry) learning
    • Uses real-life problems, and real research techniques to stimulate CT approach
critical thinking skills in science
Critical Thinking Skills in Science
  • Designing experiments and testing hypotheses
  • Analysing arguments
  • Solving problems
  • Thinking creatively

Halpern, D.F. (1997). Critical thinking across the curriculum: a brief edition of thought and knowledge. New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum.

the microbiology component
The Microbiology component
  • Units taken in second and third year
  • “Stream” of units included in ACTS
  • Basic CT skills introduced in Micro 1 & 2
    • Problem Solving in Laboratory classes
    • Application to “real-life” situations
  • Skills built on for Advanced units
    • Environmental Microbiology: Research project
    • Bacterial Pathogenesis: Clinical Case Studies
the research inquiry
The Research Inquiry
  • Preparation
    • Students form groups of 2-3 (Allocated to a tutor)
      • Identify a problem within the defined parameters of the study
      • Form a hypothesis
      • Identify previous knowledge, knowledge gaps
      • Write a proposal, project plan, materials list
  • Performance
    • Groups collect environmental samples, analyse them, record results
  • Pondering (Reporting)
    • Group members collaborate to produce a written report in the form of a Journal Article
    • Report must include:
      • Short literature review, material and methods, results
      • Discussion of significance of results, in relation to the hypothesis, alternative hypotheses that might be considered, future research
marking for critical thinking skills
Marking for Critical Thinking Skills
  • Is the question at issue well stated? Is it clear and unbiased? Does the expression of the question do justice to the complexity of the matter at issue?
  • Does the writer cite relevant evidence, experiences and/or information essential to the issue?
  • Does the writer clarify key concepts when necessary?
  • Does the writer show a sensitivity to what he or she is assuming or taking for granted? (Insofar as those assumptions might reasonably be questioned)?
  • Does the writer develop a definite line of reasoning, explaining well how he/she is arriving at his/her conclusions?
  • Is the writer’s reasoning well-supported?

Centre for Critical Thinking, Sonoma State University, California. A sample assignment format. Available online at http://www.criticalthinking.org/University/univclass/AssignFormat.html

outcomes
Outcomes
  • Feedback
    • The research project is a very valuable experience for future work
    • The project is great for practical hands-on experience and getting thinking about scientific reports
    • Group assignment was very interesting: we really got into it. It made me feel like I was a real scientist
    • Student projects are a valuable insight into the “real-world” of this field
  • Survey
    • Students perceived an increase in their CT skills to SOLO levels 3-4 (Relational to Extended abstract)
  • Marking
    • Critical thinking criteria clearly demonstrated in majority of project reports