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Evaluating Biological Claims to Enhance Critical Thinking through Position Statements

    Authors: Tracie M. Addy1,*, Maura O. Stevenson1
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    Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT 06518
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2014
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Department of Biological Sciences, Quinnipiac University, 275 Mt. Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518. Phone: 203-582-6401. E-mail: tracie.addy@quinnipiac.edu.
    • ©2014 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 49-50. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.663
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    Abstract:

    Critical thinking is an important skill for undergraduates to learn, yet rarely is it formally taught in the classroom. Here we explain how critical thinking can be fostered within an undergraduate biology course by encouraging students to evaluate biological claims related to current topics within the course. We found that with the completion of two writing assignments within a four-week period, students demonstrated a significantly greater ability to analyze the evidence within the claims. These results support the notion that even short-term learning experiences focused upon critical thinking can enhance students’ skills beyond discipline-specific knowledge.

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References & Citations

1. American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) 2013 VALUE: valid assessment of learning in undergraduate education [Online.] http://www.aacu.org/value/rubrics/
2. Arum R, Cho E, Kim J, Roska J 2012 Documenting uncertain times: post-graduate transitions of the academically adrift cohort Social Science Research Council New York, NY
3. Arum R, Roska J 2011 Academically adrift: limited learning on college campuses University Press Chicago, IL
4. Ennis RH 1996 Critical thinking Prentice-Hall Upper Saddle River, NJ
5. Facione PA 1990 Critical thinking: a statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction The California Academic Press Millbrae, CA
6. Halpern DF 1998 Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains: dispositions, skills, structure training, and metacognitive monitoring Amer Psychol 53 449 455 10.1037/0003-066X.53.4.449 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.53.4.449
7. Libarkin J, Ording G 2011 The utility of writing assignments in undergraduate bioscience CBE Life Sci Educ 11 1 39 46 10.1187/cbe.11-07-0058 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.11-07-0058
8. National Research Council (NRC) 2011 Assessing 21st century skills The National Academies Press Washington, DC
9. Partnership for 21st Century Skills (The) 2013 Critical thinking and problem solving http://www.p21.org/overview/skills-framework/260
10. Proulx G 2004 Integrating scientific method and critical thinking in classroom debates on environmental issues Am Biol Teach 66 26 33 10.1662/0002-7685(2004)066[0026:ISMCTI]2.0.CO;2 http://dx.doi.org/10.1662/0002-7685(2004)066[0026:ISMCTI]2.0.CO;2
11. Quitadamo IJ, Kurtz MJ 2007 Learning to improve: using writing to increase critical thinking performance in general education biology CBE Life Sci Educ 6 2 140 154 10.1187/cbe.06-11-0203 17548876 1885902 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.06-11-0203
12. Van Gelder T 2005 Teaching critical thinking: some lessons from cognitive science Coll Teach 53 41 46 10.3200/CTCH.53.1.41-48 http://dx.doi.org/10.3200/CTCH.53.1.41-48
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.663
2014-05-01
2017-07-22

Abstract:

Critical thinking is an important skill for undergraduates to learn, yet rarely is it formally taught in the classroom. Here we explain how critical thinking can be fostered within an undergraduate biology course by encouraging students to evaluate biological claims related to current topics within the course. We found that with the completion of two writing assignments within a four-week period, students demonstrated a significantly greater ability to analyze the evidence within the claims. These results support the notion that even short-term learning experiences focused upon critical thinking can enhance students’ skills beyond discipline-specific knowledge.

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Assessment of critical thinking through position statements in an undergraduate biology course.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2014 vol. 15 no. 1 49-50. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v15i1.663
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