Students need a bigger structure, a sort of scaffolding, within which they can organize smaller items of knowledge and establish the relationship between what they know and the new information they acquire. Writing is thought to be a vehicle for improving student learning Champagne and Kouba, ; Kelly and Chen, ; Keys, ; Hand and Prain, , but too often is used as a means to regurgitate content knowledge and derive prescribed outcomes Keys, ; Keys et al. Ease them into the process by asking them to describe a character using a metaphor. This phenomenon was previously observed by Quitadamo, Brahler, and Crouch unpublished results in a related study that investigated the effect of Peer Led Team Learning on critical thinking performance. Association for the Study of Higher Education. Internal group discussions allowed students to argue individual viewpoints as they worked toward group agreement on each thought question. How might writing in general education biology affect the analysis, inference, and evaluation skills that are inherent to critical thinking?

Pretest scores indicating prior critical thinking skill were also used to further establish comparability between the writing and nonwriting groups. The historical baseline provided a way to determine what student performance had been before experiencing the writing treatment, whereas the concurrent nonwriting groups allowed for a direct comparison of critical thinking performance during the writing treatment. With a little planning, your class can help students master, not just memorize, knowledge. From the literature it is clear that, although critical thinking skills are some of the most valued outcomes of a quality education, additional research investigating the effects of instructional factors on critical thinking performance is necessary Tsui, , In this context, writing may provide opportunity for students to think through arguments and use higher-order thinking skills to respond to complex problems Marzano, Does the development of analysis, inference, and evaluation skills differ between students who experience writing versus those who experience traditional laboratory instruction? Historically, there has been little agreement on how to conceptualize critical thinking.

Houghton Mifflin Company; Students were given weekly thought questions before beginning laboratory to help them frame their efforts during laboratory exercises. The Delphi conceptualization of critical thinking encompasses several cognitive skills that include: Facing the 21st century.


Students practice divergent and critical thinking by designing an intelligence test and administering it to ten people.

How do instructors specifically influence student gains in critical thinking? A more recent review by Daempfle similarly indicates the need for additional research to clarify relationships between writing and critical thinking in science. Experimental and Quasi-experimental Designs for Research. In fact, statistical results indicated that these variables collectively had a very small effect on critical thinking performance.

A range of sample essays from poor to high quality was used to calibrate graduate assistant scoring and ensure consistency between assistants from different laboratory sections within the writing group. Specifically, students with the highest prior critical thinking skill showed the largest performance gains, whereas students with low initial skill were at a comparative disadvantage.

There were some logistical challenges with writing, like scheduling computer labs where students could draft and revise their weekly essay responses under instructor and teaching assistant supervision. Demographics profile for the study sample. This presents a large problem when one considers the societal role that general education students will play as voters, community members, and global citizens. Nyquist ; “Topics in Question: Various instruments are available to assess critical thinking Watson and Glaser, ; Ennis and Weir, ; Facione, b ; Center for Critical Thinking and Moral Critique, ; however, only the CCTST measures cognitive and meta-cognitive skills associated with critical thinking, is based on a consensus definition of critical thinking, and has been evaluated for validity and reliability for measuring critical thinking at the college level Facione, a ; Facione et al.

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking

The document notes the relative rarity of the two more advanced positions among college undergraduates and the danger implicit in “commitment” assignments in encouraging premature solidification of student opinions.

The four patterns are: Taking a slightly different tack, Steglich informally assessed student attitudes in nonmajors biology courses, and noted that writing produced positive changes in student attitudes toward biology.

Kurfiss, Joanne Gainen [WorldCat Identities]

Every School, Every Student. Faculty considering whether to use writing in the laboratory may wonder about how much time and energy it takes to implement, if efforts to change will translate into improved student learning, and how these changes affect disciplinary content. Written product as performance measures; pp. In turn, English students had to justify their editorial comments with strateiges work of their own. Nonwriting faculty drafted quizzes that addressed laboratory content knowledge.


This preliminary study provided some evidence that undergraduate critical thinking skills could be measurably improved within an academic semester, but provided no information about criitcal critical thinking skills could be changed during a shorter academic quarter. Using the metaphors as a starting point, students can then develop an argument for why they chose the metaphor.

If a high proportion of students are coming to institutions of higher education lacking critical thinking skills, why are these skills not being explicitly taught in the K—12 system? Characteristics of student writing associated with each developmental pattern strategiees presented along with illustrative examples.

Kurfiss, Joanne Gainen

Graduate assistants evaluated each group’s essay typically six per lab section and assigned an initial grade based on the thesis-based essay rubric. Please review our privacy policy. In his extensive review of writing research, Rivard indicated that gaps in writing research limit its inferential scope, particularly within the sciences. A matter of style: Finally, the instructor covariable was used to account for performance differences due to individual teaching styles. The observation that students who come to general education biology with greater critical thinking skills leave with the largest skill gains has important implications for the K—12 school system as well.

Peer-group learning in higher education: Essay responses to thought questions were answered using a standard five-paragraph format. Specifically, significant changes in student tendency to seek truth and confidence in thinking critically occurred during the junior and senior years.

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking