Descriptive statistics of total critical thinking performance in the writing and nonwriting groups were also calculated see Table 3. No statistically significant gains in evaluation skill were observed in either group see Table 5. The National Education Goals. Conversely, the lack of any significant change in analysis, inference, or evaluation skills in the nonwriting group indicated that the traditional lab instruction used in the general education biology control courses did not help students develop critical thinking skills. Student Thought Question Performance Critical thinking performance on student essays was evaluated by applying a thesis-based essay rubric see Supplemental Appendix 2 on initial submissions and final revised essays. It also seems likely that writing students experienced a greater cognitive demand than nonwriting students simply because the writing act required them to hypothesize, debate, and persuade Rivard, ; Hand and Prain, rather than memorize as was the case in nonwriting control courses. A—D Frequency distribution of change in critical thinking skills.

Specifically, writing within disciplines is thought to require deeper analytical thinking Langer and Applebee, , which is closely aligned with critical thinking. Although this is a necessary and worthwhile goal, attention should also be focused on improving student performance in general education science because these students will far outnumber science majors for the foreseeable future. Although academics and business professionals consider critical thinking skill to be a crucial outcome of higher education, many would have difficulty defining exactly what critical thinking is. Demographics profile for the study sample. Further analysis of the writing group showed that the largest gains in critical thinking occurred during the first few weeks of the term, with graduated improvement during the remainder of the term. In this study, the effect of writing on critical thinking performance was investigated using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test CCTST at the beginning pretest and end posttest of 10 sections of general education biology at a regional comprehensive university in the Pacific Northwest.

By the end of the term, writing students had improved their critical thinking skill to above the 52nd percentile whereas nonwriting students decreased to below the 40th percentile. Graduate assistants evaluated each group’s essay typically six per lab section and assigned an initial grade based on the thesis-based essay rubric.


Several covariables were included in the analysis to increase statistical accuracy and precision, and to more specifically isolate the effects of writing on ecnourage thinking performance.

Within this schematic, knowledge must be organized and also accessible Applebee suggested that writing improves thinking because it requires an individual to make his or her ideas explicit and to evaluate and choose among tools necessary for effective discourse. This definition implies that critical thinking is an intentional, self-regulated process that provides strategiex mechanism for solving problems and making decisions based on reasoning and logic, which is particularly useful when dealing with issues of national and global significance.

Ease them into the process by asking them to describe a character using a metaphor.

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking

Collectively, these statistical tests allowed for a more accurate and precise analysis because variance associated with the covariables could be more specifically isolated from the writing treatment. Interviews of faculty from the writing and nonwriting groups indicated that writing faculty felt the course was less work because they collaborated with colleagues and because students demonstrated improved thinking skill.

Kurfiss provides Jane S.

NCTE research report no. Effects of small-group learning on undergraduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology: Fostering thinking across the curriculum through knowledge restructuring. In the past several years, an increasing number of national reports indicate a growing concern over the effectiveness of higher education teaching practices and the decreased science and math performance of U. 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?

Analysis of covariance for the writing and nonwriting groups. Further study of writing in general education science will be necessary to verify these results and discover the breadth and depth of how writing critixal critical thinking skill.

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking

Specifically, writing within disciplines is thought to require deeper analytical thinking Langer and Applebee,which is closely aligned with critical thinking. Pretest scores indicating prior critical thinking skill were also used to further establish comparability between the writing and nonwriting groups.


Teaching Critical Thinking | Graduate Connections | Nebraska

The observation that students who come to general education biology with greater critical thinking skills leave with critidal largest skill gains has important implications for the K—12 school system as well. Finally, the instructor covariable was used to account for performance differences criical to individual teaching styles.

American Association for the Advancement of Science; Finally, Tessier showed that students enrolled in a nonmajors ecology course significantly improved writing technical skills and committed fewer errors of fact regarding environmental issues in response to a writing treatment. The effect of instructor was smaller, accounting for 4.

Each of the studies described above peripherally supports a relationship between writing and critical thinking. How might writing in general education biology affect the analysis, inference, and evaluation skills that are inherent to critical thinking? Initial work focused on how the recursive and reflective nature of the writing process contributes to student learning Applebee, ; Langer and Applebee,; Ackerman, If critical thinking skills change during an academic quarter, when does that take place?

The professor does not tell students how to solve the problem, but asks questions that help the students approach and solve the problem on their own.

Teaching Critical Thinking

The variable that had the largest impact on critical thinking performance gains was prior critical thinking skill. Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing-to-learn.

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking

Determining the particular qualities of each instructor that contributed to student critical thinking success and further separating instructor and writing effects will require additional research.

Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century; National Science Foundation; A logical basis for measuring critical thinking skills.