Teaching critical thinking
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Dr Natasha Holmes, Professor Carl Wieman and Professor Doug Bonn

In this research piece the authors argue that the key element for developing critical thinking skills is repeated practice of making decisions based on data, and receiving feedback on those decisions. They argue that making decisions based on data, with its inherent uncertainties and variability, is a complex and vital skill in the modern world and that the need for quantitative critical thinking occurs in many different contexts. Although it is an important goal of education, it is a goal that is seldom achieved.

The research presents a simple learning framework for teaching critical thinking, one that revolves around making decisions based on comparing data and models. With opportunities to improve the data, this framework is appropriate for use in any STEM lessons dealing with comparative data.

This framework led to significant and sustained improvement in pupils’ critical thinking behaviours when used for the research, with effects far beyond that of statistical significance.

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Dr Natasha Holmes, Professor Carl Wieman and Professor Doug Bonn

Published by:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS)

Date of publication:
August 2015

Country of origin:

CPD opportunities:

The research paper will be informative for STEM teachers keen to explore ways of getting their pupils’ to critically engage with the subjects and think outside of the box. 


Record ID:
R130 / 203
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