Science is about experimentation, creativity, even play. The greatest breakthroughs have come from those who pushed the known limits to ask why, how, and ultimately what if. If we do, Natasha G. Holmes studies the teaching and learning of physics, especially in lab courses, but her work is applicable more broadly across many disciplines. As a loftier, long-term goal, how can we provide students with transferable skills that will make them critical thinkers and good citizens? To shed light on those questions, Holmes is working on a project funded by the National Science Foundation to design a tool that can assess critical thinking.
3 Simple Habits to Improve Your Critical Thinking
The good news is that critical thinking is a learned behavior. There are three simple things you can do to train yourself to become a more effective critical thinker: question assumptions, reason through logic, and diversify your thought and perspectives. They may sound obvious, but deliberately cultivating these three key habits of mind go a long way in helping you become better at clear and robust reasoning. A few years ago, a CEO assured me that his company was the market leader. Sometimes they reach out because they have been mismanaged.
Center for Research on Teaching Excellence
College coursework requires students to use their critical thinking skills in order to succeed in classes. Current culture in higher education assumes that students arrive to college with a well developed set of critical thinking skills or that they are able to develop the necessary skills on their own. This assumption is especially evident in science coursework, where the students are asked to use their critical thinking on everyday basis doing lab work, solving the problems , but are rarely taught how. The lack of these skills puts students at a great disadvantage. First generation students are especially at a disadvantage because they usually arrive to college less prepared than their peers from families where parents have had some college education.
Physicists at Stanford and the University of British Columbia have found that encouraging students to repeatedly make decisions about data collected during introductory lab courses improves their critical thinking skills. Students who gather their own data and make their own decisions in a simple pendulum experiment gain critical thinking skills that are useful in later physics courses, according to research at Stanford and the University of British Columbia. Introductory lab courses are ubiquitous in science education, but there has been little evidence of how or whether they contribute to learning.