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written by N. G. Holmes, Carl E. Wieman, and Doug A. Bonn
The ability to make decisions based on data, with its inherent uncertainties and variability, is a complex and vital skill in the modern world. The need for such quantitative critical thinking occurs in many different contexts, and although it is an important goal of education, that goal is seldom being achieved. We argue that the key element for developing this ability is repeated practice in making decisions based on data, with feedback on those decisions. We demonstrate a structure for providing suitable practice that can be applied in any instructional setting that involves the acquisition of data and relating that data to scientific models. This study reports the results of applying that structure in an introductory physics laboratory course. Students in an experimental condition were repeatedly instructed to make and act on quantitative comparisons between datasets, and between data and models, an approach that is common to all science disciplines. These instructions were slowly faded across the course. After the instructions had been removed, students in the experimental condition were 12 times more likely to spontaneously propose or make changes to improve their experimental methods than a control group, who performed traditional experimental activities. The students in the experimental condition were also four times more likely to identify and explain a limitation of a physical model using their data. Students in the experimental condition also showed much more sophisticated reasoning about their data. These differences between the groups were seen to persist into a subsequent course taken the following year.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Volume 112, Issue 36, Pages 11199-11204
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- General
Education - Applied Research
- Active Learning
= Inquiry Learning
- Curriculum Development
= Course
- Learning Environment
General Physics
- Scientific Reasoning
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license.
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N.G. Holmes, Carl Wieman, Doug A. Bonn
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created August 6, 2020 by Sam McKagan
Record Updated:
June 15, 2022 by Caroline Hall
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when Cataloged:
August 18, 2015
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AIP Format
N. Holmes, C. Wieman, and D. Bonn, , Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112 (36), 11199 (2015), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112).
N. Holmes, C. Wieman, and D. Bonn, Teaching critical thinking, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112 (36), 11199 (2015), <https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112>.
APA Format
Holmes, N., Wieman, C., & Bonn, D. (2015, August 18). Teaching critical thinking. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 112(36), 11199-11204. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112
Chicago Format
Holmes, N, C. Wieman, and D. Bonn. "Teaching critical thinking." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112, no. 36, (August 18, 2015): 11199-11204, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112 (accessed 22 May 2024).
MLA Format
Holmes, Natasha G., Carl Wieman, and Doug Bonn. "Teaching critical thinking." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 112.36 (2015): 11199-11204. 22 May 2024 <https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Natasha G. Holmes and Carl Wieman and Doug Bonn", Title = {Teaching critical thinking}, Journal = {Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.}, Volume = {112}, Number = {36}, Pages = {11199-11204}, Month = {August}, Year = {2015} }
Refer Export Format

%A Natasha G. Holmes %A Carl Wieman %A Doug Bonn %T Teaching critical thinking %J Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. %V 112 %N 36 %D August 18, 2015 %P 11199-11204 %U https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112 %O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Holmes, Natasha G. %A Wieman, Carl %A Bonn, Doug %D August 18, 2015 %T Teaching critical thinking %J Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. %V 112 %N 36 %P 11199-11204 %8 August 18, 2015 %U https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1505329112

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