These behavioral tendencies also align closely with behaviors considered to be important in science. One also has to consider that the critical thinking gains seen in the writing group might also have resulted from the relative absence of traditional lab instruction rather than writing alone. 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. Reopening inquiry into cognitive processes in writing-to-learn. In their longitudinal study of behavioral disposition toward critical thinking, Giancarlo and Facione discovered that undergraduate critical thinking disposition changed significantly after two years.

Either way, changes to the traditional model of lab instruction will be necessary if the goal is to enhance the critical thinking abilities of general education biology students. Demographics profile for the study sample. Articles and authors are as follows: Average weekly performance during the academic term is shown in Figure 4. 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.

The ANCOVA test of total critical thinking skill indicated that gender, ethnicity, age, class standing, and academic term did not significantly affect critical thinking performance see Table 2.

Critical thinking performance was affected by prior analysis, inference, and evaluation skill CCTST component pretest scores and instructor see Table 4.

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking

Although academics cirtical business professionals consider critical thinking skill to be a crucial outcome of higher education, many would have difficulty defining exactly what critical thinking is.

Research Findings and Recommendations. George Washington University; Although the Ebert-May study is one of the more complete investigations of writing and critical thinking to date, several questions remain. It is possible that a more diverse sample would encourwge produced different results, or it may be that the individuals participating in this study responded particularly well to writing.

All faculty and graduate assistants met regularly to discuss course progress, laboratory procedure, and coordinate resources. As it appears that particular instructors improve student critical thinking skills more than others, students should be discerning in their choice of instructors if they want to improve their critical thinking skills. Education and Learning To Think. Transforming America’s Scientific and Technological Infrastructure: Two different instructors taught five writing sections and five other instructors taught 11 traditional sections over three consecutive quarters.


This preliminary study provided some evidence that undergraduate critical thinking skills could be measurably improved within an academic thunking, but provided no information about whether critical thinking skills could be changed during a shorter academic quarter.

The resulting discussion tjinking a skepticism about such tests, while students may have previously accepted intelligence tests at face value. Statistical Assumptions Analysis of covariance and multivariate analysis of covariance tests were used to compare critical thinking performance between the writing and nonwriting groups.

Teaching Critical Thinking

Collectively, the benefits of using writing in laboratory should encourage faculty who want their students to learn to think critically to give it a try. 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.

Handbook of Research on Science Teaching and Learning. Specifically, significant changes in student tendency to seek truth and confidence in thinking critically occurred during the junior and senior years.

Kurfiss, Joanne Gainen [WorldCat Identities]

National Council of Teachers of English; Interview data indicated that students experiencing the writing and collaboration-based instruction changed how they perceived the construction of biological knowledge and how they applied their reasoning skills.

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.

The analysis of total critical thinking skill indicated that writing students changed their critical thinking skill from below the national average to above the national average within an academic quarter, whereas nonwriting students remained below the national average. By focusing on instructional efforts that develop critical thinking skills, it may be possible to increase student performance while satisfying national stakeholder calls for educational improvement and increased ability to solve problems as engaged and productive citizens.

Considering multiple perspectives requires students to leave behind their own opinions when they cannot support them with facts Based on the results of this study, it could be argued that traditional lab instruction actually prevents the development of critical thinking skills, which presents a rather large problem when one considers how frequently these traditional methods are used in general education biology courses.


Purpose of the Study Currently there is much national discussion about increasing the numbers of students majoring in various science fields National Research Council, ; National Academy of Sciences, For example, a project on the Cuban Missile Crisis that asks students to consider the crisis from the American, Soviet, and Cuban points of view encourages students to consider other interpretations.

If critical thinking skills change during an academic quarter, when does that take place?

kurfiss strategies to encourage critical thinking

How does it help you? In particular, goal three of the National Goals for Education stated that more students should be able to kurifss, solve problems, and apply knowledge.

These results showed that students produced little evidence of critical thinking skill in their writing early in the term, but improved dramatically on both initial and revised essay submissions by the end of the term.

Kurfiss, Joanne Gainen

Several statistical analyses were conducted to determine the effects of writing on critical thinking performance in general education biology. The CCTST measures cognitive skills of analysis, inference, evaluation, induction, and deduction, with results expressed as raw scores or national percentile equivalents based on a national norming sample of students from 4-yr colleges kudfiss universities.

Only scores from students who had completed both the initial pretest and end-of-quarter posttest critical thinking assessments were included in the data analysis. Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century; The decision to use collaborative groups to support writing in the laboratory was partly based on existing literature Collier, ; Bruffee, ; Tobin et al.