Writing Science Through Critical Thinking

Like most educators, one of my central aims is to impart critical thinking skills— to help students make sound decisions in a confusing world of conflicting information, sales pitches, and smooth-talking politicians.

Though critical thinking is universally regarded as a pillar of higher education (including by employers seeking college graduates), results show that students are not developing their critical thinking skills to the extent we expect.

Where standalone critical thinking courses exist, however, they are mostly found within the humanities and social sciences.

Those courses often center on argumentation and literary criticism, or instead on the philosophy of logic, but there are opportunities to expand this— particularly by giving science a larger presence.

In an introductory Earth science course, my first job is to teach my students about plate tectonics, soil formation, oceanic and atmospheric processes, the climate system—all the things that comprise a firm foundation to build on in further classes.

But the vast majority of my students will never take another Earth science course, and while this information is still useful in their lives (a point on which they may not particularly agree in the moment), there are more important things to be teaching them.

As a university student, you are required to write in many different forms for a variety of audiences.

The most common types of writing are academic assignments, such as essays, research papers, and business or lab reports.

Prerequisite: General knowledge of biology or biomedicine.

Through class exercises students will gain understanding of the peer review process and will develop skills required to write critiques of manuscripts and research proposals.


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