About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2342-2351
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1485

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

CRITICAL THINKING FROM BIOSCIENCE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVE: A MIXED METHOD RESEARCH STUDY

A.A. Battaglia

King's College London (UNITED KINGDOM)
This paper explores Bioscience Undergraduate (UG) students’ perceptions and understanding of what critical thinking is. The rationale being a gap in the current and past literature on critical thinking (CT): students’ voice is seldom heard; most papers on the topic present the views of academics and not those of students.
The main objectives of this pilot study are: 1) find out what students think critical thinking is in the context of their current and previous studies and 2) assessing CT skills in final year Bioscience UG students.
A mixed method research design was used: quantitative (a standardized survey called Assessment of Critical Thinking Ability – ACTA– devised by White, 2011) and qualitative (focus groups). The rationale for using a mixed method design was to look for a possible relationship between students’ scores in standardized questionnaires measuring CT skills and students’ ideas and perceptions of CT.
Critical abilities tested in the ACTA survey are: 1) integrating studies presenting opposite/conflicting views; 2) designing experiments to resolve uncertainties and ambiguities; 3) imagining possible alternative interpretations to the causes of a Disease X. The survey is designed to generate quantitative data with 4 being the maximum overall score; four questions out of eleven allow for open-ended answers (some of the 480 open-ended answers were also qualitatively evaluated; results will be presented in my Master in Academic Practice dissertation).
Focus groups were carried out with 23 final year UG students in either BSc Biomedical Science or other BSc Programme specification at King’s College London (KCL, UK); they were amongst 127 students who had previously answered the ACTA survey. In the focus groups students participated in activities whose aim was to allow them discussing about their perceptions and understanding of CT, saying how they developed CT skills in schools and at university and if they saw themselves as becoming critical thinkers in science. Results of this study were the following: 1) an overall combined score of two out of four in the ACTA survey; this score showed that the participating student cohorts, who were almost close to graduation, did not engage critically with the data given to them; in particular, they found hard to design experiments to resolve flaws in studies; 2) findings from the focus groups gave a mixed picture but overall validate the ACTA survey result. They suggest that: students come to university with a variable level of CT and critical analysis skills, if any; many students find hard to clearly explain how CT can be defined and would like to receive a clear instruction from their lecturers on how to develop CT skills; many students do not think developing CT is a top priority in secondary school or at university mainly due to pressures to learn to pass exams via rote learning or Multiple Choice Questions. The students’ perception of CT, which they have developed during their scientific studies, is ‘to spot what is wrong’. In conclusion it can be said that the factual-based syllabus students are mostly exposed in school and at university hinders the development of critical analysis and evaluation of scientific findings. The research findings will enable me and possibly other faculty members to try and find common grounds with the students at the start of the forthcoming academic years, hoping to reach a shared meaning of CT; this in turn will improve academic practice at KCL.
@InProceedings{BATTAGLIA2017CRI,
author = {Battaglia, A.A.},
title = {CRITICAL THINKING FROM BIOSCIENCE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVE: A MIXED METHOD RESEARCH STUDY},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.1485},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.1485},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {2342-2351}}
TY - CONF
AU - A.A. Battaglia
TI - CRITICAL THINKING FROM BIOSCIENCE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVE: A MIXED METHOD RESEARCH STUDY
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1485
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 2342
EP - 2351
ER -
A.A. Battaglia (2017) CRITICAL THINKING FROM BIOSCIENCE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ PERSPECTIVE: A MIXED METHOD RESEARCH STUDY, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 2342-2351.
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