THE EMPLOYMENT OF DISCUSSION FORUMS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH-ORDER THINKING SKILLS

Competence-Based Learning (CBL) offers a new educational approach centered in the student’s acquisition of those key competences essential in students’ personal career. In this context, the Analytic and Synthetic Thinking is one of the most valued competences in Science Grades. On the other hand, Asyncronous Learning Networks (ALNs) have been recently considered as powerful tools within a b-learning context, to facilitate an effective student-centered learning process. Wikis, blogs and discussion forums have opened an interesting way of constructive interaction between students and instructors. Particularly, forums of discussion offer, in addition, the possibility to share different points of view about a concrete topic of interest, where the role of the instructor, now is to moderate and facilitate the interaction in the on-line learning environment. In this context, discussion forums are a fertile ground for the development of High-Order Thinking Skills, if delivered accurately during the course.
In this paper, we report the results obtained in the development and assessment of the competence “Analytic and Synthetic Thinking” through discussion forums employing the Blackboard Learnign System as institutional Learning Management System (LMS). The experience was carried out with first-year students on a chemistry subject in the Energy Engineering degree at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and clearly allowed enhancing students’ participation and engagement in learning activities. Additionally, the activity has fostered cooperation and collaboration between students, facilitating their mutual support in order to face problems of understanding or analyze basic concepts. This scenario has also provided opportunities for debate and conversational learning about interesting chemistry topics, which has served as motivation and an appropriate media to share their thoughts and ideas. The results of the experience were markedly successful in view of the higher index of passed students in comparison with previous courses.