Critical Thinking in the Middle School Science Classroom

By Thelma M. Gunn and Guy A. Pomahac.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Previous research has demonstrated the value of student discussions of biomedical ethical issues in middle school education. Not only do students develop an awareness of current issues in the media associated with medicine and biogenetics, they begin to understand the complexities of ethical decision-making itself. However, few studies, if any, explore the relationships between bioethical issues analysis, and a specific set of critical thinking (CT) skills and in the science classroom. This study consisted of two middle school science classrooms and approximately 50 students. One classroom received instruction in guided critical thinking question construction, while the other was simply instructed to create unguided critical thinking questions. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The results were that students in the experimental condition created significantly more high-level critical thinking questions than students in the control condition. Therefore, this study has provided additional findings that further our understandings of how guided critical thinking, using bioethical issues and questioning strategies, can improve students’ CT skills and attitudes in middle school science classrooms.

Keywords: Critical Thinking, Expository Text Comprehension, Bioethical Dilemmas, Middle School Science Classroom

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 7, pp.239-248. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 642.154KB).

Dr. Thelma M. Gunn

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Thelma Gunn, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology in the Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge. Her main research interests include research methods, assessment and evaluation, expository text comprehension, critical thinking, learning processes, and motivation. She teaches both in the undergraduate teacher education program as well as in the counseling psychology graduate program.

Guy A. Pomahac

Faculty Associate, Faculty of Education, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

Guy Pomahac, M.Ed. has been an educator for the past 25 years. He is both a Faculty Associate and the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement (AISI) Liaison for Alberta Zone 6 Schools and the Faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge. His research interests include: science curriculum development, critical thinking, teacher workload, teacher development and At-Risk Students. Guy is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Curriculum, Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary.


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