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Critical Thinking Resources

Articles on Teaching Critical Thinking in S.T.E.M.

  1. Ahern, A., O'Connor, T., McRuairc, G., McNamara, M., & O'Donnell, D. (2012). Critical thinking in the university curriculum--the impact on engineering education. European Journal of Engineering Education, 37(2), 125-132. DOI: 10.1080/03043797.2012.666516

    This article analyzes how different disciplines go about teaching and define critical thinking within their courses through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with instructors. Discusses how analysis of student work and module descriptors led to the development of a cross-disciplinary model of critical thinking.

  2. Atanasov, R. Doguel, T. & Lawson, J.  (2013). Senior Capstone Seminar: A Comprehensive Learning Experience. PRIMUS, 23(4), 392-402 doi: 10.1080/10511970.2012.748112

    Over the last four years of the senior capstone seminar at Western Carolina University, we have redesigned the course substantially to comply with our institutional Quality Enhancement Plan for engaged student learning and to follow the guidelines proposed by the Mathematical Association of America's Committee on Undergraduate Programs in Mathematics. The capstone course has been structured around critical student objectives representing recommendations from both initiatives.

  3. Casotti, G., Rieser-Danner, L., & Knabb, T. M. (2008). Successful implementation of inquiry-based physiology laboratories in undergraduate major and nonmajor courses. Advances in Physiology Education, 32(4), 286-296. DOI:

    Studies the effects of inquiry-based learning on critical-thinking & analytical-thinking as it is applied to a variety of physiology courses. The effects were evaluated through a mixture of formative (exams, presentations, reports) & summative (surveys, notebooks, and final projects) evaluations, with each form demonstrating marked improvements in the studied areas.

  4. Chapman, B. S. (2001). Emphasizing concepts and reasoning skills in introductory college molecular cell biology. International Journal of Science Education, 23(11), 1157-1176. PHYSICAL COPY AVAILABLE ON 2nd FLOOR OF STROZIER LIBRARY

    Shows results of a 2-year plan to incorporate critical thinking skills into introductory science classes.

  5. Chow, A. F., Woodford, K. C., & Maes, J. (2011). Deal or no deal: Using games to improve student learning, retention and decision-making. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 42(2), 259-264. DOI: 10.1080/0020739X.2010.519796

    Discusses the ability to increase student understanding and retention through alternative activities (games, exercises, simulations, etc). Applies this theory by creating a “deal or no deal” –like game for students to participate in utilizing their knowledge of statistics to foster critical thinking in the class.

  6. David, I., & Brown, J. A. (2012). Beyond statistical methods: Teaching critical thinking to first-year university students. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 43(8), 1057-1065. DOI: 10.1080/0020739X.2012.678901

    Discusses the changes made to a first-year statistics course allowing it to emphasize critical thinking, be more applicable to the variety of majors required to take it (beyond statistics majors), and promote alternative resources for practical statistics (online tutorials, excel, computer and web based skills, etc).

  7. Derry, S. J., Levin, J. R., Osana, H. P., Jones, M. S., & Peterson, M. (2000). Fostering students' statistical and scientific thinking: Lessons learned from an innovative college course. American Educational Research Journal, 37(3), 747-773. 

    Evaluates effectiveness of  innovative stats course meant to improve scientific & statistical reasoning of its students through quantitative & qualitative analyses.

  8. Duncan, M. B. (2010). Sage-grouse and coal-bed methane: Can they coexist within the powder river basin? Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 39, 53-62. 

    Takes a current environmental concern of depleting resources, rapid human population growth, and the need for sustainable energy, to provide instructors with online resources and classroom activities to help stimulate and develop active learning & critical thinking on the issue.

  9. Eppes, T. A., Milanovic, I., & Sweitzer, F. H. (2012). Strengthening capstone skills in STEM programs. Innovative Higher Education, 37(1), 3-10. DOI: 10.1007/s10755-011-9181-0

    Discusses the Improved Capstone (iCap) curricular strategy that is meant to introduce challenging & open-minded assignments that will foster cognitive learning. Utilizes scaffolding structure, dividing assignments into 3 modules (classical, trasitional, and design of experiment) with the intent of cultivating critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, teamwork, information literacy, design process, & communication.


  10. Fencl, H. S. (2010). Development of students' critical-reasoning skills through content-focused activities in a general education course. Journal of College Science Teaching, 39(5), 56.

    This study examines students using such focused activities and assignments made significantly higher gains on the Classroom Test of Scientific Reasoning compared with students using control activities and showed significant gains in their ability to critically read a science-based newspaper article.


  11. Friedel, C., Irani, T., Rudd, R., Gallo, M., Eckhardt, E., & Ricketts, J. (2008). Overtly Teaching Critical Thinking and Inquiry-Based Learning: A Comparison of Two Undergraduate Biotechnology Classes. Journal of agricultural education, 49(1), 72-84.

    The purpose of this study was to assess if overtly teaching for critical thinking, as a teaching method, contributed to explaining increases in critical thinking skill scores of undergraduate students enrolled in agricultural biotechnology.


  12. Gottesman, A. J., & Hoskins, S. G. (2013). CREATE cornerstone: Introduction to scientific thinking, a new course for STEM-interested freshmen, demystifies scientific thinking through analysis of scientific literature. CBE - Life Sciences Education, 12(1), 59-72 DOI: 10.1187/cbe.12-11-020

    Analyzes the intensive analysis, critical think, and content integration abilities of the Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret data, Think of the next Experiment (CREATE).

  13. Hsu, Y., & Thomas, R. A. (2002). The impacts of a web-aided instructional simulation on science learning. International Journal of Science Education, 24(9), 955-979. PHYSICAL COPY AVAILABLE ON THE 2nd FLOOR OF STROZIER LIBRARY

    Investigates the effects of selected characteristics of a web-aided instructional simulation on students' conceptual change, problem solving, and transfer abilities

  14. Jacques-Fricke, B. T., Hubert, A., & Miller, S. (2009). A versatile module to improve understanding of scientific literature through peer instruction. Journal of College Science Teaching, 39(2), 24-32.

    This article describes a "technique module" that uses peer teaching and active learning to facilitate integration of primary scientific literature into undergraduate courses 

  15. Lankford, D., & vom Saal, F. (2012). Converting a biology course into a writing-intensive capstone course: Using collaboration between a professor and graduate teaching assistant. Journal of College Science Teaching, 41(4), 14-22.

    Examines the nature of instructional tools, strategies, and assessments developed to turn a traditional biology course into a writing-intensive, capstone biology course. Focuses on (a) using writing as a learning strategy, (b) stimulating critical thinking through problem solving, (c) engaging students with primary scientific literature, (d) enhancing collaboration among students, and (e) using peer review and formative assessments to focus student thinking on learning and writing about biology.

  16. Liu, J., Pysarchik, D. T., & Taylor, W. W. (2002). Peer review in the classroom. Bioscience, 52(9), 824-829.

    Explains the importance of peer assessment in professional life and describes a course using peer review processes to teach modeling in natural resource management.

  17. Maskiewicz, A. C., Griscom, H. P., & Welch, N. T. (2012). Using targeted active-learning exercises and diagnostic question clusters to improve students' understanding of carbon cycling in ecosystems. CBE - Life Sciences Education, 11(1), 58-67. DOI: 10.1187/cbe.11-02-001

    This study uses targeted active-learning activities to help students improve their ways of reasoning about carbon flow in ecosystems

  18. Minerick, A. R. (2011). Journal club: A forum to encourage graduate and undergraduate research students to critically review the literature. Chemical Engineering Education, 45(1), 73-82.

    Uses the idea of a Journal Club to counteract literature lethargy and train beginning and continuing undergraduate and graduate researchers in a professor's research group to efficiently learn from and critique archival journal articles

  19. Roberts, J. (2009). An undergraduate journal club experience: A lesson in critical thinking. Journal of College Science Teaching, 38(3), 28-31.

    In an effort to better prepare undergraduate students to read and critically evaluate scientific literature, a journal club experience was introduced into a university's bachelor of science curriculum. As a result, students have been found to be more thoughtful, poised, and articulate presenters.

  20. Rodrigues, K. J. (2012). It does matter how we teach math. Journal of Adult Education, 41(1), 29-33. 

    Describes application of adult learning principles provide the theoretical constructs and foundation of the practice supporting a learner-centered approach to learning. Based on Knowles' six assumptions of andragogy, curriculum was designed to provide college math students meaningful learning experiences, critical thinking skills, and application within the context of the classroom

  21. Sampson, V., & Grooms, J. (2010). Generate an argument: An instructional model. Science Teacher, 77(5), 32-37. 

    The Generate an Argument instructional model was designed to engage students in scientific argumentation.By using this model, students develop complex reasoning and critical-thinking skills, understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge, and improve their communication skills.  

  22. Scott, S. (2008). Perceptions of students’ learning critical thinking through debate in a technology classroom: a case study.

    The purpose of this study was to gather via questionnaires the perceptions of technology students on the debate process used in the classroom to increase critical thinking.

  23. VanDorn, D., Ravalli, M. T., Small, M. M., Hillery, B., & Andreescu, S. (2011). Adsorption of Arsenic by Iron Oxide Nanoparticles: A Versatile, Inquiry-Based Laboratory for a High School or College Science Course. Journal of Chemical Education, 88(8), 1119-1122. doi: 10.1021/ed100010c

    This Study discusses an inquiry-based laboratory has been developed that illustrates these unique properties of magnetite nanoparticles while developing cross-disciplinary and critical-thinking skills.

  24. Wenk, L., & Tronsky, L. (2011). First-year students benefit from reading primary research articles. Journal of College Science Teaching, 40(4), 60-67. 

    This article describes the pedagogy used in scientific inquiry and demonstrates that first-year students can make considerable progress in critically evaluating the research literature.

  25. Wong, G. K. (2011). Look beyond textbooks: Information literacy for first-year science students. Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, (65) 

    This paper describes classroom activities to help students understand the publication cycle and the characteristics of major publication channels (textbooks, books, encyclopedias, and periodicals) for first-year physics students.

  26. Yadav, A., & Beckerman, J. L. (2009). Implementing case studies in a plant pathology course: Impact on student learning and engagement. Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, 38, 50-55. 

    This study evaluated the influence of the case teaching method on students' problem-solving and critical thinking skills in an undergraduate plant pathology course by utilizing both traditional lecture-based teaching as well as case study methodology.

  27. Yadav, A., Lundeberg, M., DeSchryver, M., Dirkin, K., Schiller, N. A., Maier, K., & Herreid, C. F. (2007). Teaching science with case studies: A national survey of faculty perceptions of the benefits and challenges of using cases. Journal of College Science Teaching, 37(1), 34-38. 

    Provides evidence that, overall, faculty think cases have a positive impact on student learning, critical thinking, and participation

  28. Zipp, Genevieve Pinto Zipp, and Cathy Maher. "Use of video-based cases as a medium to develop critical thinking skills in health science students." Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC) 7.1 (2010).

    Provides data on student perceptions of usefulness of the video based case experience in promoting their ability to organize, prioritize, and integrate content knowledge for the development of effective critical thinking skills.

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