Measuring Experimental Design Ability: A Test to Probe Critical Thinking

by Sieberg, Jennifer Lynn

Abstract (Summary)
Critical thinking is something of value for all. The educational system has been putting an emphasis on students' development of critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is a self-regulating, intellectual process of purposefully analyzing and evaluating all available information in order to formulate a well reasoned conclusion. Scientific thinking is critical thinking that involves the use of the scientific method, a method used to validate scientific knowledge, in order to study or investigate nature or the universe (Schafersman 1994). Science educators can facilitate the development of scientific thinking skills through scientific inquiry. What better way to experience scientific inquiry than through the design and implementation of experiments? "Developing the ability to design an experiment is critical to understanding of the scientific process and in promoting critical thinking skills. This skill can be developed if students are allowed to work like scientists"(Garcia, 1999). The purpose of this research is to design, implement and determine the effectiveness of our test for experimental design ability, a form of scientific thinking, in an introductory biology course, through the use of the Experimental Design Ability Test (EDAT). We chose to assess experimental design ability due to the scientific and critical thinking skills that are involved in the design process and because it is applicable to students' everyday lives. Our findings indicate that the EDAT is sensitive to improvements in experimental design ability, as students exposed to student-designed laboratories made significant gains in their experimental design abilities, whereas those who were not did not yield gains.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Bowling Green State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:critical thinking scientific experimental design ability


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

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