Title

A set of vertically integrated inquiry-based practical curricula that develop scientific thinking skills for large cohorts of undergraduate students

Department

Natural Sciences

Document Type

Article

Publication Source

American Journal of Physiology - Advances in Physiology Education

Publication Date

2013-12-01

Volume

37

Issue

4

First Page

303

Last Page

315

Abstract

A set of vertically integrated inquiry-based practical curricula that developscientific thinking skills for large cohorts of undergraduate students. AdvPhysiol Educ 37: 303-315, 2013; doi:10.1152/advan.00082.2012.-Science graduates require critical thinking skills to deal with thecomplex problems they will face in their 21st century workplaces.Inquiry-based curricula can provide students with the opportunities todevelop such critical thinking skills; however, evidence suggests thatan inappropriate level of autonomy provided to underprepared studentsmay not only be daunting to students but also detrimental totheir learning. After a major review of the Bachelor of Science, wedeveloped, implemented, and evaluated a series of three verticallyintegrated courses with inquiry-style laboratory practicals for earlystageundergraduate students in biomedical science. These practicalcurricula were designed so that students would work with increasingautonomy and ownership of their research projects to develop increasinglyadvanced scientific thinking and communication skills. Studentsundertaking the first iteration of these three vertically integratedcourses reported learning gains in course content as well as skills inscientific writing, hypothesis construction, experimental design, dataanalysis, and interpreting results. Students also demonstrated increasingskills in both hypothesis formulation and communication of findingsas a result of participating in the inquiry-based curricula andcompleting the associated practical assessment tasks. Here, we reportthe specific aspects of the curricula that students reported as havingthe greatest impact on their learning and the particular elements of hypothesis formulation and communication of findings that were morechallenging for students to master. These findings provide importantimplications for science educators concerned with designing curriculato promote scientific thinking and communication skills alongsidecontent acquisition. © 2013 The American Physiological Society.

Keywords

Laboratory teaching, Scientific reasoning, Student autonomy, Student-directed research, Written communication skills

DOI

10.1152/advan.00082.2012

https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00082.2012

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