P521: Thinking for life: Developing critical thinkers using the Science Writing Heuristic approach
Emphasis on the development of transferable skills is a major way of assuring sustainable development in education. Critical thinking skills is one such set of skills, the development of which helps us to better access and use our knowledge capacity through building thinking capacity. Once developed and practised, critical thinking skills will serve us for a lifetime. Many college faculty consider critical thinking as not only an essential skill for graduates, but also one of the most important indicators of student learning. The Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) is a teaching and learning tool which combines writing, inquiry, collaboration and reflection, and provides scaffolding for the development of critical thinking skills. The SWH was implemented in two of ten first year chemistry laboratory sections. The critical thinking skills of first year students were assessed using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) and the scores of SWH participants were compared with those of their counterparts in ‘traditional’ laboratory sections, as well as with the scores of final year students who were not exposed to the SWH. The results and implications of the study are discussed.