Using Literature and Innovative Assessments to Ignite Interest and Cultivate Critical Thinking Skills in an Undergraduate Neuroscience Course
Science education reform initiatives emphasize 1) the value of concepts over facts; 2) the benefits of open-ended, inquiry-based problem-solving rather than protocols leading to a single correct answer; and 3) the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to teaching that is not confined by departmental boundaries. Neuroscientists should be at the forefront of this movement by the very nature of the discipline we study. Neuroscience is a relatively new field that integrates diverse subjects (anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, molecular biology, computer science, and psychology) and experimental advances are constantly changing and expanding our understanding of brain function. How can we convey this excitement in the classroom? The project described in this article uses nonscientific literature to introduce a scientific topic of study. In addition, the multitask assignment requires the acquisition of content knowledge and the development of critical thinking skills. As students explore the topic from multiple perspectives, they recognize the interconnectedness of science and society and confront ethical and moral issues related to science. A comparison of exam scores, essay responses, engagement level, as well as students’ own reflections, demonstrates that inclusion of the project does not sacrifice content knowledge, rather it enhances the overall learning process.
Lynd-Balta, Eileen (2006). "Using Literature and Innovative Assessments to Ignite Interest and Cultivate Critical Thinking Skills in an Undergraduate Neuroscience Course." CBE--Life Sciences Education 5.2, 167-174.
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