Teaching information evaluation and critical thinking skills in physics classes

He and a global team of researchers at Informed Health Choices developed a study of some 10, Ugandan fifth-graders to see if a simple comic book on evaluating health claims could provide students with the skills to make better choices about their health. The comic book begins by describing how one child -- who has burned his finger -- sticks his wound into dung to heal it. The workbook had a convincing effect, Oxman said.

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The students who received the workbook and those who did not receive it were then tested on how to evaluate health claims. Fifty percent more children in the workbook group had a passing score on that critical thinking test. Twenty percent of the students receiving the workbook even showed mastery of the concepts. Responses so far have been very promising, he added. One girl talked about going shopping with her mom, who picked up an expensive new brand of toothpaste, but the girl picked up an older brand of toothpaste and found the ingredients were the same.

Where Did the Concept Come From?

During the pilot studies, Oxman said it was fun to see kids walking out of class talking to each other about claims. First students recognize a claim or a hypothesis.


Next, they look at evidence: the original data; who calculated the data; where the study was conducted; if the researcher would be inclined to benefit from a certain result; if researchers did multiple trials or tested on many people and more. Finally, students must come up with a response: a determination of the validity of the claim.

But teaching media literacy can also go into specific domains such as health and science. Through this curriculum, students learn how information is created and distributed. Digital citizenship and media literacy is often taught as something extra and not necessarily embedded in curriculum, said Knutson. However, health or science claims seen online can be easily incorporated into science or health class. One example Knutson provided was a recent New York Times article about health hazards of chemicals used in packaging such as boxed macaroni and cheese.

The study was financed by an environmental advocacy group, not an unbiased source. The Times reported on this study and other journalists reported on it and then reports about the reporting came out, noted Knutson. When Joyce really breaks a scientific topic into its component parts, she can sometimes convince skeptical students.

For instance, students were learning the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, which stems from water temperature and salt-level or salinity increases. They researched where the increased salinity or temperature could be coming from, including climate change and waste dumped near the ocean. Instead of rehashing the reef data, Joyce brought the conversation back to a different perspective and explained pH levels in the human body.

Even a slight change in pH could shut down a person's bodily functions. Subscribe to receive weekly updates of MindShift stories every Sunday. You'll also receive a carefully curated list of content from teacher-trusted sources. As GDCF explains, some of these critical thinking lessons are actually activities that place your students in the positions of discriminators or discriminated. Perhaps most importantly, many of these critical thinking lessons teach students how to disagree respectfully, empowering multiple students to arrive at multiple conclusions without the threat of being personally critiqued for their thoughts.

Overall, these lessons teach more than just critical thinking — they teach collaboration, cooperation, and even respect. Teachers create their lesson plans, place them on the TpT marketplace, and let other teachers purchase the plans for a nominal fee.

Information Literacy in the Disciplines: Physics | Instruction Section Website

Some teachers may create lecture-based lessons that work well in traditional classrooms. Others might include a few videos to make their lesson more diverse in terms of content. Still others might write a script for student role-playing that takes an entire class period. The Morningisde Center is a community-focused non-profit organization that strives to increase ethnic equity in schools while promoting social and emotional skills. The Believing Game entails you giving your students a powerful quote or excerpt on a controversial topic, like civil disobedience.

You can also wrap this into The Doubting Game, which requires a similar preparation process of showing students an impactful quote or thought. Then, you have students question the thought.

Information Literacy in the Disciplines: Physics

They can ask literal questions, pose counterpoints, and otherwise pursue a critical viewpoint. Regardless of how you have to workshop the concepts, The Believing Game and The Doubting Game are two excellent additions to a critical thinking curriculum. We Are Teachers is a well-known online education publication with thousands of readers every month. They have a variety of writers create blog posts and articles for them, including one on tips to make students critical thinkers. As opposed to the other items on this list, this blog post from We Are Teachers consists of general guidelines you can employ in a critical thinking curriculum.

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It also emphasizes a few ideas for prep work, like creating charts, planning classroom discussions, and figuring out thought-provoking questions before class begins. We Are Teachers summarizes each of these tips with a handful of sentences, which is both good and bad. Top 7 Critical Thinking Lesson Plans. Heads up : This website contains ads. Then, you have students think of supports and critiques.

Simple, right? Morningside Center offers a whole lot of examples that you can use directly with your students.

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Depending on your grade level, you may need to tweak the examples or find new ones entirely. Want to check it out for yourself?