Critical Thinking in Science and Technology: Importance, Rationale, and Strategies

Critical Thinking in Science and Technology: Importance, Rationale, and Strategies

David Florius Samuel (Providence Secondary School, Barbados)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7829-1.ch010
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From as far back as the 1980s, many researchers have cited the importance of critical thinking in the citizens of modern societies. Given this importance, the merits of including critical thinking as a major objective at various levels of the education system and in different subject areas of the school curriculum have been extensively argued. This chapter focuses on science and technology curricula and rationalizes the need for changes both in the development as well as the implementation of the curriculum to facilitate the promotion of critical thinking skills in students. There is also an extensive discussion of particular instructional approaches and strategies needed to facilitate this.
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This chapter will trace the development of critical thinking perspectives as occurring in tandem with the development of scientific inquiry from the time of the ancient Greek philosophers. Arguments will be raised that the development of human civilizations required critical thinking even from the earliest human beings. However, with the growth of the scientific enterprise, that thinking was targeted at making sense of natural phenomena as well as altering nature for the benefit of mankind and human civilizations. This way of thinking was formalized in different subject areas in schools and universities. The growth of science and technology, the consequent changes in society, and the impact of that growth on ordinary citizens meant that there was increasing need for higher order thinking skills among human populations. A response was called from the education systems around the world. However, evidence will be highlighted that despite the presence of critical thinking as a goal of many curriculum documents around the world, this has not translated to the kinds of critical thinking required in the general population. The chapter will focus on these responses with particular reference to science education. Arguments are raised for the need for curriculum changes as well as instructional changes in science if the goal of a critical thinking human population is to be realized.

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