Teaching Critical Thinking to First-Year Medical Students through Concept Mapping

Teaching Critical Thinking to First-Year Medical Students through Concept Mapping

Amina Sadik (Touro University Nevada, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5816-5.ch009


Helping students learn the basic sciences and demonstrating their importance in the practice of medicine presents a challenge for the majority of medical science educators. A curriculum change of medical biochemistry was implemented to include concept mapping as a visual strategy to enhance the analytical and critical thinking skills during clinical case-based workshops. A rubric was used to give detailed feedback and provide guidance to students. A number of clinical cases were judiciously selected to illustrate specific topics. Students meet with a faculty member to discuss the concept map prior to the workshop. During such meetings, all members are asked to participate in explaining their reasoning and decision-making and to thereby justify the flow of the concept map. This activity gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity to visualize their knowledge using the concept map construction.
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Concept Mapping A Powerful Tool For Teaching Critical Thinking

The goal of using concept mapping as a teaching tool is to demonstrate to students that there is a way to visualize knowledge and to think critically through a medical problem using principles acquired in the classroom. It trains students from the start to be responsible for their learning and enables them to become self-motivated, good team players and lifelong learners as medical knowledge and practice continue to evolve.

We chose concept mapping as a method to teach critical thinking in biochemistry because we believe in learning by doing. Concept maps foster understanding of the biochemical background of disease because their construction requires logical reasoning and critical thinking. In clinical case-based workshops, students are expected to construct a logical map, with “linking words” between concepts and “notes” that explain how altered biochemical pathways were responsible for a patient’s physical symptoms and abnormal lab results. Building a successful concept map requires (a) knowledge of the relevant biochemical concepts and (b) identification of correct hierarchical relationships among these concepts as well as between the concepts and the pathophysiological changes of the patient. Now that one of the core competencies in medicine education is reinforcing the teaching of evidence-based medicine, this concept mapping exercise introduces students to the physician thought process early in the curriculum.

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