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Abstract

It is generally accepted that critical thinking is an important and, likely, essential, component of success in college and beyond. Despite the unanimity, only a low percentage of students in the U.S. can demonstrate critical thinking proficiency on standardized exams. This phenomenon may result from instructors using a reductionist view of critical thinking and focusing on learning processes rather than on evaluation of intellectual resources. In general biology courses, I use a non-threatening, active-learning, group activities to promote critical thinking. For example, students are presented with an email from a member of the community and asked to formulate a response using the internet as their resource. I have found that using this non-threatening activity near the start of the semester promotes students’ acquisition of critical thinking skills and allows me to present assignments focusing on more controversial topics that require critical thinking later in the semester.

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