SCIENCE AND NON-SCIENCE UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS’ CRITICAL THINKING AND ARGUMENTATION PERFORMANCE IN READING A SCIENCE NEWS REPORT
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A scientifically literate person should be able to engage and critique science news reports about socioscientific issues from a variety of information sources. Such engagement involves critical thinking and argumentation skills to determine if claims made are justified by evidence and explained by reasonable explanations. This study explored university students’ critical thinking performance when they read science news reports. Undergraduate science/applied science (n = 52) and non-science (n = 52) majors were asked to select a science news report from Internet sources and then to read, critique, and make comments about its contents. The science and non-science majors’ comments and their quality were identified and assessed in terms of analyzing the argument elements—claims and warrants, counterclaims and warrants, rebuttals, qualifiers, and evidence. The results indicated there is significant difference in identifying and formulating evidence favoring science/applied science over non-science majors (p < .01). Quality of critical thinking associated with the strength of the arguments made indicated that science/applied science majors demonstrate significantly (p < 0.05) more advanced patterns than non-science majors. The results suggest that further studies into improving undergraduates’ concepts of evidence in the context of reading and critiquing science news reports are needed.
Key wordsargumentation skills critical thinking science news reports university students
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