Explicitly Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in a History Course
- 3k Downloads
Critical thinking skills are often assessed via student beliefs in non-scientific ways of thinking, (e.g, pseudoscience). Courses aimed at reducing such beliefs have been studied in the STEM fields with the most successful focusing on skeptical thinking. However, critical thinking is not unique to the sciences; it is crucial in the humanities and to historical thinking and analysis. We investigated the effects of a history course on epistemically unwarranted beliefs in two class sections. Beliefs were measured pre- and post-semester. Beliefs declined for history students compared to a control class and the effect was strongest for the honors section. This study provides evidence that a humanities education engenders critical thinking. Further, there may be individual differences in ability or preparedness in developing such skills, suggesting different foci for critical thinking coursework.
KeywordsCritical Thinking Demand Characteristic Belief Change Critical Thinking Skill Conspiracy Theory
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This research was approved by the North Carolina State University IRB and informed consent was obtained from all participants.
Conflict of Interest
The authors have no conflict of interest regarding this project.
- Arum, R., & Roksa, J. (2011). Academically adrift: limited learning on college campuses. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Bridgstock, M. (2003). Paranormal beliefs among science students. Australasian Science, 24(4), 33–35.Google Scholar
- Bunge, M. (2010). Knowledge: genuine and bogus. Science & Education, 20(5–6), 411–438.Google Scholar
- DeRobertis, M. M., & Delaney, P. A. (1993). A survey of the attitudes of university students to astrology and astronomy. Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, 87(1), 34–50.Google Scholar
- Diamond, J. (2005). Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed. New York: Penguin Group.Google Scholar
- Dougherty, M. J. (2004). Educating believers: research demonstrates that courses in skepticism can effectively decrease belief in the paranormal. Skeptic, 10(4), 31–35.Google Scholar
- Facione, P. A. (1990). Critical thinking: a statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction. Millbrae: The California Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Feder, K. (1995). Ten years after: surveying misconceptions about the human past. Cultural Resource Management, 18(3), 10–14.Google Scholar
- Feder, K. (2010). Frauds, myths, and mysteries: science and pseudoscience in archaeology (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
- Franz, T. M., & Green, K. H. (2013). The impact of an interdisciplinary learning community course on pseudoscientific reasoning in first-year science students. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 13(5), 90–105.Google Scholar
- Freidel, D. (2007). Betraying the Maya. Archaeology Magazine, 60(2), 36–41.Google Scholar
- Goode, E. (2002). Education, scientific knowledge, and belief in the paranormal. Skeptical Inquirer, 26(1), 24–27.Google Scholar
- Harrold, F. B., & Eve, R. A. (Eds.). (1987). Cult archaeology and creationism: understanding pseudoscientific beliefs about the past. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.Google Scholar
- Holtorf, C. (2005). From Stonehenge to Las Vegas: archaeology as popular culture. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.Google Scholar
- Karimi, F., & Sutton, J. (2014). Maryland mom kills two of her children during attempted exorcism. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/19/justice/maryland-exorcism-deaths/. Accessed 20 Feb.
- McAnany, P. A., & Negrón, T. G. (2009). Bellicose rulers and climatological peril? Retrofitting 21st century woes on 8th century Maya society. In In questioning collapse: human resilience, ecological vulnerability, and the aftermath of empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- McAnany, P. A., & Yoffee, N. (Eds.) (2010). Questioning collapse: human resilience, ecological vulnerability, and the aftermath of empire. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- NSF. (2014). Chapter 7: Science and technology: public attitudes and understanding. In Science and Engineering Indicators 2014. National Science Foundation, 7–1–7-37.Google Scholar
- Paul, R. (1995). Critical thinking: how to prepare students for a rapidly changing world. Rohnert Park: Foundation for Critical Thinking.Google Scholar
- Pew (2013). Public’s knowledge of science and technology. Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (April). http://www.people-press.org/files/legacy-pdf/04-22-13%20Science%20knowledge%20Release.pdf. Accessed 23 Nov 2014.
- Ryan, T. J., Brown, J., Johnson, A., Sanburg, C., & Schildmeier, M. (2004). Science literacy and belief in the paranormal—an empirical test. Skeptic, 10(4), 12–13.Google Scholar
- Sagan, C. (1996). The demon-haunted world: science as a candle in the dark. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
- Tobacyk, J. (2004). A revised paranormal belief scale. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 23, 94–98.Google Scholar