Mari Murtonen: Supporting the development of university students’ scientific thinking skills: possibilities and problems.

26.05.2021 14:00 - 15:30

Universities have the special task of producing and utilising knowledge that is based on reliable and unbiased principles. Hence, during their university education, students are expected to develop a set of skills that represents these principles. That is, students should learn how to make valid scientific judgements, informed by evidence and research. Graduates should then use these skills to deal with the complex responsibilities of their professional working lives. Current discussions about the importance of evidence-based decision-making and relying on scientific research results all refer to peoples’ ability to think scientifically.

I refer to these higher-order thinking skills as scientific thinking. I will present a theory of scientific thinking comprising: (1) criticality and basics of science, (2) epistemic understanding, (3) research skills, (4) evidence-based reasoning skills and (5) contextual understanding.

The development of these thinking skills, however, is not a straightforward process for all students. For example, during their research training, many students have difficulties understanding the basics of the scientific method and how knowledge is created. In this ELOC online event, university teachers’ possibilities and problems in supporting the development of students’ higher order thinking skills will be discussed.