Real world problems in developing a critical thinking approach to learning in Pharmacology
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Abstract: In science courses that require significant recall of facts and information it is often easy to neglect key graduate skills such as higher order thinking skills and critical evaluation of both data and text. Furthermore, student engagement can decline when the relevance of the learning material is not immediately evident to students. Therefore a suite of innovative and distinctive activities to promote learning in the discipline of pharmacology has been prepared. Tutorial problems were designed using materials from a variety of sources to extend student learning from recall and understanding to higher levels of thinking (including application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation of information). A diverse range of source material such as newspapers, journal articles and television programs to determine contemporary issues in pharmacology, therapeutics or general medicine have been used. The study of science to societal problems is one way of engaging students. Students are challenged to review the material and complete exercises that require significant understanding of pharmacological principles. Course evaluations following these classes showed that students found the way problems were structured helped them to understand concepts in pharmacology and provided them with a range of intellectual challenges. Over the three years that critical thinking activities were introduced into the curriculum, the program consistently obtained a score >5.6/7 for effectiveness of the teaching methods and > 5.8/7 for effectiveness of the course in helping students to learn. Having had an opportunity to reflect on student performance, the approach outlined above advantages students to acquire a deep understanding of the subject material.
The International Journal of Learning
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