Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Third International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Practise makes perfect: developing critical thinking and writing skills in undergraduate science students
Sarah Hall

Last modified: 07-06-2017


Successful undergraduate students are required to demonstrate critical thinking and writing skills in their final year dissertation, but the early years of some science degrees may not fully prepare them for this challenge.  This study investigated the value of earlier engagement with scientific literacy skills by assessing the impact of rehersing critical thinking and extended writing skills earlier in the degree programme.  This paper reports a small-scale study of a single cohort of students on BSc (Hons.) Biomedical Sciences degree schemes at a research-intensive university and describes quantitative analysis of students' performance in two research-driven writing tasks at different stages of the degree: a literature review in Year 2 and a research dissertation in the final year.  The results of this study support the comcept that earlier exposure to extended writing tasks requiring scientific literacy skills is beneficial to students whose final year project has similar literature-based format; the experience of completing the literature review appears particularly valuable in improving the academic performance of weaker students.

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