Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, Volume 5, Issue 3

Promoting Thinking through Pedagogical Changes in Science Lessons

CHANG Shook Cheong Agnes

National Institute of Education
Nanyang Technological University Singapore


  • Curriculum Reform to Prepare Children for the 21st Century
  • Project work with real-world application
  • Emphasis on process skills and metacognitive skills
  • Presentation of challenging quizzes and puzzles as out-of-class activities
  • Use of alternative forms of assessment
  • Teacher modeling in promoting thinking in the classroom
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

  • Curriculum Reform to Prepare Children for the 21st Century

    Students entering the new millennium will encounter challenges not known to their seniors a decade ago. They must come fully equipped with skills that enable them to think for themselves and be self-initiating, self-modifying and self-directing. They will require skills that cannot be gained by learning content alone. Needed skills go beyond processing capabilities in just fixing problems. Rather they must be visionary and anticipate future challenges and search more consciously for more creative solutions. (Costa, 2001)

    The McREL researchers have identified six general thinking and reasoning skills in a majority of the content areas (Kendall and Marzano, 2000):

      1. Identifying similarities and differences (found in all subjects)
      2. Problem-solving and trouble-shooting (found in 83 percent of the subjects)
      3. Argumentation (found in 83 percent of the subjects)
      4. Decision making (found in 75 percent of the subjects)
      5. Hypothesis testing and scientific inquiry (found in 58 percent of the subjects)
      6. Use of logic and reasoning (found in 50 percent of the subjects)

    Of the twelve subjects covered in the McREL study, science tops in the share of reference to thinking and reasoning (27.2%). Science has a share of 8.3% for identifying similarities and differences, 11.8% for problem-solving and trouble-shooting, 22.9% for argumentation, 3.1% for decision making, 32.3% for hypotheses testing and scientific inquiry and 21.8% for the use of logic and reasoning. (Marzano and Pollock, 2001)

    There is an important emphasis on the study of science in all nations as science and technology lay the foundation for the development of industry, biotechnology, information technology and defence technology for a nation. In the book, Education for 1.3 Billion by the former Vice-Premier of China, Li Lanqing, special mention is made on the overhauling of the Chinese science and technology management system.

    Among all curricular subjects, science appears to the most suitable subject through which thinking and reasoning skills could be taught and applied. However, the traditional pedagogy of science teaching involving factual information, verification of scientific theories, and application of theories to problems would not foster and develop in students the higher order thinking skills needed to cope with the unpredictable challenges in the 21st century.

    It is necessary for teachers to make pedagogical changes and set thought-provoking tasks and higher-order assessment questions to promote and foster thinking in their students.



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