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Topic X Thinking

Skills

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to: 1. 2. Explain what thinking skills are; and Describe the relationship between science process skills and thinking skills.

X INTRODUCTION
What do we do when we are confronted with a problem? Do we immediately find a solution or get mentally stuck for days without solving the issue? With the amount of information available to us now, we tend to read from books or most likely search through the Internet to get ideas and data to solve our daily problems. Depending on the issues we are facing, some can be easily solved when we have enough information on it, but some might be more complicated. In this case, we might need more than what can be offered from books and the Internet. We need to possess thinking skills. Thinking allows us to make sense of our surroundings. Scientific skills enable us to find answers to questions about the world. Enhancing scientific skills helps us to improve our way of thinking or indirectly enhances our thinking skills. In this topic, you will learn about thinking skills as described in the primary science curriculum. You will also learn the relationship between thinking skills and the science process skills.

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ACTIVITY 6.1 Ingroupsoffour,recallyourambitionwhenyouwereinprimaryschool. (a) (b) List each members ambition on a piece of paper. Compare your groups list with the rest of the class.

Is there any job as a web designer, digital graphic designer or road safety auditor in the list? Discuss why the list is as such.

6.1

THINKING SKILLS

Can we imagine communicating with other people using Facebook or Twitter back in our primary school days? Have we ever thought of virtually choosing and buying a camera from a shop from as far away as the US? This is our world today. The world that we never imagined 30 or 40 years ago. Mastery of all the contents in our curriculum is not sufficient to meet the demands of the real world. Our education programmes should enable students to become effective thinkers. Students who can only memorise what is taught by teachers and what is given in the books will not survive in the changing real world. Teachers need to not only achieve the learning objectives prescribed in the curriculum specifications, but more importantly, help develop students thinking skills. What are thinking skills? A thinking skill is a practical ability to think in ways that are judged to be more or less effective or skilled. Hence, thinking skills are the habits of intelligent behaviour learned through practice (Robert Fisher in Arthur, J., Grainger, T. & Wray D (eds.), 2006). These skills refer to the human capacity to think in conscious ways in order to achieve certain purposes. In schools, teachers need to help develop students capacity to think in every subject of the curriculum. Bloom's taxonomy of thinking skills, also called "the cognitive goals of education" has been widely used by teachers in Malaysia. We use these goals in planning our teaching. Bloom identifies three basic or lower order cognitive skills and three higher order cognitive skills as shown in Figure 6.1.

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Figure 6.1: Blooms taxonomy

Do we really teach students these skills? Do we really teach and assess them on how to analyse, how to apply their knowledge, how to evaluate and how to synthesise? The emphasis of thinking skills is clearly stated in our primary school science curriculum. It is stated in the aims of the science curriculum as given below: The aim of the primary school science curriculum is to develop pupils interest and creativity through everyday experiences and investigations that promote the acquisition of scientific and thinking skills as well as the inculcation of scientific attitudes and values.

(Ministry of Education, 2002)


It is clearly stated at both levels, from Year 1 to Year 3 and from Year 4 to Year 6 that one of the objectives of Primary School Science is to provide pupils with opportunities to develop science process skills and thinking skills. The Malaysian primary science curriculum specifications categorises thinking skills into critical and creative thinking skills. A brief description of each critical and creative thinking skill is given below in Tables 6.1 and 6.2.

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Table 6.1: Critical Thinking Skills

Element Attributing Description Identifying characteristics, features, qualities and elements of a concept or an object. Finding similarities and differences based on criteria such as characteristics, features, qualities and elements of a concept or event. Separating objects or phenomena into categories based on certain criteria such as common characteristics or features. Arranging objects and information in order based on the quality or quantity of common characteristics or features such as size, time, shape or number. Arranging objects and information in order based on their importance or priority. Examining information in detail by breaking it down into smaller parts to find implicit meanings and relationships. Identifying views or opinions that have the tendency to support or oppose something in an unfair or misleading way. Making judgements on the quality or value of something based on valid reasons or evidence. Making a statement about the outcome of an investigation that is based on a hypothesis. (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2002)

Comparing and Contrasting Grouping and Classifying Sequencing

Prioritising

Analysing

Detecting Bias

Evaluating

Making Conclusions

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Table 6.2: Creative Thinking Skills

Elements Generating Ideas Relating Description Producing or giving ideas in a discussion. Making connections in a certain situation to determine a structure or pattern of relationship. Using past experiences or previously collected data to draw conclusions and explain events. Making a forecast about what will happen in the future based on prior knowledge gained through experiences or collected data. Making a general conclusion about a group based on observations on, or information from, samples of the group. Recalling or forming mental images about a particular idea, concept, situation or vision. Combining separate elements or parts to form a general picture in various forms such as writing, drawing or artefact. Making general statements about the relationship between manipulated variable and responding variable to explain an observation or event. The statements can be tested to determine their validity. Understanding an abstract or complex concepts by relating it to simpler or concrete concepts with similar characteristics. Producing something new or adapting something already in existence to overcome problems in a systematic manner. (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2002)

Making Inferences

Predicting

Making Generalisations Visualising

Synthesising

Making Hypotheses

Making Analogies

Inventing

The ultimate aim of developing thinking skills is to enable pupils to formulate thinking strategies: conceptualising, making decisions and problem solving. The descriptions of all thinking strategies as stated in the curriculum are shown in Table 6.3.

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Table 6.3: Thinking Strategy Element Conceptualising Making Decisions Problem Solving Description Making generalisations based on interrelated and common characteristics in order to construct meaning, concept or model. Selecting the best solution from various alternatives based on specific criteria to achieve a specific aim. Finding solutions to challenging or unfamiliar situations or unanticipated difficulties in a systematic manner. (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2002)

ACTIVITY 6.2 Do this in pairs. Refer to the primary science curriculum specification. Choose a topic that both of you have taught. (a) Explain to your partner how you integrated any of the thinking skills (both choose the same skill) to be developed, while teaching this topic. Compare the method you used with your partners way of teaching the skill. Whose method is better? Why? Activities prepared by science teachers should enable pupils to practice their reasoning skills. They should be allowed to apply their thinking skills to conceptualise, solve problems and make decisions.

(b)

6.2

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCIENCE PROCESS SKILLS AND THINKING SKILLS

Thinking is a mental process that requires an individual to integrate knowledge, skills and attitude. Thinking skills and science process skills are interrelated. Both have their important roles in science. Thinking skills form the basis of the development of scientific process. At the same time, applying scientific skills in an activity will not only help students in sharpening their science process skills but also improve their thinking skills.

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Thinking skills related to science process skills as prescribed in the Malaysian science curriculum specification are shown in Table 6.4.
Table 6.4: Relationship between Science Process Skills and Thinking Skills Science Process Skills Observing Thinking Skills x Attributing x Comparing and contrasting x Relating Classifying x Attributing x Comparing and contrasting x Grouping and classifying Measuring and Using Numbers Making Inferences x Comparing and contrasting x Relating x Analysing x Comparing and contrasting x Making inferences x Relating Predicting x Relating x Visualising Using Space-Time Relationship Interpreting data x Prioritising x Sequencing x Analysing x Comparing and contrasting x Detecting bias x Evaluating x Generalising x Making conclusions Defining operationally x Analysing x Making analogy x Relating x Visualising Controlling variables x Analysing x Attributing

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x Comparing and contrasting x Relating Making hypotheses x Attributing x Comparing and contrasting x Generating ideas x Making hypotheses x Predicting x Relating x Synthesising Experimenting Communicating x All thinking skills x All thinking skills (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2002)

Since science is by doing, doing science is almost a must in the process of teaching and learning science. Hence, science is more a verb rather than a noun. By doing science in science lessons, teachers help students to master the science process skills, instil scientific attitude and values and strengthen their scientific knowledge. By doing this, it will enable our students to think effectively. Padilla (1990) stated that further study of experimenting (one of the science process skills) abilities shows that they are closely related to the formal thinking abilities described by Piaget. ACTIVITY 6.3 Do this in pairs. Refer to the primary science curriculum specifications. Choose any activity where your students will be using their experimenting skills. (a) (b) (c) List the steps taken in the activity. Identify related thinking skills and science process skills enhanced in a particular step. Compare the thinking skills and related science process skills you identified with your partner. Are they the same? Discuss your answer.

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Our education programmes should enable students to become effective thinkers. Mastering all contents in the curriculum is not sufficient to fulfil the demands of the real world and the future students face after completing their course. Thinking skills are practical abilities to think in ways that are judged to be more or less effective or skilled. They are the habits of intelligent behaviour learned through practice. Thinking skills refer to the human capacity to think in conscious ways in order to achieve certain purposes. Teachers need to help develop students capacity to think. Thinking skills form the basis of the development of scientific process. Applying the scientific skills in an activity helps students in sharpening their science process skills and improves their thinking skills. Thinking skills consist of two categories: critical thinking skills and creative thinking skills. Critical thinking skills involve attributing, comparing and contrasting, grouping and classifying, sequencing, prioritising, analysing, detecting bias, evaluating and making conclusions. Creative thinking skills are generating ideas, relating, making inferences, predicting, making generalisations, visualising, synthesising and making hypotheses.

x x x x x x

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Analysing Attributing Blooms taxonomy Comparing and contrasting Detecting bias Evaluating Generating ideas Grouping and classifying Inventing Making analogies Making conclusions

Making generalisations Making hypotheses Making inferences Predicting Prioritising Relating Science process skills Sequencing Synthesising Thinking skills Visualising

Ministry of Education Malaysia (2002). Curriculum specification, Science Year 4. Kuala Lumpur: Pusat Perkembangan Kurikulum. Padilla, M. J. (1990). The science process www.narst.org/publications/research/skill.cfm.

skills.

Retrieved

from

Thinking skills - Robert Fisher Teaching Thinking homepage. Retrieved 30 July, 2012, from www.teachingthinking.net/thinking/.../robert_fisher_thinking skills Zurida & Ismail (2000). Relationship Between Science Process Skills and Logical Thinking Abilities Of Malaysian Students. Journal of Science and Mathematics Education in S.E Asia, 24(2), 67-77