Development of Scientific Thinking Facilitated by Reflective Self-Assessment in a Communication-Intensive Food Science and Human Nutrition Course

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Hendrich, Suzanne
Licklider, Barbara
Thompson, Katherine
Haynes, Cindy
Wiersema, Jan
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Thompson, Janette
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is dedicated to the understanding, effective management, and sustainable use of our renewable natural resources through the land-grant missions of teaching, research, and extension.
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A one-credit seminar on controversies in food science and human nutrition was a platform to introduce students to learning frameworks for thinking-like-a-scientist. We hypothesized that explicitly engaging students in thinking about their thinking abilities within these frameworks would enhance their self-perception of scientific thinking, an important general ability for food scientists. Our objectives were to assess thinking-like-a-scientist using a student self-assessment survey, and analyze their self-reflections for evidence of such thinking. For students enrolled in one of the offerings of this course among five semesters from 2012-2014, differences in scores on a survey instrument for thinking-like-a-scientist from the beginning to the end of the course showed gains in self-assessed abilities (N = 21-22 students/semester). In each of the first 2 semesters in which we introduced thinking-like-a-scientist frameworks, students thought they were better at defining problems scientifically by 13-14%. In the third course offering, students’ self-assessment of their abilities to seek evidence improved by 10%. In the fourth and fifth semester course offerings, students’ self-assessed abilities to develop plans based on evidence improved by 7-14%. At the end of each semester, students’ self-reflections on scientific thinking (N = 20-24/semester) included specific reference to asking questions (45-65% of reflections) and making plans based on evidence (26-50% of reflections). These data support the usefulness of self-reflection tools as well as specific learning frameworks to help students to think about and practice thinking-like-a-scientist.


This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Hendrich, Suzanne, Barbara Licklider, Katherine Thompson, Janette Thompson, Cynthia Haynes, and Jan Wiersema. "Development of Scientific Thinking Facilitated by Reflective Self‐Assessment in a Communication‐Intensive Food Science and Human Nutrition Course." Journal of Food Science Education 17, no. 1 (2018): 8-13, which has been published in final form at doi:10.1111/1541-4329.12127. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018