Critical Thinking through Space Science Activities

What are Critical Thinking Skills?

Critical thinking is a convergent thinking process which requires skills for organizing, analysing, evaluating and using factual information to arrive at a conclusion. A person who possess critical thinking skills views a problem or new information or situation from all angles in an unbiased manner, gathers additional information if required, and takes action based on known facts. He also has the skills to accommodate divergent views, collaborate with others and importantly, is open to change his viewpoint or course of action, based on new facts.

Experts have defined critical thinking abilities in a number of ways, which, though differing in semantics, agree on its components, purpose and need. One definition of critical thinking skills is ...the ability to analyse facts, generate and organize ideas, defend opinions, make comparisons, draw inferences, evaluate arguments and solve problems (Chance, P. (1986). Thinking in the classroom: A survey of programs. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University.)

Need for Developing Critical Thinking Skills

Education systems across the world have encouraged rote learning primarily because of the pressure on the students to do well in the exams which mainly tests the ability of the students to retain and remember what they have learnt in the classroom. However, there has been a growing concern and need for action to facilitate upgrading the skill sets of children so as to prepare them adequately for the world of tomorrow.

With the proliferation of technology enabled tools, the low cognitive tasks being done by humans earlier are now being done by machines. As more and more intelligence is being built into such machines, the need for human intervention in such tasks is rapidly decreasing. This means that the jobs available today or in the future will require higher order skills which areanalysing, evaluating and creating. Thinking is a skill that can be taught, practiced and encouraged from an early age and on a regular basis as a part of the regular curriculum of schools, and not merely as an after school activity.

Benefits

The workshop accomplishes two objectives – The primary benefit is the development of higher order cognitive skills of inquiry based learning, collaborative skills, application of theoretical knowledge to solve practical problems and most importantly, learning – by – doing. The secondary benefit is that the expert sessions and hands – on activities undertaken by the students motivates them to pursue pure sciences as well as Space Technology as career options.

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