This study shows that a one-semester course aimed at STEM-interested freshmen and focused on scientific literature analysis using the CREATE strategy can produce gains in thinking/design ability as well as epistemological maturation.
The Consider, Read, Elucidate hypotheses, Analyze and interpret data, Think of the next Experiment (CREATE) strategy for teaching and learning uses intensive analysis of primary literature to improve students’ critical-thinking and content integration abilities, as well as their self-rated science attitudes, understanding, and confidence. CREATE also supports maturation of undergraduates’ epistemological beliefs about science. This approach, originally tested with upper-level students, has been adapted in Introduction to Scientific Thinking, a new course for freshmen. Results from this course's initial semesters indicate that freshmen in a one-semester introductory course that uses a narrowly focused set of readings to promote development of analytical skills made significant gains in critical-thinking and experimental design abilities. Students also reported significant gains in their ability to think scientifically and understand primary literature. Their perceptions and understanding of science improved, and multiple aspects of their epistemological beliefs about science gained sophistication. The course has no laboratory component, is relatively inexpensive to run, and could be adapted to any area of scientific study.