Teaching critical appraisal to students in the Behavioural and Life Sciences



Phillips A (2010) Teaching critical appraisal to students in the Behavioural and Life Sciences. Psychology Teaching Review, 16 (2), pp. 80-95.

This study aimed to examine the concept of critical thinking, and implement and evaluate seminars to teach undergraduates critical appraisal skills. Participants were 140 undergraduate students on a Behavioural Medicine module. Four seminars were designed to teach and reinforce critical thinking with source material including research proposals and journal articles. Two assessments relying on critical thinking were linked to the seminars. Teaching method effectiveness was examined using questionnaire evaluations and comparison of current students' coursework grades with previous years'. Students reported finding the seminars helpful, and their self-ratings of critical appraisal skills improved from pre- to post-seminar. For the first piece of coursework, there was an improvement in the mean grade from the previous year, but no improvement on two years previously. There was no overall improvement in grade for the second coursework. The issues surrounding critical appraisal teaching and assessment are discussed. Future studies could investigate whether longer-term follow-up yields evidence of improvement in objectively measured critical ability.

FundersUniversity of Birmingham
Publication date01/02/2010
Publisher URL…vol-16-no-2-2010

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Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Sport