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Enhance Critical Thinking Skills through Daily Engagement with Puzzles
In today’s fast-paced world, where information is readily available at our fingertips, it’s crucial to develop and enhance critical thinking skills. One effective way to achieve this is by engaging in daily puzzles. Whether it’s a crossword, Sudoku, or a brain teaser, puzzles of the day can provide a fun and challenging exercise for your mind. In this article, we will explore the benefits of daily puzzle engagement and how it can sharpen your critical thinking skills.
Mental Stimulation and Problem-Solving Abilities
Engaging in puzzles on a regular basis provides mental stimulation that keeps your brain active and alert. When you tackle puzzles of the day, you are presented with various problems that require logical reasoning and problem-solving abilities. These challenges push you to think creatively and find innovative solutions.
By consistently engaging in puzzle solving, you train your brain to approach problems from different angles, improving your ability to think critically. This skillset extends beyond puzzle-solving scenarios and becomes applicable in various real-life situations such as decision-making processes or analyzing complex issues.
Memory Retention and Cognitive Function
Puzzles not only stimulate critical thinking but also help improve memory retention and cognitive function. When solving puzzles of the day, you are required to remember patterns, rules, or clues provided within the puzzle itself.
This constant exercise of memory retrieval strengthens neural connections in the brain responsible for storing information. As a result, you will notice an improvement in your ability to recall information quickly and accurately.
Moreover, engaging in regular puzzle-solving activities has been linked to enhanced cognitive function. It has been shown that individuals who regularly engage in puzzles perform better on tasks related to memory, processing speed, and attention span compared to those who do not engage in such activities.
Increased Concentration and Focus
In today’s digital age where distractions are abundant, maintaining concentration and focus has become a challenge for many. Engaging in puzzles of the day can help combat this problem.
When solving a puzzle, you need to concentrate on the task at hand, blocking out any distractions. This focused attention allows you to delve deep into the problem and analyze it thoroughly. Over time, regular engagement with puzzles improves your ability to concentrate for longer periods and enhances your overall focus.
Stress Reduction and Mental Well-being
Puzzles provide a wonderful escape from the daily stressors of life. When you immerse yourself in solving puzzles, you enter a state of flow where time seems to fly by, and your mind is fully engaged in the task.
This state of flow promotes relaxation and reduces stress levels. As you solve each piece of the puzzle, you experience a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction, boosting your mood and mental well-being.
Additionally, engaging in puzzles can serve as a form of meditation or mindfulness practice. It allows you to disconnect from technology and be present in the moment, focusing solely on the task at hand.
In conclusion, incorporating daily puzzles into your routine can have numerous benefits for enhancing critical thinking skills. From mental stimulation to improved memory retention, increased concentration to stress reduction – puzzles provide a holistic approach to sharpening your cognitive abilities while having fun along the way. So why not make “puzzle of the day” part of your daily routine? Start challenging yourself today.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Research Skills: Critical thinking
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Critical thinking guide from Emerald
Critical thinking means not taking what you hear or read at face value, but using your critical faculties to weigh up the evidence, and considering the implications and conclusions of what the writer is saying.
- How to develop critical thinking
Critical thinking checklist
Your critical evaluation checklist should include:
Identify what is important:
- key ideas, arguments, findings and conclusions
- Is the evidence reliable and valid or vague and obscure?
- Is the language appropriate or emotive and biased?
- Are the methods of investigation appropriate?
- Do you agree with the assumptions and inferences being made?
Evaluate publications against each other:
- What other perspectives and viewpoints have you discovered?
- Have you identified arguments and sub-arguments?
- Do you require more information from other sources?
Your own interpretation and summation:
- Have you personal observations to contribute?
- Are you able to connect ideas from the experts you have read?
- Is your analysis intelligent and objective
You might also read this piece from the Open University
If you want to further grasp this topic I would recommend this tutorial created by UCD
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How to improve your critical thinking and research skills.
Critical thinking doesn’t always come naturally to us. It requires analyzing the facts, gathering as much information as possible, thinking open-mindedly, and then forming a judgment.
Rest assured, you can teach yourself to think critically. Here are tips to help you get started.
Be aware of authors’ motivations
You can evaluate an author’s work if you’re aware of what drove that person to undertake the research and writing in the first place. Here are things to be aware of:
- Avoid personal feelings
- Be wary of phrases like always , a lot , or never unless you can attach a number to confirm the characterization
- Steer clear of first-person (using “I”) and second-person (using “you”) pronouns unless you’re asked to reflect or give advice
- Find credible sources ( more on this below!)
- Read multiple articles from different perspectives
Find credible evidence
A rule of thumb for most writing is to make a claim, provide evidence to support the claim, and then use reasoning to tie it all together. How do you analyze your sources? Use critical thinking skills. Ask questions such as:
- Did the researchers only study 10 people?
- Is the writer representing a particular company or industry?
- What other articles and studies has the writer published?
- Is this article published in a scholarly journal, or on a website selling something?
It’s easier to find credible evidence when you’re looking in the right places. Here are key tips for researching well:
- Use your school’s online library to find scholarly articles. Peer-reviewed articles have been reviewed by other professionals or scholars in the field and are generally the most accurate.
- When you read something compelling, check out the reference page at the end of that article, and look up some of those sources.
- When an author cites another source, try to find that original source, and read it for yourself.
- Beware of bias, and consider the credibility of the authors you read.
- Pay close attention to dates. If the research was completed more than five to ten years ago, it’s probably outdated.
Make the most of your findings
The key to using evidence in your paper is not just to sprinkle quotes throughout, but rather to integrate the research into your argument. Explain the significance and implications of that research. It’s one thing to write, “Carrots are good for you,” but it’s much more compelling to explain how and why carrots are good for you based on statistics and research. To demonstrate real critical thinking skills, synthesize what you read (citing it accurately), and incorporate it into your argument, paying special attention to the flow and structure. Read how other authors use information to gain your trust, and utilize their strategies to do the same for your reader.
Critical thinking leads to better research skills, which in turn lead to better writing. When you find credible evidence, it will support your claims more effectively, and you’ll learn to read and listen to information with a critical eye for bias and persuasion. As an added bonus, you’ll also learn to be a better conversationalist outside of school.
To get more insights into sharpening your critical thinking and research skills, watch our webinar:
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Research and critical thinking
Research and critical thinking skills combine the abilities to identify credible data sources, gather and evaluate information, often following a clear methodology and based upon agreed objectives, analysing results and presenting an argument and insights based on this analysis.
Activities where you could develop research and critical thinking skills
A defining part of any degree at the University of Manchester is that it develops your research and critical thinking skills but you can’t assume that employers will take that for granted. You need to be able to articulate how you applied these skills.
Most academic programmes will involve a formal research project or dissertation but the way you approach this is at least as important as the subject content, to a non-academic employer. They are probably more interested in you explaining how you determined which sources were credible, why you chose one methodology over another, what setbacks you had to overcome, rather than a detailed description of the content of your final report. Reflecting on your experience will help you make the most of your research.
In addition, the following activities, which may be undertaken as part of or alongside your studies, can be good ways to develop your research skills:
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- Manchester Leadership Programme This academic module is open to most undergraduate students at Manchester.
- Volunteering There may be opportunities to complete research projects for voluntary organisations.
- Some academic programmes include an opportunity to complete a team project for an organisation or individual.
- Researching employers and jobs Research is important beyond your academic subject - find out how to research and critically evaluate employers and jobs. This will help you present your "argument" for why you want the job.
How is Research and Critical Thinking assessed in recruitment?
Application form and interview questions
Some examples of application form and interview questions which are designed to test research skills:
- Give me an example of when you have had to research a new topic. How did you approach this, and what obstacles did you need to overcome?
- How have research methods changed in the light of technical innovations?
- Tell me what you know about our organisation and our key competitors?
- What is the key to effective research?
- How would you research the potential to develop new customers for our products?
Note: For those whose practical research activities have been affected by the pandemic, you could alternatively use examples where you have completed a literature review (eg comparing and evaluating research methods for a particular topic) or analysed data sets which have been generated by other researchers.
If you are unsure how to structure an answer for either application or interview questions, visit the application and interviews section of our website and find out about the CAR (context, action, result) and STAR (situation, task, action, result) models. Our recommendations are based on feedback from employers.
- You may be asked to prepare a presentation on a recent research project for a research role. It is important to clarify if this will be presented to a subject expert or needs to be intelligible to a non-specialist.
- For some fast-paced marketing or sales roles, employers may ask you to carry out research during the assessment day eg on competitors or customers, and present your results with recommendations.
Skills in action
See Lauren and Sofia's stories for examples of how recent graduates developed research and critical thinking skills at The University of Manchester and applied them to graduate work.
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The Importance of Critical Thinking Skills in Research
Why is Critical Thinking Important: A Disruptive Force
Research anxiety seems to be taking an increasingly dominant role in the world of academic research. The pressure to publish or perish can warp your focus into thinking that the only good research is publishable research!
Today, your role as the researcher appears to take a back seat to the perceived value of the topic and the extent to which the results of the study will be cited around the world. Due to financial pressures and a growing tendency of risk aversion, studies are increasingly going down the path of applied research rather than basic or pure research . The potential for breakthroughs is being deliberately limited to incremental contributions from researchers who are forced to worry more about job security and pleasing their paymasters than about making a significant contribution to their field.
A Slow Decline
So what lead the researchers to their love of science and scientific research in the first place? The answer is critical thinking skills. The more that academic research becomes governed by policies outside of the research process , the less opportunity there will be for researchers to exercise such skills.
True research demands new ideas , perspectives, and arguments based on willingness and confidence to revisit and directly challenge existing schools of thought and established positions on theories and accepted codes of practice. Success comes from a recursive approach to the research question with an iterative refinement based on constant reflection and revision.
The importance of critical thinking skills in research is therefore huge, without which researchers may even lack the confidence to challenge their own assumptions.
A Misunderstood Skill
Critical thinking is widely recognized as a core competency and as a precursor to research. Employers value it as a requirement for every position they post, and every survey of potential employers for graduates in local markets rate the skill as their number one concern.
Related: Do you have questions on research idea or manuscript drafting? Get personalized answers on the FREE Q&A Forum!
When asked to clarify what critical thinking means to them, employers will use such phrases as “the ability to think independently,” or “the ability to think on their feet,” or “to show some initiative and resolve a problem without direct supervision.” These are all valuable skills, but how do you teach them?
For higher education institutions in particular, when you are being assessed against dropout, graduation, and job placement rates, where does a course in critical thinking skills fit into the mix? Student Success courses as a precursor to your first undergraduate course will help students to navigate the campus and whatever online resources are available to them (including the tutoring center), but that doesn’t equate to raising critical thinking competencies.
The Dependent Generation
As education becomes increasingly commoditized and broken-down into components that can be delivered online for maximum productivity and profitability, we run the risk of devaluing academic discourse and independent thought. Larger class sizes preclude substantive debate, and the more that content is broken into sound bites that can be tested in multiple-choice questions, the less requirement there will be for original thought.
Academic journals value citation above all else, and so content is steered towards the type of articles that will achieve high citation volume. As such, students and researchers will perpetuate such misuse by ensuring that their papers include only highly cited works. And the objective of high citation volume is achieved.
We expand the body of knowledge in any field by challenging the status quo. Denying the veracity of commonly accepted “facts” or playing devil’s advocate with established rules supports a necessary insurgency that drives future research. If we do not continue to emphasize the need for critical thinking skills to preserve such rebellion, academic research may begin to slowly fade away.
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The Art and Science of Critical Thinking in Research: A Guide to Academic Excellence
Table of contents
Rigor and accuracy, evaluation of evidence, identification of biases and assumptions, problem-solving, development of new ideas, communication, evaluate the credibility of sources, assess the quality of evidence, consider alternative explanations, challenge assumptions, seek out feedback, practice analyzing data, attend conferences and seminars, define the research problem, conduct a comprehensive literature review, evaluate evidence and sources, analyze and synthesize information, question assumptions, evaluate arguments and reasoning, consider multiple perspectives, ask critical questions, communicate effectively, practice self-reflection, embrace creativity and open-mindedness, seek feedback and engage in peer review.
Critical thinking is a fundamental skill in research and academia that involves analyzing, evaluating, and interpreting information in a systematic and logical manner. It is the process of objectively evaluating evidence, arguments, and ideas to arrive at well-reasoned conclusions or make informed decisions.
The art and science of critical thinking in research is a multifaceted and dynamic process that requires intellectual rigor, creativity, and an open mind.
In research, critical thinking is essential for developing research questions, designing research studies, collecting and analyzing data, and interpreting research findings. It allows researchers to evaluate the quality and validity of research studies, identify gaps in the literature, and make evidence-based decisions.
Critical thinking in research also involves being open to alternative viewpoints and being willing to revise one’s own conclusions based on new evidence. It requires intellectual humility and a willingness to challenge one’s own assumptions and biases.
Why Critical Thinking is Important in Research?
Critical thinking is important in research for the following reasons:
It helps researchers to approach their work with rigor and accuracy, ensuring that the research methods and findings are reliable and valid.
Critical thinking helps researchers to evaluate the evidence they encounter and determine its relevance and reliability to the research question or hypothesis.
Critical thinking helps research ers to identify their own biases and assumptions and those of others, which can influence the research process and findings.
It helps researchers to identify and solve problems that may arise during the research process, such as inconsistencies in data or unexpected results.
Critical thinking can help researchers develop new ideas and theories based on their analysis of the evidence.
Critical thinking helps researchers to communicate their findings and ideas in a clear and logical manner, making it easier for others to understand and build on their work.
Therefore, critical thinking is essential for conducting rigorous and impactful research that can advance our understanding of the world around us.
It helps researchers to approach their work with a critical and objective perspective, evaluating evidence and developing insights that can contribute to the advancement of knowledge in their field.
How to develop critical thinking skills in research?
Developing critical thinking skills in research requires a specific set of strategies. Here are some ways to develop critical thinking skills in research:
In research, it is important to evaluate the credibility of sources to determine if the information is reliable and valid. To develop your critical thinking skills, practice evaluating the sources you encounter and assessing their credibility.
Critical thinking in research involves assessing the quality of evidence and determining if it supports the research question or hypothesis. Practice evaluating the quality of evidence and understanding how it impacts the research findings.
To develop critical thinking skills in research, practice considering alternative explanations for the findings. Evaluate the evidence and consider if there are other explanations that could account for the results.
Critical thinking in research involves challenging assumptions and exploring alternative perspectives. Practice questioning assumptions and considering different viewpoints to develop your critical thinking skills.
Seek out feedback from colleagues, advisors, or peers on your research methods and findings. This can help you identify areas where you need to improve your critical thinking skills and provide valuable insights for your research.
Critical thinking in research involves analyzing and interpreting data. Practice analyzing different types of data to develop your critical thinking skills.
Attend conferences and seminars in your field to learn about the latest research and to engage in critical discussions with other researchers. This can help you develop your critical thinking skills and keep up-to-date with the latest research in your field.
By consistently practicing these strategies, you can develop your critical thinking skills in research and become a more effective and insightful researcher.
The Art and Science of Critical Thinking in Research
The art and science of critical thinking in research is a vital skill for academic excellence. Here’s a guide to academic excellence through the art and science of critical thinking in research:
The first step in critical thinking is to define the research problem or question. This involves identifying the key concepts, understanding the context, and formulating a clear and concise research question or hypothesis. Clearly define the research question or problem you are trying to address. This will help you focus your thinking and avoid unnecessary distractions.
A thorough review of relevant literature is essential in critical thinking. It helps you understand the existing knowledge and research in the field, identify research gaps, and evaluate the quality and reliability of the evidence. It also allows you to identify different perspectives and theories related to the research problem.
Critical thinking requires careful evaluation of evidence and sources. This includes assessing the credibility, reliability, and validity of research studies, data sources, and information. It also involves identifying potential biases, limitations, and assumptions in the evidence and sources. Use reputable, peer-reviewed sources and critically analyze the evidence and arguments presented in those sources.
Critical thinking involves analyzing and synthesizing information from various sources. This includes identifying patterns, trends, and relationships among different pieces of information. It also requires organizing and integrating information to develop a coherent and logical argument.
Challenge your assumptions and biases. Be aware of your own biases and preconceived notions, and critically examine them to avoid potential bias in your research.
Critical thinking involves evaluating the strength and validity of arguments and reasoning. This includes identifying logical fallacies, evaluating the coherence and consistency of arguments, and assessing the evidence and support for arguments. It also involves considering alternative viewpoints and perspectives.
Apply critical thinking tools
Use critical thinking tools such as SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats), mind maps, concept maps, and flowcharts to organize and analyze information in a structured and systematic manner.
Apply critical thinking skills in research design and methodology: Critical thinking is essential in research design and methodology. This includes making informed decisions about research approaches, sampling methods, data collection, and data analysis techniques. It also involves anticipating potential limitations and biases in the research design and methodology.
Avoid tunnel vision by considering multiple perspectives and viewpoints on the issue at hand. This will help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of the topic and make informed decisions based on a broader range of information.
Critical Questions in Research
Some of the sample critical questions in the research are listed below.
1. What is the research question, and is it clearly defined?
2. What are the assumptions underlying the research question?
3. What is the methodology being used, and is it appropriate for the research organized
4. What are the limitations of the study, and how might they affect the results?
5. How representative is the sample being studied, and are there any biases in the selection process?
6. What are the potential sources of error or bias in the data collection process?
7. Are the statistical analyses used appropriate, and do they support the conclusions drawn from the data?
8. What are the implications of the research findings, and do they have practical significance?
9. Are there any ethical considerations that arise from the research, and have they been adequately addressed?
10. Are there any alternative explanations for the results, and have they been considered and ruled out?
Critical thinking requires effective communication skills to articulate and present research findings and arguments clearly and convincingly.
This includes writing clearly and concisely, using appropriate evidence and examples, and presenting information in a logical and organized manner. It also involves listening and responding critically to feedback and engaging in constructive discussions and debates.
Critical thinking involves self-reflection and self-awareness. Reflect on your own thinking and decision-making process throughout the research. It requires regularly evaluating your own biases, assumptions, and limitations in your thinking process. It also involves being mindful of your emotions and personal beliefs that may influence your critical thinking and decision-making.
Critical thinking involves being open to new ideas, perspectives, and approaches. It requires creativity in generating and evaluating alternative solutions or interpretations.
It also involves being willing to revise your conclusions or change your research direction based on new information. Avoid confirmation bias and strive for objectivity in your research.
Critical thinking benefits from feedback and peer review. Seeking feedback from mentors, colleagues, or peer reviewers can help identify potential flaws or weaknesses in your research or arguments. Engaging in peer review also provides an opportunity to critically evaluate the work of others and learn from their perspectives.
By following these best practices and techniques, you can cultivate critical thinking skills that will enhance the quality and rigor of your research, leading to more successful outcomes.
Critical thinking is an essential component of research that enables researchers to evaluate information, identify biases, and draw valid conclusions.
It involves defining research problems, conducting literature reviews, evaluating evidence and sources, analyzing and synthesizing information, evaluating arguments and reasoning, applying critical thinking in research design and methodology, communicating effectively, embracing creativity and open-mindedness, practicing self-reflection, seeking feedback, and engaging in peer review.
By cultivating and applying critical thinking skills in research, you can enhance the quality and rigor of your work and contribute to the advancement of knowledge in your field.
Remember to continuously practice and refine your critical thinking skills as they are valuable not only in research but also in various aspects of life. Happy researching!
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Search catalog, critical thinking and academic research: intro.
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Critical Thinking and Academic Research
Academic research focuses on the creation of new ideas, perspectives, and arguments. The researcher seeks relevant information in articles, books, and other sources, then develops an informed point of view within this ongoing "conversation" among researchers.
The research process is not simply collecting data, evidence, or "facts," then piecing together this preexisting information into a paper. Instead, the research process is about inquiry—asking questions and developing answers through serious critical thinking and thoughtful reflection.
As a result, the research process is recursive, meaning that the researcher regularly revisits ideas, seeks new information when necessary, and reconsiders and refines the research question, topic, or approach. In other words, research almost always involves constant reflection and revision.
This guide is designed to help you think through various aspects of the research process. The steps are not sequential, nor are they prescriptive about what steps you should take at particular points in the research process. Instead, the guide should help you consider the larger, interrelated elements of thinking involved in research.
Research is not often easy or straightforward, so it's completely normal to feel anxious, frustrated, or confused. In fact, if you feel anxious, it can be a good sign that you're engaging in the type of critical thinking necessary to research and write a high-quality paper.
Think of the research process not as one giant, impossibly complicated task, but as a series of smaller, interconnected steps. These steps can be messy, and there is not one correct sequence of steps that will work for every researcher. However, thinking about research in small steps can help you be more productive and alleviate anxiety.
This guide is based on the "Elements of Reasoning" from the Paul-Elder framework for critical thinking. For more information about the Paul-Elder framework, click the link below.
Some of the content in this guide has been adapted from The Aspiring Thinker's Guide to Critical Thinking (2009) by Linda Elder and Richard Paul.
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Research and Critical Thinking : An Important Link for Exercise Science Students Transitioning to Physical Therapy
Harvey w. wallmann.
1 Department of Physical Therapy, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY, USA
DONALD L. HOOVER
2 Department of Physical Therapy Education, Rockhurst University, Kansas City, MO, USA
Critical thinking skills are increasingly necessary for success in professional health care careers. Changes in the contemporary healthcare system in the United States arguably make these critical thinking skills more important than they have ever been, as clinicians are required on a daily basis to evaluate multiple bits of information about patients with multiple-systemic health concerns and make appropriate treatment decisions based on this information. We believe the IJES, with its emphasis on engaging undergraduate and graduate students in research and scholarly activity, is a valuable resource for promoting the higher-order critical thinking skills necessary for preparing exercise science students with an interest in professional healthcare careers such as physical therapy.
Higher-order critical thinking skills are necessary for students preparing for and/or enrolled in professional programs, especially the ability to evaluate and synthesize information, which are vital for problem-solving. Essentially, critical thinking is learning to think independently and to develop one’s own opinions supported by existing evidence. In learning scenarios that promote and foster problem-solving and critical thinking skills, it is much more difficult for the student to simply adhere to the role of the passive student; rather, this type of learning prompts the student to assume the role of a self-reliant thinker and researcher.
However, attaining critical thinking skills does not come without its challenges as students must be able to manage a vast array of resources within a series of complex network systems. This is especially true when students are asked to write a research paper, which is one of the most common methods for teaching critical thinking skills. Inherent within writing a research paper are various levels of reasoning with each level becoming progressively more abstract, complex, and effortful. This, according to Bloom’s taxonomy, promotes higher-order thinking skill and more critical thought in the form of synthesis-level thinking and builds upon the prior skill levels in a hierarchical fashion ( 1 ). However, when confronted with this seemingly daunting task, many college students shy away; presumably, because they lack these skills and therefore need to be taught how to learn and apply them ( 2 , 4 ).
Upon closer scrutiny, deficiencies in critical thinking skills among students may rest with the educational system itself, which often stresses memorization of voluminous amounts of material essentially unrelated to any type of application at all ( 2 ). The question then arises as to the extent which critical thinking is initiated during a student’s education in any given institution in higher education. As such, any focus on learning without critical thought becomes less meaningful, thereby disengaging students from any formal training and experience specifically as it relates to critically reviewing and evaluating research ( 3 ).
Arguably, an important component of critical thinking skills is the ability to critically examine and understand published research in one’s professional area of interest ( 7 ). Requiring students to critique published research is one way of addressing the goal of teaching students to critically evaluate research while gaining experience doing it ( 3 ). At its very essence, scientific research is a problem-based learning activity that sharpens critical thinking skills.
An even greater challenge, and one that provides a framework for differentiating between different levels of learning and thought by incorporating reasoning and critical thinking skills to a greater degree, is to actually engage students in the scientific method. Here, students actively participate in the formulation of a research question, data collection, and statistical analysis as a means of creating a learning environment that encourages or even forces them to engage in critical thinking and higher level reasoning. This process is arguably complete only when students are encouraged to complete the manuscript submission process in order to publish their research. Additionally, the manuscript submission process teaches students to be consumers of information while constantly examining, questioning, and evaluating the credibility of sources as they make sense of their own work ( 6 ).
Thus, we see the International Journal of Exercise Science (IJES), with its aim on engaging undergraduate and graduate students in scholarly activity, as a quite suitable vehicle for promoting critical thinking skills in exercise science students interested in entering professional programs such as physical therapy. For example, a very meaningful way to engage students is to enlist their support in a research effort of interest to them and for them to assist in the publication process. Given changes seen among Kinesiology majors on the undergraduate level in recent years, the IJES, with its emphasis on student involvement in the research process, is a great venue for disseminating research findings emphasizing this type of undergraduate student involvement ( 5 ). The research findings typically published in this journal are highly relevant to physical therapy given the central role of exercise within this healthcare profession.
We encourage all authors who work with undergraduate students interested in physical therapy to publish in this journal. Doing so will help to “raise the level” of critical thinking skills for all students involved. Among other things, doing so would also provide another valuable measure for evaluating applicants to physical therapy programs. We believe that student experiences of this nature are helpful when making admissions decisions for physical therapy programs, in part because evidence of prior research experiences provide some indication of a given student’s ability to handle the level of critical thinking necessary for success within a physical therapy education program.
In other words, while measures such as undergraduate GPA and exam scores on standardized aptitude tests are helpful in the selection process, they are certainly finite and incomplete measures for predicting which students are most capable of handling the rigors of these graduate professional programs. We believe that undergraduate research experiences provide an emphasis on higher-order critical thinking skills that are often hard to replicate in other parts of the typical undergraduate educational experience, and these experiences typically translate broadly into academic success when these students matriculate into graduate professional programs such as physical therapy.
When viewed from another vantage point, the IJES may also serve as a vehicle for further refining critical thinking skills once students are enrolled in graduate professional programs. In this same vein, we also encourage researchers working with students enrolled in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs to publish in the IJES. Physical therapy curricula typically employ a research course sequence as part of the overall curriculum, as a means of fostering critical thinking skills for all students involved, and many projects completed in this manner are particularly suitable for publication in this journal. Many of the manuscripts published to date in the IJES are similarly highly generalizable to therapeutic exercise scenarios regularly encountered in physical therapy practice, providing a valuable resource for students and practicing clinicians alike.
The free, full-text format of the IJES further increases the attractiveness of this journal, as anecdotal evidence suggests that both students and practicing clinicians are mostly likely to use the resources they can access most easily. Thus, DPT faculty can confidently point to manuscripts in this journal as 1) resources for promoting evidence-based clinical practice as well as 2) an attainable target for publishing their own work. Realizing any of these aims on a consistent basis can contribute to stronger critical thinking skills and perhaps higher clinical outcomes for all involved.
In summary, higher-order critical thinking skills are increasingly necessary for success in professional health care careers. Changes in the contemporary healthcare system in the United States arguably make these critical thinking skills more important than they’ve ever been, as clinicians are required on a daily basis to evaluate multiple bits of information about patients with multiple-systemic health concerns and make appropriate treatment decisions based on this information.
We believe the IJES, with its emphasis on engaging undergraduate and graduate students in research and scholarly activity, is a valuable resource for promoting the higher-order critical thinking skills necessary for preparing exercise science students with an interest in professional healthcare careers such as physical therapy. This viewpoint is based not only upon our experience working with students who enter DPT programs possessing strong higher-order critical thinking skills honed through undergraduate research activities, but also partly upon the many research projects students complete in DPT programs that are highly suitable for dissemination in this journal. The IJES has much potential for strengthening the existing bonds between exercise science and physical therapy that benefit all involved.