Stimulating critical thinking using technology has the potential to create more in depth understanding of science and math content by students when engaged in learning activities which integrate in-class and on-line technology resources.
Technology tools support stimulation of both inquiry-based and critical thinking skills by engaging students in exploring, thinking, reading, writing, researching, inventing, problem-solving, and experiencing the world outside their classroom. This is accomplished through learning content through the lens of video to multimedia to the internet (Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement, NCREL, 2005).
The following are technological integration strategies for stimulating critical thinking and inquiry-based learning in science and math class.
Analysis of data is an essential skill science and math students must have for success in these two content areas. Examples of technology integration tools and techniques to support this skill include:
Online Data Bases – using real-time data has the ability to allow students to become comfortable with sets of numerical data and use it in meaningful ways. This is particularly crucial when students analyze large sets of numerical data to support developing the ability to draw well reasoned conclusions.
Spreadsheets – besides saving time and organization, spreadsheets stimulate critical thinking as students visualize a change in numbers and ask “what if…” This tool is useful in problem solving, science investigations, general math, algebra, and calculus. An excellent resource for strategies and techniques for integrating spreadsheets in lessons is Spreadsheet Magic by ISTE.
Project Based Learning – student learning benefits both academically and personally from their involvement in project based learning. Student participation in actual real-world learning activities encourages them to do their best work and see the relevance of science and math in their daily lives. Examples include:
- Project Based Learning in Math – a collection of six math projects
- Science Case Studies and Problem Based Learning – a collection of strategies and techniques for science project
Communication of Findings and Conclusions
Communication of findings and conclusions is fundamental to understanding science and math concepts. Without communication, there is no value to a learning activity for any student, teacher, or others. Examples include:
Digital Storytelling – linking project based learning with digital storytelling is natural. The integration of digital technology motivates students, allows them to easily share their work, and encourages collaborative learning. This in turn helps them develop a more in depth understanding of science and math concepts through a digital lens.
Google Docs – offer a set of collaboration and communication tools to help students acquire the skills necessary to help them soar in their education and outside the classroom.
Podcasts – students benefit from podcasting because it reinforces science and math concepts, along with their reading and writing skills as they prepare scripts.
VoiceThread – creates an interactive classroom which can be used in almost any science and math grade level. Teachers can use this Web 2.0 tool for digital storytelling of concepts by students, causing critical thinking, student project presentations, and even a tool for assessment.
Both on-line and in-class technology tools promote authentic communication and collaboration between teaches to students, students to students, and students to teachers. Also, these tools provide authentic inquiry-based learning, project-based learning, and problem solving situations which stimulate critical thinking in science and math.