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Abstract

Enhancing critical thinking skills for undergraduate students is important across the curriculum and between disciplines. We report on a method of improving critical thinking skills, which was studied through an Ethics and Science First-Year Seminar course. We used full cycle assessment over a three-year period to assess students’ development and to modify the course teaching and assignments with the goal of increasing student development of critical thinking skills. Data were obtained from student writing throughout the semester during each offering. Modest, but significant, overall gains of ~0.7 on a 4 point scale are reported between early and midterm assignments in the course using a seven trait assessment rubric. Key factors that contribute to the increase in critical thinking skills are identified including peer review, scaffolded assignments, and the use of a grading rubric for each assignment.

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