Life science undergraduate mentors in NE STEM 4U significantly outperform their peers in critical thinking skills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The development of critical thinking skills in recent college graduates is keenly requested by employers year after year. Moreover, improving these skills can help students to better question and analyze data. Consequently, we aimed to implement a training program that would add to the critical thinking skills of undergraduate students: Nebraska Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math 4U (NE STEM 4U). In this program, undergraduates provide outreach, mentoring, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to K-8 students. To determine the impacts of serving as an undergraduate mentor in this program on critical thinking, we compared undergraduate mentors (intervention group) with nonmentor STEM majors (nonintervention, matched group) using the valid and reliable California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) as a pre/post measurement. Importantly, before the intervention, both NE STEM 4U mentors and nonmentor undergraduates scored similarly overall on the CCTST. However, the posttest, carried out one academic year later, indicated significant gains in critical thinking by the NE STEM 4U mentors compared with the nonmentors. Specifically, the math-related skills of analysis, inference, and numeracy improved significantly in mentors compared with nonmentors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar54
JournalCBE Life Sciences Education
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

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Mentors
Biological Science Disciplines
life sciences
Engineering technology
Students
engineering
Technology
science
Education
mathematics
Mathematics
student
mentoring
Thinking
training program
employer
Group
graduate
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
Research Design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

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title = "Life science undergraduate mentors in NE STEM 4U significantly outperform their peers in critical thinking skills",
abstract = "The development of critical thinking skills in recent college graduates is keenly requested by employers year after year. Moreover, improving these skills can help students to better question and analyze data. Consequently, we aimed to implement a training program that would add to the critical thinking skills of undergraduate students: Nebraska Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math 4U (NE STEM 4U). In this program, undergraduates provide outreach, mentoring, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to K-8 students. To determine the impacts of serving as an undergraduate mentor in this program on critical thinking, we compared undergraduate mentors (intervention group) with nonmentor STEM majors (nonintervention, matched group) using the valid and reliable California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) as a pre/post measurement. Importantly, before the intervention, both NE STEM 4U mentors and nonmentor undergraduates scored similarly overall on the CCTST. However, the posttest, carried out one academic year later, indicated significant gains in critical thinking by the NE STEM 4U mentors compared with the nonmentors. Specifically, the math-related skills of analysis, inference, and numeracy improved significantly in mentors compared with nonmentors.",
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