Teaching component: Students were taught to use the attitudes of curiosity, skepticism and humility before nature. They were taught the three descriptive research procedures of case study, surveys and naturalistic observation. They were then taught how to determine the strengths of relationships using the correlation. Finally they learned the powerful experimental method to tease out cause and effect on behavior. Related topics include the following: hypothesis, theory, empirical versus subjective observations, experimental and control conditions or groups, independent and dependent variables, placebo effect, extraneous variables, single and double blind procedures, descriptive statistics of the mean, median and mode, range and standard deviation, and inferential statistics such as population, representative sample, regression to the mean, generalization of findings and statistical significance. Instructional modules included the following: lectures, films, worksheets with peers and groups, homework, online assignment of being a subject in a virtual experiment, application of knowledge to new examples. Students were engaged in critical thinking and used reasoning in group discussions and creative thinking in preparing their oral reports.

Construction of the assessment instrument of critical thinking in psychology

At first, a general test of critical thinking was located in the Cognitive Assessments section of a psychological tests catalogue. The test was published and distributed by the PsychCorp Center and required administration by a psychological examiner. Although it had fairly high validity and reliability, it was not the subject specific test needed for this study. Therefore, two critical thinking tests were constructed to be administered at the beginning and the end of the spring 2005 semester in Psy150-09. Critical reasoning and empiricism were emphasized throughout the course and right before the post test a handout about the scientific method was distributed. These three papers, the Critical Thinking Pretest (1) and the Critical Thinking Post Test (2) and the scientific method handout are attached. The test content was designed to measure the following specific research and reasoning skills.

Understanding the reason or purpose of the article

Point of view- examines perceptual viewpoints of people involved

Data interpretation- examines scores and information

Terms and concepts- recognizes meanings

Assumptions- explains things taken for granted

Conclusions- Follows results of data

Directions were to read a research article and then answer seven multiple choice questions and three essay questions. These topics are as follows: recognizing an experimental hypothesis, differentiating experimental and control group, differentiating independent and dependent variables, interpreting the meaning of a statistical significant difference, interpreting a negative correlation, discussing the main conclusion(s), assumption(s) and point(s) of view of a research article.

Results

Table 1 shows the raw scores and Table 2 shows the statistics of mean, variances and t test. The statistical null hypothesis was rejected, Xpost - Xpre=0. The t test results are: t=1.92, p<.05 (df=34) two tailed test. These findings indicate that students scored