A Study of Students’ High-level Thinking in Addressing Open-ended Problems: How Well They Do and How We May Help

A Study of Students’ High-level Thinking in Addressing Open-ended Problems: How Well They Do and How We May Help


Dr CHIU Chu Lee Julie (General Education Foundation Programme)
Dr LAM To Kam (General Education Foundation Programme)
Dr PANG Kam Moon (General Education Foundation Programme)

Date: 16 April 2018 (Monday)
Language: Cantonese

Is the ability to think critically important to students? How effectively do our courses help them develop high-level thinking? The Narrative Qualitative Assessment (NQA) research was conducted by teachers of the General Education Foundation Programme (GEFP), aimed to examine CU undergraduates’ thinking patterns when addressing open-ended problems. Applying the Wolcott-Lynch Model to selected term papers of the two “Dialogue” courses under GEFP, the team assessed students’ thinking performance by narrative description as well as categorization. It was found that some 80% of the students were “Confused Fact Finders” or “Biased Jumpers.” Students’ performance patterns seemed in a way pre-determined by the question design. Participating teachers gained new understanding of student learning and a chance to review what they expect of students and how they may redesign the questions.

The seminar will begin with findings on the characteristics of students’ high-order thinking, and their correlation with students’ overall performance in the “Dialogue” courses. Illuminating excerpts from teacher narratives and student writings will be shared. This will be followed by a look at an extended project, which studied how NQA-inspired question design may help students respond sensibly to a science-related controversial issue. Preliminary findings show that students were weak in identifying “uncertainties”; their performance could be enhanced or maximized by the use of appropriate “scaffolding questions,” and by engaging them in peer collaboration. Some key features of the project were reported in "Teaching and Learning Innovation Expo 2017" and can be downloaded from https://www.elite.cuhk.edu.hk/expo2017-papers.

Speakers' Bio

Dr CHIU Chu Lee Julie, Deputy Director of GEFP, and Dr LAM To Kam and Dr PANG Kam Moon, teachers of GEFP in the Office of University General Education, are core members of the Narrative Qualitative Assessment research team of GEFP. Since 2014, the team has been dedicated to qualitatively accessing the high-level thinking of CUHK undergraduates adopting a narrative approach and to analyzing their learning patterns so as to inform design of effective teaching and learning activities and hence to enhance student attainment of GEFP’s intended learning outcomes.