Developing Students’ Critical Thinking Skills by Task-Based Learning in Chemistry Experiment Teaching


Task-Based Learning (TBL) is a student-centered, teacher-guided and task-performed teaching approach. This study was aimed to investigate the effects of task-based learning (TBL) in chemistry experiment teaching on promoting high school students’ critical thinking skills in Xi’an, China. To achieve the aims, a pre-test and post-test experimental design with an experimental group and a control group was employed. Students in the experimental group were taught with TBL, while students in the control group were taught with lecturing teaching methods. Five chemical experiments were selected, and 119 students aged at 17 - 19 voluntarily participated in the research which lasted one semester. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) was used as a data collection tool. Results showed there was an obvious significant difference (p < 0.05) in the dimension of analyticity in the experimental group after TBL, while there were no significant differences in the total score, the evaluation and inference of CCTST. The findings provide an effective way for chemistry teachers to improve students’ critical thinking analyticity skills.

Share and Cite:

Zhou, Q. , Huang, Q. & Tian, H. (2013). Developing Students’ Critical Thinking Skills by Task-Based Learning in Chemistry Experiment Teaching. Creative Education, 4, 40-45. doi: 10.4236/ce.2013.412A1006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Atwater, M. M. (1996). Social Constructivism: Infusion into the multicultural science education research agenda. Journal of Re-search in Science Teaching, 33, 821-837.<821::AID-TEA1>3.0.CO;2-Y
[2] Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2012). The Australian curriculum science (version 3.0).
[3] Bailin, S. (2002). Critical thinking and science education. Science & Education, 11, 361-375.
[4] Barrows, H. S. (1986). A taxonomy of problem-based learning methods. Medical Education, 20, 481-486.
[5] Barrows, H. S. (1996). Problem-based learning in medicine and beyond: A brief overview. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 68, 3-12.
[6] Brell, C. D. (1990). Critical thinking as transfer: The reconstructive integration of otherwise discrete interpretations of experience. Educational Theory, 40, 53-68.
[7] Brookfield, S. (1987). Developing critical thinkers: Challenging adults to explore alternative ways of thinking and acting. ST. Paul, IL: Open University Press.
[8] Celia, L. M., & Gordon, P. R. (2001). Using problem-based learning to promote critical thinking in an orientation program for novice nurses. Journal Nurses Staff Development, 17, 12-17.
[9] Charen, G. (1970). Do laboratory methods stimulate critical thinking? Science Education, 54, 267-271.
[10] Choi, H. (2004). The effects of problem-based learning on the metacognition, critical thinking, and problem solving process of nursing students. Taehan KAnho Hakhoe Chi, 34, 712-721.
[11] Choi, E., Lindquist, R., & Song. Y. (in Press). Effects of problem-based learning vs. traditional lecture on Korean nursing students’ critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-directed learning. Nurse Education Today.
[12] Clark, J., Scarino, A., & Brownell, J. (1994). Improving the quality of learning: A framework for target-oriented curriculum renewal. Hong Kong: Institute of Language in Education,
[13] Cook, M., & Moyle, K. (2002). Students’ evaluation of problem-based learning. Nurse Education Today, 22, 330-339.
[14] Curriculum Planning & Development Division. (2007). Science syllabus lower secondary express/normal (academic).
[15] Department for Education. (1999). The national curriculum for England science. London: Depended for Education and Employment & Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
[16] Evren, A., Bati, K., & Yilmaz, S. (2012). The effect of using v-diagrams in science and technology laboratory teaching on preservice teachers’ critical thinking disposition. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 2267-2272.
[17] Ennis, R. (1991). Critical thinking: A streamlined conception. Teaching Philosophy, 14, 15-24.
[18] Facione, N. C., & Facione, P. A. (1997) Critical thinking assessment in nursing education programs: An aggregate data analysis. Millbrae, California, IL: California Academic Press.
[19] Facione, P. A. (1990). Critical thinking: A statement of expert consensus for purposes of educational assessment and instruction. Millbrae, California, IL: California Academic Press.
[20] Facione, P. A., & Facione, N. C. (1994). The california critical thinking skills test: Test manual. Millbrae, California. IL: California Academic Press.
[21] Gass, S., Mackey, A., & Feldman, L. R. (2011). Task-Based Interactions in Classroom and Laboratory Settings. Language learning, 61, 189-220.
[22] Harden, R. M., Crosby, J., Davis, M. H., & Struthers, A. D. (2000). Task-based learning: The answer to integration and problem-based learning in the clinical years. Medical Education, 34, 391-397.
[23] Hashemi, M., Azizinezhad, M., & Darvishi. S. (2012). Using taskbased language teaching, learning practically in English classes. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 526-529.
[24] Iurea, C., Neacsu, I., Safta, C. G., & Suditu, M. (2011). The study of the relation between the teaching methods and the learning styles —The impact upon the students’ academic conduct. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 11, 256-260.
[25] Joe, W. M., & Elizabeth, A. (1999). Problem-based learning: An outcomes study. Nurse Education, 24, 33-36.
[26] Kek, M. Y. C. A., & Huijser, H. (2011). The power of problem-based learning in developing critical thinking skills: Preparing students for tomorrow's digital futures in today’s classrooms. Higher Education Research & Development, 30, 317-329.
[27] Lee, D. Y., & Shin, D. H. (2012) An empirical evaluation of multi-media based learning of a procedural task. Computers in Human Behavior, 28, 1072-1081.
[28] Magnusseen, L., Ishida, D., & Itano, J. (2000). The impact of the use of inquiry-based learning as a teaching methodology on the development of critical thinking. Journal of Nursing Education, 39, 360-364.
[29] Martyn, J., Terwijn, R., Kek, M. Y. C. A., & Huijser, H. (in press). Exploring the relationships between teaching, approaches to learning and critical thinking in a problem-based learning foundation nursing course. Nurse Education Today.
[30] Colucciello, M. L. (1997). Critical thinking skills and dispositions of baccalaureate nursing students: A conceptual model for evaluation. Journal of Professional Nursing, 13, 236-245.
[31] McPeck, J. E. (1981). Critical thinking and education. New York: St. Martin’s.
[32] National Academy of Sciences. (1996). National science education standards. Washington DC., IL: National Academy Press,
[33] Norris, S. P. (1985). The choice of standard conditions in defining criticism thinking competence. Educational Theory, 35, 97-107.
[34] Ozan, S., Karademir, Y., Gursel, Tanskiran, H. C., & Musal, B. (2005). First graduates’ perceptions on a problem-based and task-based learning curriculum. Education for Health, 18, 256-271.
[35] Ozturk, C., Muslub, G. K., & Diclea. A. (2008). A comparison of problem-based and traditional education on nursing students’ critical thinking dispositions. Nurse Education Today, 28, 627-632.
[36] Rogers, P. (1990). Discovery, learning, critical thinking, and the nature of knowledge. British Journal of Educational Studies, 38, 13-14.
[37] Seigel, H. (1988). Educating reason: Rationality, critical thinking, and education. New York: Routledge.
[38] Seymour, L. A. (1973). Critical thinking ability, open-mindedness, and knowledge of the processes of science of chemistry and non-chemistry students. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 10, 159-163.
[39] Siegel, M., & Carey, R. F. (1989). Critical thinking: A semiotic perspective. Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills.
[40] Tiwari, A., Lai, P., So, M., & Yeun, K. (2006). A comparison of the effects of problem-based learning and lecturing on the development of students’ critical thinking. Medical Education, 40, 547-554.
[41] Wang, S. Y., Tsai, J. C., Chiang, H. C., Lai, C. S., & Lin, H. J. (2008). Socrates, problem-based learning and critical thinking—A philosophic point of view. The Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences, 24, S6-S13.
[42] Wang, X. L., Lu, X. R., & Ze, Y. X. (2004). Applied study of the problem based learning methods for clinical nursing education. Journal Nursing Training (Chinese), 19, 968-970.
[43] Whittington, D., & Campbell, L. (1998). Task-based learning environments in a virtual university. Computer Networks and ISDN Systems, 30, 707-709.
[44] Williams, B. (2002). Development of critical thinking through problembased learning: A pilot study. Journal on Excellening in College Teaching, 11, 203-226.
[45] Willis, J. (1996). A framework for task-based learning. TESOL Quarterly, 33, 157-158.
[46] Worrell, J. A., & McGrath, J. P. (2007). Critical thinking as an outcome of context-based learning among post RN students: A literature review. Nurse Education Today, 27, 420-426.
[47] Yuan, H. B., & Qian, X. L. (2003). Application of problem-based teaching method in nursing. Journal of Nursing Training (Chinese), 18, 148-150.
[48] Yuan, H. B., Williams, B. A., & Fan, L. (2008). A systematic review of selected evidence on developing nursing students’ critical thinking through problem-based learning. Nurse Education Today, 28, 657-663.
[49] Zhou, Q., Guo J., Liu, Y. Z., Wang, T., & Ma, J. P. (2010a). Promoting preservice teachers’ critical thinking disposition by inquiry-based chemical experiment. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 9, 1429-1436.
[50] Zhou, Q., Guo, J., & Wang, Y. (2010b). Promoting preservice teachers’ critical thinking skills by inquiry-based chemical experiment. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 4597-4603.
[51] Zhou, Q., Shen, N., & Tian, H. (2010c). Developing critical thinking disposition by task-based learning in chemistry experiment teaching. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2, 4561-4570.
[52] Zhou, Q., Ma, L. L., Huang, N., Liang, Q., Yue, H. J., & Peng, T. (2012). Integrating webquest into chemistry classroom teaching to promote students’ critical thinking. Creative Education, 3, 369-374.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.