Learning Science Facts Doesn't Boost Science Reasoning

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TallyMan
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01 Feb 2009, 1:04 pm

I guess this is sort of obvious but an interesting read anyway. Interesting comparison between American and Chinese science students.


http://www.physorg.com/news152461628.html


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01 Feb 2009, 2:08 pm

reasoning is a mental process that can apply to any subject.



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01 Feb 2009, 4:31 pm

Logic and reasoning is essential to everyday life. It is one thing to know a solution to a problem, but it is another thing entirely to learn how to solve an unknown problem.



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01 Feb 2009, 4:42 pm

Interesting.

"Lei Bao, associate professor of physics at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said that the finding defies conventional wisdom, which holds that teaching science facts will improve students' reasoning ability."

What would Richard Dawkins think? :lol:



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02 Feb 2009, 3:57 pm

what would any of the great minds of reason think when confronted with this report? probably just roll their eyes and say "no s**t".



merrymadscientist
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07 Feb 2009, 4:06 pm

blackelk wrote:
Interesting.

"Lei Bao, associate professor of physics at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said that the finding defies conventional wisdom, which holds that teaching science facts will improve students' reasoning ability."

What would Richard Dawkins think? :lol:


I dont think Richard Dawkins would be surprised at all. He advocates teaching children how to reason and think for themselves rather than forcing facts (or fantasies) down their throats. Of course, facts are important, and schools should certainly teach to a good level of general factual knowledge, but learning how to reason and find out facts for yourself is far more useful in the long run. Both western and eastern schools are clearly not particularly good at this. My own experience is comparison between British and French modes of teaching science - the french know a lot more in terms of techniques to use and the factual knowledge, but are generally less imaginative and less able to develop their own hypotheses. I guess one has to be at the expense of the other given a limited amount of time. When a student studies science at undergraduate level things are very straightforward - learn facts and regurgitate them in exams - even practical classes are predetermined for fact-finding and learning. When the student starts real research (a PhD) there is a huge learning curve because for the first time they really have to think for themselves. Some make it, some don't. However, even outside of science, in the general population, reasoning and independent thought are important. I think the best way would be philosophy classes from age 11 - not so much based on the history of philosophy, but the methodology and its application to all situations.



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12 Feb 2009, 4:33 pm

Obviously depends on the university and undergraduate degree (and the amount the academic staff care)- My first degree at an "older" University required taking ethics or philosophy modules, much of the written work required critical thinking skills, making conections and balanced reasoning. My masters at a newer university is definately more "spoon-feeding" facts, extra reasoning/critiquing it sems is not a necessity.


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12 Feb 2009, 10:57 pm

merrymadscientist wrote:
I think the best way would be philosophy classes from age 11 - not so much based on the history of philosophy, but the methodology and its application to all situations.

I tend to agree. People really ought to be taught critical thinking skills, and english class (which is where they tried to do it when I was in highschool) was not the way to do it.


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17 Feb 2009, 12:41 pm

blackelk wrote:
Interesting.

"Lei Bao, associate professor of physics at Ohio State University and lead author of the study, said that the finding defies conventional wisdom, which holds that teaching science facts will improve students' reasoning ability."

What would Richard Dawkins think? :lol:



Last edited by slowmutant on 17 Feb 2009, 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

LostInEmulation
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17 Feb 2009, 1:14 pm

twoshots wrote:
merrymadscientist wrote:
I think the best way would be philosophy classes from age 11 - not so much based on the history of philosophy, but the methodology and its application to all situations.

I tend to agree. People really ought to be taught critical thinking skills, and english class (which is where they tried to do it when I was in highschool) was not the way to do it.


I agree that it shouldn't belong in English class but philosophy? Many critical thinking fallacies are unrelated to philosophy (statistical fallacies, also those, which were discovered in economics rather than philosophy).


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17 Feb 2009, 4:10 pm

Packing your brain with facts will not always lead to you being able to have wounderful and useful thoughts on the subject, but unless you know the field which you want to work on you will be doomed to repeat what has already been done.

I have had some moments when I have had what I thought was some great idea, I then discover that someone else had it years ago. It is nice to know that I was thinking on the right direction, but if you need to have original ideas it is a waste of time to reinvent the wheel.


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twoshots
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17 Feb 2009, 5:31 pm

LostInEmulation wrote:
twoshots wrote:
merrymadscientist wrote:
I think the best way would be philosophy classes from age 11 - not so much based on the history of philosophy, but the methodology and its application to all situations.

I tend to agree. People really ought to be taught critical thinking skills, and english class (which is where they tried to do it when I was in highschool) was not the way to do it.


I agree that it shouldn't belong in English class but philosophy? Many critical thinking fallacies are unrelated to philosophy (statistical fallacies, also those, which were discovered in economics rather than philosophy).

Basic logic and argument analysis are the domains of philosophy.


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17 Feb 2009, 5:35 pm

and giving a chimp 100 dollors doesnt mean it will invest it wisely


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17 Feb 2009, 5:49 pm

this reminds me of a book I read by nobel prize winner Richard Feynman called "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!". Anyways, there's a part in the book where he discusses his experiences working as a professor in a foreign country(Brazil I think it was?). Anyways, he realized that even though his students could ace his tests and practically quote the text books on command, they weren't actually understanding the fundamental concepts behind it all. He solved the problem by teaching them concepts in ways that were applicable to the real world. Once he started doing this, their science reasoning and logic skills went through the roof.


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17 Feb 2009, 8:55 pm

That was one of the things they taught us during out Junior and Senior years in engineering: China may pump out a lot more engineers than the US, but the engineers from the US were more sought out because we were taught to be creative with what we learned whereas most Chinese engineers just memorized A and B, instead of the path in between.