Critical Thinking Workshop with Dr Paul WARING

 

Critical Thinking 1

 

On 26 February, the Division of Graduate Studies at the Faculty of Science organised a one-day workshop on Critical Thinking. The workshop was open to all graduate students in the faculty. A total of 20 students participated.

The objective of the workshop was to generate understanding of what constitutes good or bad thinking. It also aimed to help students develop the skills necessary for clear and logical thinking as well as to encourage the life-long nurturing of these skills.

The workshop was facilitated by Dr Paul WARING from Australian National University (ANU) College. Dr Waring was a research scientist at the University specialising in the study of toxins. He has authored and co-authored over 100 scientific papers. He has also delivered Chemistry and Biochemistry lectures to honours, undergraduate and foundation students. He has a keen interest in, and a broad understanding of the history of scientific thought. Dr Waring has delivered Critical Thinking courses since 2001 to a variety of clients, from government agencies to business organisations.

Students found the workshop helpful in honing their analytical skills which are critical in developing their research proposals for projects and theses.

Mr Sanzhar KARATAYEV, a Ph.D. student from the Department of Pharmacy said, “We are aware of the importance of critical thinking in conducting research or business. Through this workshop we learnt how to systematically break down arguments and evaluate their validity, among other things. Although such a systematic approach to thinking was not intuitive at first, it was surprising to see convincing historical arguments fall apart under closer scrutiny. In theory, critical thinking improves the quality of human thought and thus improves decision-making.”

M.Sc. Science Communication student, Mr Peter JUERG said, “Some of the exercises in the workshop were real brain teasers. In daily life we are so used to following routines. The change into a new world was good.”

Another M.Sc. Science Communications student, Mr LIM Vee Heng remarked, “Before I attended the workshop, my understanding of critical thinking was generally related to solving science problems and asking questions. Attending the workshop gave me a wider perspective about critical thinking, especially about analysing fallacies in arguments.  I learnt the skill of identifying weaknesses in arguments and how to avoid constructing arguments with poor reasoning. I also learnt how probability and logical thinking are essential components of critical thinking and how they can be applied to scientific reasoning, which is relevant in my teaching career. The workshop activities were interesting and very helpful in helping us apply critical thinking and logical reasoning.”

Due to the encouraging response, the Division of Graduate Studies plans on organising more workshops in the future.

 

Critical Thinking 2
Workshop participants working on ‘critical thinking’ exercises

 

Critical Thinking 3
A group photo of the workshop participants