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Teaching critical appraisal to Sport & Exercise Sciences and Biosciences students

Centre for Bioscience.
Publication Date
  • Lb2300 Higher Education
  • Education


Seminars were implemented to develop undergraduates’ critical appraisal skills and their effectiveness was evaluated. Participants were 140 undergraduate students consisting of 103 students from Sport and Exercise Sciences and 37 from Biosciences. Four seminars were employed to develop and reinforce critical thinking and provide an opportunity for practise and group work. Source material included research proposals and published journal articles. Two linked pieces of coursework assessed critical thinking skills. Teaching method effectiveness was examined using the students’ questionnaire responses and comparison of coursework grades across the module. Students reported finding the seminars useful and helpful, and their self-ratings of critical appraisal skills improved from pre- to post-seminar. However, this was not generally reflected in assessment grades across the group. Overall, there was a significant decline in grades from the first to the second piece of coursework. However, although Sport and Exercise Sciences students’ scored significantly lower on the second coursework, Biosciences students scored higher. It is possible that this type of teaching helps to boost performance in students who originally are new to such skills. Future studies would need to examine whether different methods or longer follow-up might also yield improvements in objective measurements of students’ critical appraisal ability.

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