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EDU 555:


Article Review
Title: Students Critical Thinking Skills by Task-based Learning in
Chemistry Experiment Teaching

Mr. Mohamad Hisyam Ismail

Nur Syakirah Binti Mohamad Yusof

The article, Developing Students Critical Thinking Skills by Task-Based Learning in

Chemistry Experiment Teaching was written by Qing Zhou, Qiuyan Huang and Hong Tian in
2013. This article is about Task-Based Learning (TBL), which is an approach that can be
used by the teachers to teach in Chemistry experiment class. The article studies about how
Task-Based Learning (TBL) affects the students critical thinking in Chemistry experiment.
119 students were selected for this study where the students are 17 to 19 years old students
from Yujin Middle School, Xian, Shaanxi Province, China. The students learnt with the same
teacher but different approaches where 59 students learnt using Task-Based Learning (TBL)
approach and the other 60 students learnt by lectures. In this article, Task-Based Learning
(TBL) is defined as an approach which requires the student to be active in class, performing
the task given by the teacher and the teacher will be the facilitator to help and guide the
students. Meanwhile, critical thinking is defined by Ennis (1991) as cited in Zhou, Huang &
Tian (2013) as a reflective thinking which is reasonable that focus on making decisions on
what to believe or do. As stated in Zhou, Huang & Tian (2013), great critical thinking requires
both Critical Thinking Skills (CTS) which consists of interpretation, analysis, evaluation,
inference, explanation and self-regulation and Critical Thinking Dispositions (CTD) which







systematicity and self-confidence (Margaret & Colucciello, 1997). Task-Based Learning (TBL)
was suggested to be used in Chemistry experiment to help teachers in enhancing the
students critical thinking, since science education should have a very important dimension
which is critical thinking, another approach such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is not
really suitable anymore for Chemistry experiment and Task-Based Learning (TBL) plays an
important role in strengthening students cooperation in performing the task.
In this article, it is stated that science education should have an important dimension
which is critical thinking (Bailin, 2002) as cited in Zhou, Huang & Tian (2013). I agree that
students should be able to think critically because it has been embedded to provide students
with the scientific skills such as asking questions, predicting, analyzing and others (Zhou,

Huang & Tian, 2013). According to Gunn, Grigg & Pomahac, (2008), the curriculum in
science stresses more on the metacognitive consciousness of the learners where the
learners will question themselves not only What is it?, but also understand How is it? as
one of the important aspect in learning and the learners are already in the process of critical
thinking. Gunn, Grigg & Pomahac, (2008) also stated that diverse learning practices are
required to build scientific literacy where students will have to ponder about what happen
around them and this will yield the opportunities for the students to think critically. The
scientific literacy means the combination of attitudes, skills and knowledge that are related to
science that can help the students to be able to make decisions, solving problems and
develop inquiries Gunn, Grigg & Pomahac, 2008).
Other than that, Zhou, Huang & Tian (2013) wrote that Task-Based Learning (TBL) is
more appropriate to be used in Chemistry experiment rather than Problem-Based Learning
(PBL). I also share the same thought as the authors as I read about Task-Based Learning
(TBL) because the teachers do not need to move around too much when Task-Based
Learning (TBL) is used in the class compared to Problem-Based Learning (Zhou, Huang &
Tian, 2013). This is because Problem-Based Learning (PBL) requires a teacher as a
facilitator for each small group while Task-Based Learning (TBL) only requires a teacher to
facilitate many small groups in the class. Task-Based Learning (TBL) can make the learning
in the class to be more proactive because the task given is used as the driving force in the
learning process. In this case, the students will used any kind of resources and knowledge
they have at the moment in order to solve the task and the students unknowingly learn and
explore independently, by themselves (Zhou, Huang & Tian, 2013). This is supported by Ellis
(n.d.), by stating that the topic development will be controlled by the students instead of the
teacher when Task-Based Learning (TBL) is used in the class. Students will be able to apply
the knowledge they knew in solving the task and not having any restrictions where the
students can choose and use their own method to solve the task given instead of following
the methods provided by the teacher.

Besides that, Zhou, Huang & Tian (2013) stated that the teamwork between
the team members can be nurture by Task-Based Learning (TBL). The collaboration among
the students and also the between the students and the teacher constructs the knowledge of
the students. The students are not only focusing on how to solve the task given, but they also
learn the mechanisms and concepts while solving the task. The students will know how to
apply the concepts in certain topics and improve in both qualitative improvement and also
quantitative improvement (Rania et al., 2015). Qualitative improvement means that the
students will be able to answer more difficult questions or tasks in the future; meanwhile the
quantitative improvement is when the students are able to solve the task in less time than the
other group. Task-Based Learning (TBL) helps students to be capable of working together as
a high-performance team (Takashi, 2008). They will always work together to solve the
problems and even if they get good results or bad results, they will always evaluate their
works and how they work as a team and improve their cooperation to become better.
In my opinion, the audiences now will have a glimpse of knowledge about Task-Based
Learning (TBL). One of them is chosen to answer the question on how Task-Based Learning
is implemented in the class. She understands the concept of Task-Based Learning (TBL) and
provided an example where the students are given a movie to watch and they need to review
the movie. As they watch the movie, they can actually grab the concepts and knowledge that
are underlying along the movie such as the genre of the movie, the casts and more.
In conclusion, there are many approaches to be used in teaching and learning
process in the class and Task-Based Learning (TBL) is one of them. Since Task-Based
Learning (TBL) provides real-life situations to the students, they are able to think more
critically and creatively. Therefore, Task-Based Learning is good to be used in Chemistry

1. Ellis, R. (n.d) The Methodology of Task Based Learning
2. Gunn, T. M., Grigg, L. M., & Pomahac, G. A. (2008). Critical thinking in science
education: Can bioethical issues and questioning strategies increase scientific
understandings? The Journal of Educational Thought, 42(2), 165-183. Retrieved from
3. Rania, N., et al. (2015). "Team-based Learning: Enhancing Academic Performance of
Psychology Students." Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 174: 946-951.
4. Takahashi, Y. (2008). "Problem-based Learning and Task-based Learning: A Practical
Synthesis." The Kaohsiung Journal of Medical Sciences 24(3, Supplement): S31-S33.
5. 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.