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Critical Thinking in Education and Research

“Critical thinking in science”—isn’t this expression a mere tautology? Science, it seems, is always about critical reflection, is always about inquiring and questioning things rather than taking them simply at face value. Or is this just an ideal? Daily practices may often look very different. There are numerous constraints such as economic needs, funding and time limits, peer pressure, and ethical concerns. These constraints often discourage efforts to critically assess the scientific methods employed, the concepts presupposed, and the conclusions drawn. What is meant by “critical” or “criticism” here is the opposite of what might be called “dogmatism” in the sense of using (without questioning) a fixed set of methods, concepts, examples, and thereby losing the ability to view things from a distance and from different angles.

The aim of the current project is to increase the awareness of the importance of critical reflection and to implement and exemplify it on an university level by means of special interdisciplinary courses. Critical thinking is not an auxiliary activity to be performed “after the fact”, but an integral part of good scientific practice. Critical thinking is something that has to be taught to students and fostered at the university level. It has to be practiced from an early stage and, maybe most importantly, it has to be practiced in relation to one’s own work. Critical thinking is also about being self-reflective and about being aware of other mindsets—as opposed to merely being nitpicky when it comes to the work of others.

It goes without saying that a historically informed critical reflection on concepts and methods could never be a substitution for science. However, omitting critical thinking in science comes with serious consequences for science and the whole of society.

Examples of specific courses:

Publications and interviews:

  • Niklas Hartmann, Anne C. Thaeder, Jörg Riedel, Maike Piesker, Catherine Herbin, Hannah Mahé Crüsemann und Norman Sieroka (2020): Wer schreibt, bleibt: Schreibübungen und Peer-Reviewing im Tutorium zur Vorlesung "Geschichte der Philosophie", Resonanz (Magazin für Lehre und Studium an der Universität Bremen), Sommersemester 2020, S. 14-19.
  • N. Sieroka, V.I. Otto, G. Folkers (2018): Critical Thinking in Education and Research—Why and How? Guest Editorial, Angewandte Chemie (International Edition) 57, 2018, S. 2-4.
  • N. Sieroka, V.I. Otto, G. Folkers (2018): Kritisches Denken in Lehre und Forschung – warum und wie? Gast-Editorial, Angewandte Chemie 130, 2018, S. 2-4.
  • N. Sieroka (2018): Kritisches Denken fördern in Forschung und Lehre. In: Philosophie aktuell, Blog-Serie des Swiss Portal for Philosophy, 22.10.2018
  • E. Kut, N. Sieroka, G. Folkers, V.I. Otto (2018): A New Course Fosters Critical Thinking on Pharmaceutical Sciences at ETH Zurich. Latest News, ChemMedChem, Dezember 2018.
  • N. Sieroka (2018): Wie lehrt man kritisches Denken? Interview für den Podcast Kritisches Denken.
  • V.I. Otto, E. Kut, N. Sieroka (2018): Wenn aus Fehlern Fährten werden. Bericht und Interview über "Critical Thinking" in der Lehre in: ETH News, 27.02.2018.
  • G. Schiltz, S. Frédérickx, N. Sieroka (2017): Close Reading of Science Texts with Online Annotations. Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computers in Education, ed. by W. Chen et al. New Zealand 2017.
  • M. Hampe, R. Wallny, N. Sieroka (2015): Was Physik-Studierende von Philosophen lernen. Bericht und Interview über "Critical Thinking" in der Lehre in: ETH News, 26.09.2015.
  • M. Hampe, R. Wallny, N. Sieroka (2015): Warum lernen wir das eigentlich? Interview in: Polykum (Studierendenzeitung der ETH), 8/2014-15, Juni 2015, S. 10-12.
  • N. Sieroka (2008): Tückenreiche Analogien. Interview in: connect (Alumni Magazin der ETH), Nr.15, November 2008, S. 8-9.
  • N. Sieroka (2008): Der Urknall regt die Fantasie an: Die Angst vor dem Experiment des CERN. In: Tagesanzeiger, 23.09.2008.
  • N. Sieroka (2008): Das CERN auf den Spuren Gottes? In: Horizonte, 14.09.2008.
  • N. Sieroka (2008): Die Grenzen des Wissens: Religion und Philosophie werden die neusten Forschungen überleben. In: bazkultur (Kulturmagazin der Basler Zeitung), 30.07.2008.
: Prof. Dr. Dr. Norman Sieroka
Prof. Dr. Dr.

Norman Sieroka

Institution Philosophy (Phil BA)

Building/room: SFG 4190
Phone: +49 (0)421 218 67830
E-Mail: sierokaprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de


Universität Bremen
Institut für Philosophie, FB 9
Postfach 330 440
Enrique-Schmidt-Str. 7
28359 Bremen