A Measure for Scientific Thinking
The International Journal of Educational and Psychological Assessment, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2010
16 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2013
Date Written: December 29, 2010
The present study further explains the nature of scientific thinking by exploring and confirming its factors. Scientific thinking is defined as the thought processes that are used in science, including the cognitive processes involved in theory generation, experiment design, hypothesis testing, data interpretation, and scientific discovery (Dunbar, 1997). A scale was constructed where the items reflect the potent characteristics of scientists as identified from previous research. A total of 240 items were initially constructed referring to characteristics of scientific thinking and it was administered to 528 college students taking a science course. The underlying factors of the 240 items were identified using a principal components analysis. Analysis of the scree plot showed that four factors can explain the total variance of 60.94%. The grouping of the items was reviewed and they were identified as practical inclination, analytical interest, intellectual independence, and discourse assertiveness. These new set of factors were administered to a similar sample (N=1839) and the factors were confirmed using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). The results showed that the four factors of scientific thinking significantly increase with each other. The model also had an adequate fit (RMS Standard Residual=.02, RMSEA=.06, PGI=.95, GFI=.95). These domains can serve as pillars of scientific thinking and the results closed the gap in the process of identifying further characteristics.
Keywords: Scientific thinking, practical inclination, analytical interest, intellectual
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