Enhancing and Assessing Critical Thinking in a Psychological Research Methods Course

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This article presents an assessment of critical thinking skills and paranormal beliefs in students taking a research methods course. The course emphasized separating scientific claims from pseudoscientific assumptions and used real-world examples to teach students to think critically; however, the course did not use examples of the paranormal to teach about pseudoscience. There was a significant decrease in students’ paranormal beliefs at the end of the course and significant improvement in their abilities to evaluate psychological research; however, there was not a significant change in their general critical thinking abilities. In addition, all measures related to course performance, such that students who showed lower levels of paranormal beliefs and greater general critical thinking abilities at the outset of the course earned more total points. The author discusses how the course builds skills recommended for psychology majors and identifies areas for future research in scientific thinking and belief in pseudoscience.

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Teaching of Psychology