Successful Projects

Some Examples of Projects that have Improved CAT Scores

City University of New York (CUNY)

NSF TUES Project #0942790. CREATE Cornerstone--Inspiring undergraduates to persist and succeed in the Biology major. PI: Dr. Sally Hoskins Related Website:

The CREATE Cornerstone course adapted the CREATE approach for first-year students with the goal of building transferable science learning skills and deepening students' understanding of the nature of science. Students gained in critical thinking and experimental design abilities, and also showed maturation of epistemological beliefs about science (Gottesman and Hoskins, 2013,

Clemson University

NSF TUES (CCLI) Project #0837540. Development of an Inquiry-Based Cell Biology Laboratory with Emphasis on Scientific Communication Skills. PI: Dr. Lesly Temesvari ( or Dr. Terri Bruce ( ).

This project involved the development of a new cell biology laboratory course that emphasized critical thinking, effective writing and communication, and ethical reasoning. The new course used an inquiry-based pedagogic strategy allowing students to design and perform experiments in the context of mini research projects. Students also gained experience in communicating their findings through poster/oral presentations and through the writing of manuscripts in standard journal format. As a part of the scientific inquiry and communication processes, students also engaged in the discussion of the ethics of scientific communication.

Duquesne University

NSF TUES (CCLI) Project #717685. A Model for Incorporating Application-Based Service Learning in the Undergraduate Science Curriculum. Dr. Nancy Trun (PI) , Dr. Lisa Ludvico & Dr. Becky Morrow (Co-PIs).

Application Based Service Learning (ABSL) is a pedagogy that we are developing to address the need for novel approaches to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at the undergraduate level. ABSL combines traditional service learning with novel undergraduate research on a community problem. For the service-learning portion of the class, students spend a set number of hours throughout the semester in a specific community environment so that they learn about and understand the community problem. In class, the students conduct novel research, using the scientific method, on various parts of the community problem and investigate solutions to the problem.

Jamestown Community College

NSF ATEP Project #1204209. HURI SURI Helping Future Biotechnologists in Rural Appalachia HURI-up with Undergraduate Research. Jackie Crisman (PI).

HURI SURI at Jamestown Community College prepares a cohort of high school biotechnology instructors with authentic research experiences. These instructors teach a new interdisciplinary first semester sub-cellular biology course at their high schools which is infused with these research experiences. High school students taking this course also have the opportunity to do summer research at JCC. The project also provides JCC biotech undergraduates with a greater array of biotechnology research experiences on site, thus expanding the scope and depth of their authentic learning. In addition to on site research, JCC biotechnology students also participate in summer research internships at regional universities.

Northeastern Illinois University

NSF TUES (CCLI) Project #1140126. A Hybrid Course Model of Peer-Led Learning for the Social Sciences. Maureen Erber (PI). Linda Rueckert & Christopher Merchant (Co-PIs).

Peer-Led (PLTL) is a collaborative model in which a more experienced student (i.e., Peer Leader) guides a group of students through critical discussions of course concepts and facilitates problem-solving activities. Over the course of a semester, students participate in roughly 10 PLTL sessions and are exposed to a wide array of problems (e.g., “Think like a shrink”) in which they engage in conversations on controversial topics or are asked to solve statistical problem sets or to detect problems in specific instances of media misuse of statistics. This community of learners engages in critical thinking activities in a welcoming and comfortable environment.

Purdue University

NSF TUES (CCLI) Project# 941921. An Adaptation of a Research-Based Laboratory Model to Life Sciences. Dr. Dennis Minchella (PI), Dr. Gabriela Weaver, Dr. Jason Curtis, and Dr. Stephanie Gardner (Co-PI's).

The goal of this project is to introduce freshmen biology majors to the culture of scientific discovery by engaging them in authentic research projects as part of their introductory biology curriculum. This is an alternative to the cookbook/practical skills introductory laboratory because it not only provides the students with needed basic laboratory skills, but also enhances their scientific understanding and communication skills. Emphasis was placed on the following objectives: (1) Students will demonstrate an understanding of the nature of science, (2) Students will be able to critically evaluate information and design experiments to test hypotheses, (3) Students will analyze and interpret their results and make inferences, and (4) Students will develop and improve their scientific communication skills in both written and oral formats.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

NSF TUES Project # 000260456. The Development and Assessment of a New Test and Product Engineering Certificate Program. Dr. Tina Hudson (PI) , Dr. Chris Miller (Co-PI)

As part of this grant, RHIT teamed with industry to create a Mixed-Signal Test and Product Engineering course. In this course, students are required to use critical thinking skills to design tests that isolate the effect of multiple variables on the measurements of mixed-circuit integrated circuits and evaluate their measurements for sufficient accuracy while minimizing test time. The instructor models critical thinking skills early in the course and provides many opportunities for the students to practice them with problems of increasing difficulty on a system that provides immediate feedback.

Sam Houston State University

A multidisciplinary general education course, Foundations of Science, was developed to improve students'·critical thinking·and scientific literacy. The course is taught collaboratively by faculty in Geography/Geology and Biology. Dr. Marcus Gillespie·[GEO_BMG@SHSU.EDU] : Dr. Matthew Rowe [MPR002@SHSU.EDU]

In the course, students critically evaluate a diversity of extraordinary and engaging claims (sometimes controversial), ranging from astrology to alternative medicines to the lost continent of Atlantis to help them understand the relevance of science in their daily lives. Students work in groups to discuss various Case Studies (many designed specifically for this course). The course emphasizes the way scientists·think critically about information and ideas more than the facts of science. The course also incorporates discussion of common logical fallacies, and other types of reasoning/perceptual biases that can mislead us. Students are introduced to the importance of sample size, double-blind clinical studies, and the placebo effect during our discussions of alternative medicines and alleged paranormal phenomena. Throughout the course, we try to help students understand that they can use what they learn about science and critical thinking to help them make better decisions for themselves, for their families, and for society.

University of Central Florida

NSF-TUES CCLI Project #0941980. Learning Environment and Academic Research Network (LEARN): A Model for Retention in the STEM Disciplines. Dr. Kimberly Schneider (PI) & Dr. Alison Morrison-Shetlar (CoPI). Related Website:

LEARN™ was established in 2011, creating a small research community for 28 first-year STEM students. Learning Environment and Academic Research Network (LEARN) is a formal living-learning community with numerous benefits to the students: student and faculty mentors, 12-week research apprenticeships, specialized courses in students' resident halls, personalized academic advising, and scholarships. Studenst have demonstrated increases in critical thinking abilities. LEARN graduates have continued into research programs including, but not limited to: Stanford, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Berkeley.

University of Wisconsin - Madison

NSF-TUES (CCLI) Project #0737352. Teaching nature of science·and scientific inquiry in the context of scientific paradigms:· Assessing student understanding. Dr. Basil Tikoff (PI) & Dr. Nancy Ruggeri .

Excerpt from Course Description: This course is about how scientists figure things out. To put it more formally, it is about how people make sense of the natural world in the past, understand the present, and make predictions for the future. An integral (and interesting) part of this process is the different methods scientists use, the ways they work as a community, and how that community interacts and reflects the larger society... We will ask you to reflect upon your own learning process, and we will try to foster this through a variety of short assignments throughout the semester. Our hope is for you to reveal to us- and to yourself- what you learn over the course of the semester.

This web page will provide descriptions and links to approaches or projects that have positively impacted students' critical thinking skills as measured by the CAT instrument.· Some of these projects may be funded directly by the National Science Foundation others may be supported by the institution using the CAT instrument.