Promoting 21st century skills: Self-directed Research for Senior Secondary Students

Promoting 21st century skills: Self-directed Research for Senior Secondary Students

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Promoting 21st century skills: Self-directed Research for Senior Secondary Students

A new senior secondary study in Victoria, Australia –, VCE Extended Investigation –, provides an opportunity for students to develop, apply and extend knowledge and skills in critical thinking and independent research. Students carry out an individual investigation that focuses on a rigorous research question, thereby developing higher order skills.Critical thinking is a foundation of the study, requiring students to engage with a range of texts and to apply critical thinking skills. Students learn about types of evidence, strong and weak argument and reasoning, the differences between fact and belief and the kinds of questions that elicit higher order thinking.They design a research question, apply a research method and procedure, produce a 4,000 word research report and present an oral elaboration and defence of their research.Students undertake a critical thinking test, and are assessed on their skills of research, the depth of knowledge they acquire in their chosen field of investigation and their ability to communicate findings.This paper presents the new forms of assessment in the study, in particular the online critical thinking test. It explores the opportunities for learning and the challenges for assessment in a study that contains no prescribed curriculum content.Key words: critical thinking, independent research, extended investigation.

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