Scientific thinking in University education

Learning a scientific way of thinking and understanding the nature of knowledge are most central aims of University education. Students are expected to understand the nature of scientific knowledge on all  disciplinary areas and to receive understanding how it is created. Anyway, it is known that all university students do not learn the scientific way of thinking during their studies (Murtonen & Salmento, 2019; Murtonen, 2015; Evens, Verburgh & Elen 2013; Kuhn & Pearsall 2000). This module aims to support teachers to deepen understanding of the phenomena of scientific thinking and perceive the most general problems students face in learning scientific thinking skills. This way, teachers are able to develop their own teaching by including the aspects that will support students to learn scientific thinking skills.

LEARNING OUTCOMES: Taking this module gives you competencies to:

  • Reflect your own conceptions of scientific thinking
  • Understand the phenomenon both from teachers´ and students’ perspective
  • Perceive the most general problems students face in learning the scientific way of thinking
  • Plan your teaching in a way that will support your students to learn scientific thinking skills

Before studying the materials take the quiz to find out what is your approach to scientific thinking as a teacher. The aim of the quiz is to support you to reflect your own conceptions of what scientific thinking is and what are the scientific thinking skills that you think your students´ should learn. Contrary for “exact truths”, the results are playful and the aim is only to give keys to reflect yourself as a scientific thinking teacher. This will help you to study the other materials of the module. After taking the quiz watch the videos and read the articles.

The results of the quiz revealed some aspects about your conceptions of scientific thinking.  In addition to the result you got, your conceptions of scientific thinking probably includes elements of other aspects of scientific thinking too.  Please watch the video to learn more about these.


  1. Murtonen, M., & Salmento, H. (2019). Broadening the Theory of Scientific Thinking for Higher Education. In Redefining Scientific Thinking for Higher Education (pp. 3-29). Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Murtonen, M. (2015). University students’ understanding of the concepts empirical, theoretical, qualitative and quantitative research. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(7), 684-698.


  1. Salmento, H., & Murtonen, M. (2019). The Roles of Epistemic Understanding and Research Skills in Students’ Views of Scientific Thinking. In Redefining Scientific Thinking for Higher Education (pp. 31-57). Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Balloo, K., Pauli, R., & Worrell, M. (2016). Individual differences in psychology undergraduates’ development of research methods knowledge and skills. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 217, 790-800.
  3. Hyytinen, H., Toom, A., & Postareff, L. (2018). Unraveling the complex relationship in critical thinking, approaches to learning and self-efficacy beliefs among first-year educational science students. Learning and Individual Differences, 67, 132-142.


Content: Heidi Salmento, University of Turku & Mari Murtonen, Tampere University and University of Turku

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