The Effects of Using Newspapers in Science and Technology Course Activities on Students’ Critical Thinking Skills

Esma Buluş Kırıkkaya, Esra Bozkurt
**Asst. Prof. Dr., University of Kocaeli, Faculty of Education
***Phd. Student, Gazi University, Institute of Education Science

Problem Statement: In recent years, numerous scientists and intellectuals have started that critical thinking is one of the individuals can possess. One of the aims of the Turkish Science and Technology Curriculum is the development and enhancement of critical thinking skills. Using newspapers in courses helps students develop their critical thinking skills by prompting them to read, think about and comment on complex issues.
Purpose of the study: The purpose of this study is to use newspapers to organize activities in science and technology courses and to determine whether these activities affect students’ critical thinking skills. 
Methods: Participants in this study included 100 pupils who were in the 5th grade at a primary school in Kocaeli from 2009 to 2010. Two control groups and two experimental groups were selected from this school. The research was conducted with a semi-experimental model. During the science and technology lesson “Unit of Identification and Change of Matter”, activities based on newspapers and the course book were used with the experimental groups, while activities based on only the course book were enacted with the control groups. Fourteen activities were organized by selecting the outcomes inside the unit that were suitable for using newspapers. The Cornell Critical Thinking Test Level X was used to measure student’s critical thinking skills. 
Findings and Results: It was found that the difference between critical thinking skill pre-test and post-test scores favoured the post-test for both experimental groups. The difference between the critical thinking skill pretest and post-test scores of the control groups was not found to favour the post-test. The critical thinking post-test results of students in the experimental groups were significantly different from those of the control groups.
Conclusions and Recommendations: It can be said that the use of activities in course books, along with the use of activities organized around newspapers, effectively improves the critical thinking skills of students, compared with activities that are organized solely around course books.
Key words: Critical thinking skills, elementary schools, newspaper activities, newspapers in education, science and technology courses.