Physics Instructor Shares the Value of Critical Thinking

Published: April 23, 2015


Joe Heafner shares insight with STEM students.

Joe Heafner, a teaching fellow with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), recently spoke to science, technology, engineering and math students at Johnston Community College about the value of critical thinking.

Heafner's presentation was titled "A Workshop of Critical Thinking for Any Student Who Wants to Succeed."

Nahel Awadallah, director of STEM, natural sciences, physical education, and health programs, said students enjoyed Heafner's presentation. "I was surprised at how he used the scientific method to present on critical thinking strategies and turn the presentation into an engaging and dynamic learning atmosphere," Awadallah said.

Ann Calogero, biology instructor at JCC, said it is important that educators promote critical thinking to their students. "Mr. Heafner gave a clear and straight forward set of methods for students to use to develop their skills of critically thinking on any topic. He's ahead of the game in education and he can help us help our students."

Heafner began providing learning environments for astronomy and physics at Catawba Valley Community College in 1992. His approach to teaching emphasizes the model of critical thinking developed by Richard Paul and Linda Elder and the reasoning behind science, not just "plugging into equations."
Heafner was the first instructor in North Carolina to adopt Matter & Interactions, a reformed approach to presenting introductory calculus-based physics that incorporates computer modeling, among other things. He is currently writing his second book, which will be an inquiry-based introductory astronomy textbook.

Cut line: Science, technology, engineering, and math students listen to Heafner's presentation on the value of critical thinking.