Developing Digital Resources of Puzzles, Paradoxes, Provocations and Sophisms in STEM Subjects and Investigating their Impact on Enhancing STEM Students’ Critical Thinking and Analytical Abilities

Brief Description

The project has two aims: the first is the development of digital resources comprising puzzles, paradoxes, provocations and sophisms (PPPS) in STEM subjects and the second is an investigation of their impact on enhancing STEM students' critical thinking and analytical abilities. By a puzzle we mean non-standard, non-routine, unstructured question containing a twist. Typically a puzzle appears deceptively simple. By a paradox we mean a surprising, unexpected, counter-intuitive statement that looks invalid but in fact is true. By a provocation we mean a question that looks like a routine question but in fact has a catch. By a sophism we mean intentionally invalid reasoning that looks formally correct, but in fact contains a subtle mistake or flaw. The intention of using PPPS is to engage students' emotions, creativity and curiosity and also enhance their critical thinking skills, problem-solving strategies and lateral thinking "outside the box". Many would agree if students are interested the rest is easy. The resources will be developed in the form of e-books that can be read by e-book readers, on mobile, on tablets and will be placed on AUT Online. Their effectiveness in the teaching and learning of STEM subjects will be investigated via students' feedback.

Team members, their areas and roles

  1. Prof. Sergei Gulyaev - development of the resource on physics and astronomy, collecting students' feedback and presenting findings.
  2. A/Prof. Sergiy Klymchuk (project leader) - development of the resource on mathematics and its applications in engineering, collecting students' feedback and presenting findings.
  3. A/Prof. Nurul Sarkar, Dr Jacqueline Whalley, Anne Philpott - development of the resource on computer science, collecting students' feedback and presenting findings.


Supported by a grant from AUT Learning and Teaching Development Fund. In addition the Center for Learning and Teaching provides Digital Media time and Learning and Teaching Technology Enablers support.


Project leader – Associate Professor Sergiy Klymchuk