Thinking critically about critical thinking in higher education

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Abstract: The literature on critical thinking in higher education is constructed around the fundamental assumption that, while regarded as essential, is neither clearly nor commonly understood. There is elsewhere evidence that academics and students have differing perceptions of what happens in university classrooms, particularly in regard to higher order thinking. This paper reports on a small-scale investigation in a Faculty of
Education at an Australian University into academic and student definitions and understandings of critical thinking. Our particular interest lay in the consistencies and disconnections assumed to exist between academic staff and students. The presumption might therefore be that staff and students perceive critical thinking in different ways and that this may limit its achievement as a critical graduate attribute.The key finding from this study, contrary to extant findings, is that academics and students did share substantively similar definitions and understandings of critical

Diane Goodman‘s insight:

This paper presents some interesting findings regarding assumptions about critical thinking in higher education. The study involves both academics and students and suprisingly there was some alignment in terms of definitions and conceptual understanding of critical thinking. The results indicate that students are more concerned with critical thinking outcomes whereas academics are more focused on the processes that underpin critical thinking. The authors suggest that emphasis on curriculum design that promotes critical thinking  will have a positive impact on both the products and processes of critical thinking.

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