This qualitative study focused on the in-depth learning experiences of twenty-seven zoology students as they developed as critical thinkers. Data were obtained through annual semi-structured interviews, course documents, my own diary entries, and personal correspondence with the participants.
Why Higher Ed Needs to Bridge the Critical Thinking Skills Gap
In addition, a technique known as Interpersonal Process Recall IPR was used to stimulate the recall and the tacit thinking of four students during a 3rd year tutorial session. The guiding research questions focussed on students, their teachers, the environment, and the zoology curriculum.
In this thesis I take the position that the development of critical thinking does not occur in isolation; it happens within a community of learners. Vygotsky claimed that all learning is social in origin and that social interactions potentially transform the way people think. He advocated that rather than concentrating on what an individual can already achieve, we should emphasise their potential in co-operative activity.
His ZPD model represents the limits of development, at a moment in time, with the assistance of a more capable peer. In addition, the longitudinal aspect of this study offers something new; other research tends to report on critical thinking development over the course of one semester or a year, rather than an entire undergraduate degree programme.
The development of students as critical thinkers took time and was associated with some key curriculum and social experiences.
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These projects facilitated the development of an evaluative judgement necessary for critical thinking. There was also little opportunity to challenge or question information and student learning was largely reported as learning facts. It can also help teachers think about the most appropriate activities to create a ZPD for critical thinking and in doing so, develop students as critical thinkers.
We all endorse it and we all want our students to do it. We also claim to teach it. We have to start by formulating assessable critical thinking learning outcomes and building our courses around them. Still, we can find some common ground among them.
FOUNDATIONAL SKILLS SOLUTIONS FOR DEVELOPING CAREER-READY STUDENTS
They also concur that students have to critically think about something , which means students have to learn how to do it in a discipline-based course. Therefore, critical thinking involves character as well as cognition.
Critical thinking scholars also agree that questions are central to students acquiring critical thinking skills. We must ask students challenging, open-ended questions that demand genuine inquiry, analysis, or assessment—questions like these:. These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions that require your students to engage in critical thinking.
After giving an answer, students must also 1 describe how they arrived at their answer to develop their metacognitive awareness of their reasoning and 2 get feedback on their responses—from you, a teaching assistant, another expert, or their peers—so they can correct or refine their thinking accordingly. Some teaching methods naturally promote inquiry, analysis, and assessment, and all of them are student-active Abrami et al.
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Class discussion may be the strongest, and it includes the debriefings of complex cases, simulations, and role plays. However, debates, structured controversy, targeted journaling, inquiry-guided labs, and POGIL-type worksheets are also effective. Finally, we need to remember that instructors are role models.
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Students need to see us showing the courage to question our own opinions and values, the fair-mindedness to represent multiple perspectives accurately, and the open-mindedness to entertain viewpoints opposed to our own. When we do this, we should let students know that we are practicing critical thinking.