Critical thinking – overrated or under-utilised?

Does your course or topic have critical thinking as a desired learning outcome? It’s common throughout much of higher education, but how students demonstrate it and how we evaluate it varies, and do students even know what it means? Do we know what we mean when we ask it of our students?

A blog post from Dr Bruce A. Johnson explores critical thinking from both the instructor and student perspective. He suggests that often faculty, whilst having a general idea about critical thinking, frequently don’t move beyond the rubric in explaining to students what is meant by critical thinking. Students on the other hand have varied ideas about what critical thinking entails.

He proposes the idea that critical thinking is a type of thinking beyond automatic or active thinking. It needs to be activated for a specific purpose and learned as a skill like any other. In this way it can lead to transformative learning, and thus is not overrated at all but perhaps under-utilized because of a failure to properly explain it to students.

What do you think?

Join up: Our Flinders University 2025 Agenda commits the University to embedding critical thinking skills into all graduates. In support of this, an informal Office365 group has been established for academics interested in critical thinking to discuss learning strategies for teaching critical thinking; organise continuing professional development in critical thinking for the group; share experiences in learning and teaching critical thinking; and explore questions, issues, and problems related to critical thinking and the challenge of embedding the skills in students. Discussions to date have been robust and engaging.

If you would like to join this group, search for Embedding Critical Thinking Skills in All Graduates (staff only) in Outlook Groups and request membership. The group is open to all staff of the University.

Contributed by Cassandra Hood
Lecturer in Higher Education – CILT
and Dr. Steve Parker – Senior Lecturer in Nursing and Health Sciences

Posted in

Leave a Reply