How we can get students to think critically and talk about it

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A key debate in HE is whether tertiary education sufficiently develops students’ skills in thinking critically (Huber and Kunchel, 2016). To answer this question, a cross disciplinary community of practice called CritTALK was established at Kingston University to develop critical thinking teaching practices. Their first discovery was the lack of teaching resources in the sector, despite evidence which endorses explicit teaching of critical thinking within existing curricula (Abrami, et al, 2015). A set of critical thinking teaching resources (Wason, 2016) which were tailored to disciplinary curricula and aligned to learning outcomes and assessment criteria were developed to address this. However, despite its wide dissemination, and training on its use, teachers said that they were often unsure of the pedagogical principles underpinning the toolkit and how to use the resources. A chance encounter at a conference brought the authors together where they decided to investigate whether the principles of dialogic teaching could provide the pedagogical support needed to teach criticality. Critical thinking is both supported by and developed through educational classroom discourse (Michaels, O’Connor and Resnick, 2008). This enables teachers and students to work together to reach a common understanding (Alexander, 2010).

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Educational Development for Preparing Postgraduate Taught (PGT) at Pace

Registrations on Masters programmes are record breaking this year. Students from home and overseas are progressing their studies straight from graduation or returning from the workforce to redefine career prospects. Many academic staff will be picking up postgraduate taught (PGT) for the first time, perhaps at short notice and potentially teaching a more diverse student cohort than ever before. They are looking for additional steer, recognising these particular students in these specific times need more than disciplinary expertise and great teaching to get the most from their studies. This blog is for the educational developer tasked with supporting those picking up PGT or preparing their PGT teaching at pace.

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