22 SES 13 D, Critical Thinking in Higher Education
The study used a multi-method qualitative study, involving in-depth, semi-structured interviewing (Fontana & Frey 2003) together with documentary analysis (Prior 2003) and an in-depth review of student work. Three academics from each of 10-15 Schools in the University, representing a range of disciplines or subject areas, were interviewed in order to explore their understandings of critical thinking as both a generic and a discipline/ subject-specific attribute. Selected module descriptors and their associated assessment tasks were analysed in order to ascertain whether and to what extent critical thinking is made explicit as a learning outcome. Following the consent of students, module co- ordinators, the Head of School and the UCD Registrar, students’ assessed work for a selection of the modules reviewed was analysed for evidence of how critical thinking is realised by students and recognised and marked by academics. The study had developed a model that can be used to conceptualize critical thinking based on the work of Karl Maton from a synthesis of all the data. It proposes that this model can be used in explicating critical thinking in the design of modules, assessment task and in the analysis and grading of student work.
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