Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10348/9227
Title: Promoting Critical Thinking in European Higher Education Institutions: towards an educational protocol
Authors: Elen J.
Jiang L.
Huyghe S.
Evers M.
Verburgh A.
et al.
Keywords: Critical Thinking
Teachers' Training
Higher Education
Protocol
Issue Date: Apr-2019
Publisher: Dominguez C., Payan-Carreira R.
Citation: Elen, J., Jiang, L., Huyghe, S., Evers, M., Verburgh, A., … Palaigeorgiou, G. (2019). Promoting Critical Thinking in European Higher Education Institutions: towards an educational protocol. C. Dominguez & R. Payan-Carreira (Eds.). ISBN (e-book) 978-989-704-375-8, Vila Real: UTAD.
Abstract: Critical thinking is considered to be an important goal for European Higher Education Institutions. To support the achievement of this goal, an educational protocol is proposed, which builds on all the outputs developed in the CRITHINKEDU project. That means, it builds on the reviews of the literature, the experiences with new approaches and on ample discussions in the project team. Considerations with regard to the CRITHINKEDU educational protocol As an introduction to the protocol a number of considerations are highlighted. These reveal the strength as well as the limitations of the current protocol. a. The protocol is not static given; it is a construction made at a particular intersection of time and place. Any change in time and place may result in changes with respect to both its particular elements and its structure. b. The protocol is the result of a European project in which a group of staff members of European Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) shared their scholarship. c. The protocol is fundamental and general. It specifies a number of essentials that may guide and promote the development of critical thinking. d. In assessing and using the protocol, the specific meaning given to critical thinking in this endeavour needs to be considered. e. Any initiative to support critical thinking must be of high quality. This means that in the design of the initiative, the best possible ‘evidence’ is considered. Similarly, it is presumed that the development of critical thinking remains consistent with highly valued ethical principles. An educational protocol to support the development of critical thinking This educational protocol reflects a historically situated, operational understanding of the theoretical and empirical research on critical thinking on the one hand, and actual experiences with developing critical thinking on the other. The educational protocol rests on two major claims: 1) students will develop their critical thinking by explicitly engaging in appropriate learning activities, and 2) becoming stronger in critical thinking requires repeated engagement in critical thinking processes. The educational protocol has three parts: goals, conditions and supportive interventions. Goals In order to support the development of critical thinking, critical thinking has to be a goal of education. This is shown by: • At the institutional level: A clear mission statement recognising critical thinking as an important goal and explaining how it can be accomplished. • At the teaching program level: A clear description of critical thinking as an important goal of the teaching program, detailing how it can be reached. • At the course level: A clear description of critical thinking as an important learning outcome, explaining how it can be realized. In the above, ‘clear’ means that an explicit clarification (by referring to the relevant literature) of the meaning of critical thinking is provided. In other words, the goals are explicit and transparent; they can be read and understood by all those involved. In the above, ‘important’ means that not reaching the goal would be considered a failure. At the institutional level, it means that the institution would not be accredited unless the goal was realized. At the teaching program level, it means that a student could not graduate unless the goal is realized. At the course level it means that a student could not progress unless evidence of critical thinking is provided. In other words, considering critical thinking as an important goal implies that it is part of assessment and evaluation. Given substantial conceptual and methodological differences between the fields and the disciplines, it is to be expected that clear descriptions of critical thinking as an important goal at the teaching program and/ or course level will vary between the fields and between the disciplines. Conditions Critical thinking requires that at the institutional, the teaching program and course levels, critical thinking is continuously and congruently allowed and made possible. ‘Continuously’ implies that the development of critical thinking is not a one-shot operation. Critical thinking does not occur automatically or effortlessly. It needs continuous practice, reinforcement and support. ‘Congruently’ implies that all actions with respect to critical thinking are aligned to the goals. Allowing critical thinking implies that critical thinking cannot have a negative consequence for the institute, its staff and its students. More specifically, it requires autonomy of the institution, the staff and the students who are enabled to think for themselves and with an authorial voice. Making critical thinking possible implies that the resources needed for critical thinking are made available. It implies that students can flourish in an environment that is well-designed and offers them the time needed for development. It also implies that teaching programs can operate within a transparent and open structure, and institutions can work within clear legal frameworks. Supportive interventions Research suggests that with regard to the development of critical thinking (skills, dispositions or combinations of both), four categories of intervention (to model, to induce, to declare, to surveil) can be identified. For all supportive interventions the rule is that the support gradually withdraws. • To model Critical thinking development is supported when the institute (through its management structures), the teaching program (through its representatives) and the course (through its teachers) shows what it is to think critically. This can take various forms. • To induce Critical thinking development is supported by inducing critical thinking. This implies that open questions are raised, ill-structured tasks are provided, complex problems are discussed and/or authentic, real-world issues remain at the core. What ‘inducing’ entails and how it can be done may vary for different fields and disciplines and may be done in different ways. • To declare Critical thinking development is supported by declaring or making explicit what is at stake, what strategies can be used and what criteria are to be met. Declaring can be either spoken or written, but in all the cases it is both explicit and specific. What ‘declaring’ entails and how it can be done may also vary in different fields and disciplines. • To surveil Critical thinking development is difficult. To increase the probability that sustained action is taken, surveillance may help. Surveillance monitors the ongoing efforts and activities, provides feedback on those efforts and activities and helps to keep the efforts and activities oriented towards the (development of) critical thinking. While differing in its concrete content and form among fields and disciplines, surveillance will always entail monitoring, feedback and orientation.
Peer Reviewed: yes
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10348/9227
ISBN: 978-989-704-375-8 (e-book)
Document Type: Book
Appears in Collections:DENG - Livro (Edição)

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