Critical thinking

I attended a useful lunchtime session this week at the University of Lancaster (UK)  on the subject of criticial thinking – how to introduce it to students and how to recognise it.

The session was led by Jenny Moon, Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, Bournemouth University, UK, who is also very well known for her work on Reflective Learning.

The critical thinking workshop was based on her book ‘Critical thinking, an exploration in theory and practice‘ which she published in 2008. It was a very interactive session in which we were required to work through an exercise designed to introduce and improve the quality of critical thinking. The exercise that we worked through and others are freely available online at her website. Clicking on ‘Critical Thinking’ takes you to a document full of activities to work on with students. We worked on Resource 5 – ‘The incident on a walk’.

The idea of the activity was to take us through four written accounts of the same incident, each one showing progressively increased critical thinking. We read each account in turn, discussing in a group after reading each account the extent to which the account demonstrated critical thinking. This is a useful exercise as the comparison between accounts highlights the elements of critical thinking and how writing can shift from superficial critical thinking to deep critical thinking. The identification of these shifts then leads to a framework for critical thinking and its representations.

What was interesting about the workshop was how little talking Jenny Moon did, yet on leaving the workshop I could hear people all around me saying how much they had learned.  Of course each person would have learned something different. As Jenny Moon said at the beginning of the session ‘Critical thinking is a different thing to different people’.

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