Fair Access and Participation to Critical Thinking
1. Clarity springs to mind.
It may sound simple, but it warrants some thought. If we in our own departments and between colleagues are not clear in our own shared understanding of critical thinking, how can we expect our students to be? Starting with communities of practice or departmental teaching and learning days can offer a space to bring colleagues together to discuss shared meaning, ideas, and creative thoughts.
2. Student appraisal
Secondly, having students assess their own appraisal of their critical thinking skills can be powerful. This gives students the autonomy to explain the extent of their understanding. I have worked on an audit system for a few years and this has been replicated and adapted across colleges across the UK with success.
3. A helping hand
Third, a specialised support system by way of learning development coaches. (HE is finally catching up with FE on this one which I am glad to see and myself be a part of). This support is more than an ‘additional add-on.’ Learning Development Coaches are able to get to the root of challenges that students may not necessarily reveal in the day-to-day lectures or group-based sessions.
4. Subject Specific
Having mentioned the developmental progress, offering subject-specific context is also key. I believe that the stand-alone session can only stretch a student so far. Subject-specific application has the potential for growth, richness in debate, and deeper learning practices which can be better aligned to the subject areas.
5. Critical thinking expertise
It may seem excessive (and I may be biased as a critical-thinking advocate myself) but each course would benefit from an analysis of their programme to see what is already working and what can be enhanced further for the next generation of critical thinkers.
In this fast-paced world where change is a constant, it’s time to give critical thinking the attention it deserves to help all our students to thrive.