The teaching of critical thinking : reviewing the perceptions of educators in tertiary institutions in New Zealand

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Authors
Mehta, Bhavana
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Degree
Master of Education
Grantor
Unitec Institute of Technology
Date
2015
Supervisors
Hays, Jay
Emerson, Alastair
Type
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Keyword
Tertiary Education Commission
critical thinking
tertiary education
New Zealand
international students
educators
Citation
Mehta, B. (2015). The teaching of critical thinking : reviewing the perceptions of educators in tertiary institutions in New Zealand. An unpublished thesis submitted as partial fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Education Unitec Institute of Technology—Te Whare Wānanga O Wairaka.
Abstract
Teachers can inspire and motivate students to develop critical thinking. Successful critical thinkers can be successful and contributing citizens. According to the Oxford dictionary (2015) critical thinking is, “the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement”. In New Zealand education, the development of critical thinking is given utmost importance, spanning from Early Childcare education to tertiary education. Critical thinking is termed as a lifelong skill by the Tertiary Education Commission in the Statement of Intent 2015 – 2019. Critical thinking is one of the fundamental requisites expected of graduates by industry, business and employers. University brochures and websites in New Zealand assure the development of critical thinking skills in graduates. Critical thinking is deemed necessary for education, employment and successful life of an individual. In spite of all this, anecdotal evidence, reinforced by extant literature, indicates that understanding of critical thinking and associated development and assessment practices are inconsistent and deserving of further research. What remains unclear at present is the quality assurance for graduates who qualify the same level qualification from different institutions in New Zealand. This current study reviews the perceptions of educators about the nature of critical thinking and identifies the teaching strategies employed by those educators to develop critical thinking skills in students in tertiary institutions in New Zealand. The research results indicate development of critical thinking lays equal emphasis on the role of students, teachers and systems. The thesis suggests the Tertiary Education Commission may consider providing a definition of critical thinking across the entire tertiary education sector to maintain the common understanding of critical thinking among students and teachers. This research indicates development of critical thinking may be measured by mandatory introduction of a pre-critical thinking test and post-critical thinking test for all students in the tertiary educational institutions. Further, tertiary teachers face difficulty with international students. The research findings suggest introduction of critical thinking course for international students in the first year of undergraduate course to introduce them to the expectations of the educational demands in New Zealand and to begin developing critical thinking skills and dispositions early in their study.
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