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The Barriers to Critical Thinking

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Abstract: The importance of critical thinking being a crucial element of learning in higher education requires a coherent gist upon accommodating the progression of this competence within the required course. This paper explains the significance of critical thinking in higher education and the challenges that students have in applying critical thinking. Findings from short research indicate students’ comprehension of what critical thinking truly entails. The presupposition might consequently be that staff and students assimilate critical thinking in a dissimilar manner and that this may limit its attainment as a critical graduate character. The key conclusion from this study, contrary to extant results, is that faculty and students did relate substantively comparable readings and comprehensions of critical thinking.

Critical thinking is a fundamental aspect of higher education in both evaluation and consideration as well, motivating students to ameliorate their eclectic method and thought process skills. These skills can also heighten their proficiency rate. The assessing guidelines for higher education evaluation highlight the importance of evaluating the extent of critical thinking in many of its factors. Despite this importance, many students endeavor to presume and appraise critically. Examples of this can be seen in students’ dissertations, specifically in literature reviews and analysis studies. Feedback from lecturers often includes the comment: ‘not enough analysis’.

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The objective of this analysis is to look at the pertinence of critical thinking in higher education. It should also be noticed that the study does not aspire to measure critical thinking in higher education students, categorically the core of this report is to acquaint the outcome of observation of students’ basic elucidation of term critical thinking and to what degree they are competent to exercise critical thinking expertise.

Dewey (1909, p.9) interprets critical thinking as the “operational, perpetual and circumspect contemplation of a postulation or an ostensible form of information considering the factor which safeguards it and the further corollaries to which it tends”. Fisher & Scriven, (1997) interprets critical thinking as “intellectual and effectual elaboration and elucidation of ascertainments and communications, guidance and disagreements”. However, consideration is also an important part of the critical thinking process. The intellect establishes particulars within the existent erudition and standards through measured conclusions. Further, consideration discerns the circumstantial influence over the germane potential of two respective candidates’ critical thinking. Therefore, observation is a crucial feature of critical thinking. Thus, we ccharacterizecritical thinking as an ‘operational, continuous and contemplative approach of assessing views, summarising interpretations and contemplating particulars objecting to the prevalent ideology. This interpretation is correlated to estimate the critical thinking potential of university students.

Scientific study is the pivotal essence that prompts civilization towards precision. The course for trueness is generally a dreary technique, with a small number of amendments in the existent understanding. Therefore, critical thinking generally dealing with the concentration of contemplative evaluation mechanism considered as the formula to the realm of research. It is the practice along which the obscure becomes meaningful and the wealth of knowledge increases. Thus, the improvement of awareness mainly confides in one’s potential to think critically. Furthermore, critical thinking is one of the fundamental success attributes in any career, particularly, critical thinking carries out an important part in the areas such as law, political sciences, management, and policymaking. Students must achieve an effective level of critical thinking abilities amidst their higher education, which is generally observed as the key to a professional engagement. Therefore, critical thinking in advanced education is a key part of research despite the area of specialization a student commences. Furthermore, the progress in knowledge mainly confides in on the skills to consider cleverly established ideas resulted from serious critical thinking. Consequently, Fisher (2001, pp. 13) displays, critical-creative thinking as a source to the enlightenment of knowledge. This latest expression directly classifies critical thinking from solely being negative. Lloyd & Bahr (2010) claims that there are claims for contrary approaches between scholars and students concerning what happens in lecture rooms, especially concerning advanced thinking. Despite that, their research establishes that the high education and students did participate in considerably identical interpretations and considerations of critical thinking.

“Reasoning skill is integrated with what is being thought about,” says Willingham (2007). According to this definition, the writer claims that critical thinking is contingent on the circumstance, however, not a generic skill that is prevalent for all kinds of issues. For instance, the writer claims that a scholar who exhibits on American Revolution from both the British and American mindsets doesn’t even think to imagine how the Germans viewed World War II. Therefore, the writer confirms that “critical thinking is not a set of skills that can be applied at all times, in any setting. It is a kind of attention that the young generation can involve in, and yet qualified researchers can fail in. The additional conflict is that the thinking has a propensity to observe on the outside arrangement issue territory. Particularly this occurs because we delineate the issues established on what we currently know about the area. Therefore, a powerful knowledge in the area could potentially eradicate this problem to some extent. Hence teaching students to think critically is all about empowering them to utilize the best possible way of thinking at the correct time.

Studies by Hawkings & Pea (1987) established an understanding, which stresses an approach to establishing modern technology-driven programs for skill studying. The research straightens out the conceptual comprehension of science teaching and learning, however, demands to have a collaborative character. Gokhale (1995) claims that few studies reported on higher education in connection with the role of cooperative learning in reporting critical thinking. However, according to the writer, cooperative/collaborative learning techniques could help enhance critical thinking. The research confirms that students’ ability to think critically could be enhanced with the possible use of collaborative learning. In addition to that, multidisciplinary thinking could be enhanced effectively in a classroom setting with the help of collaborative learning. A new method was introduced by Bissell & Lemons (2006) for evaluating critical thinking in the classroom setting. The research showed the use of critical thinking in biology class. Bloom’s taxonomy has been used in this research to help establish a program by which

(a) critical thinking skills and content are the main concepts of the questions,

(b) help to assess critical thinking and content aspect by grading rubrics.

The authors outline that use of this technique has played a vital role in illustrating the program objectives, revealed student misapprehension concerning the program/course components, as well as enhanced student awareness of the thinking process. However, the outcome could be assessed for its circumstantial theme on just one area, that being biology. Evidently, the critical thinking expertise is circumstantial to appropriate context and it is rare to anticipate the same student to utilize critical thinking in two separate settings/environments. Consequently, the outcomes achieved from one lecture room may not be precisely applied to any other available obtained from a biology classroom cannot be exactly deployed to other departments. Additionally, the earlier research is effectively restricted to comprise benefits of cooperative learning in imparting critical thinking to the students. Therefore, the approach requires to be adopted in a cooperative learning atmosphere circumstantial for a particular area before it is utilized in any particular lecture.

In this research, almost one hundred and sixty-five first-year students took part. These students engaged in this research as a part of their development and learning on a study strategy and were enrolled on an information technology degree. The book used by this group is entitled ‘Critical Thinking Skills’ [Cottrell, 2005]. The book helps in maintaining students’ comprehension and implementation of critical thinking tests. It is the assessment of the outcomes of this specific investigation that are shown through this report. The test evaluation is based on the Likert scale. Even though there are different other critical thinking skill examinations inclusive of the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (W-GCTA), that main purpose is to evaluate the capability to think critically, the objective of this research was to establish students position of what precisely critical thinking is and the degree to which they are skilled to exercise this expertise.  

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