The UCLL team (Belgium) organised a workshop on the 30th August 2018 for educational developers, with a short introduction on critical thinking, what is it and how it is included in many policy documents, such as the educational vision of UCLL. They brainstormed about ways education developers could stimulate critical thinking in students and how we could support each other.
Led by our coordinators from UTAD (Portugal), our transnational training course from Rome on “Guidelines for quality-assurance criteria in critical thinking education” was replicated/adapted in Vila Real, between the 4th and the 17th of July 2018 (see the video below, in Portuguese only).
It was a great experience!
Around 30 university teachers from different fields attended the course. The participants had the opportunity to develop specific skills on Instructional Design, Curriculum planning, Teaching methods, and Learning assessment. They re-designed one of their own courses within their domain-specific knowledge, by integrating strategies and practices to foster and evaluate Critical Thinking skills and dispositions. During the next academic semester, the participants will apply the acquired knowledge in different deployment scenarios. All this work will contribute to the CRITHINKEDU’ fourth intellectual output – the “European guidelines/recommendations for quality-assurance criteria in critical thinking education”.
Congratulations to all the coaches and participants from UTAD for the enjoyable moments of learning and exchange in Vila Real.
The CRITHINKEDU team
Between the 21st and the 22nd of June 2018, our coordinators from UTAD (Portugal) and partners from UOWM (Greece) and ASE Bucuresti (Romania) chaired a special track in Thessaloniki (Greece). The special track, named “Building Critical Thinking in Higher Education: meeting the challenge”, was realized during the 1st International Conference on Technology and Innovation in Learning, Teaching and Education (TECH-EDU 2018).
Relevant questions were addressed and debated during the 8 different paper presentations. You can find all the published full papers under this special track at our resources page (http://crithinkedu.utad.pt/en/resources/) and the respective presentations at our slideshare (https://www.slideshare.net/crithinkedu).
What does critical thinking have to do with real life?
It was the question that Lithuanian team discussed with students of social security studies at Mykolas Romeris University (further- MRU) in Kaunas. It emerged during the bootcamp “Critical thinking, labour market and media”, organized by Modern Didactics Centre in cooperation with MRU on the 24th of May, 2018.
MDC trainers and project participants introduced research findings, that encouraged to look for evidence of critical thinking (further- CT) manifestation in daily life. Students analysed their own CT perceptions and shared their learning experience. They argued about the importance of CT in their respective fields as well as in their personal life. Many good examples were presented and discussed in connection with realities of a modern life – confronting and misleading information in mass media; changing professional requirements; resistance to outside pressure and need for confidence; necessity to recognize manipulations and false messages in different contexts of our life.
The question, what does CT have to do with real life, did not convey any doubt about CT reliability or visibility, but focused on its applicability, scope and recognition at overall levels of society. Students wondered, why CT is so much valued “on paper” and so little in practice; why employers express demand for critically minded persons publically, but then there is a gap in practice, and so on.
Overall conclusion of the discussion – CT is a necessary ingredient of today’s life. Without CT we have less profound knowledge, are less mature and ready to live and contribute to common welfare.
Modern Didactics Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania
The Belgium team (KU Leuven and UCLL together) organised a follow-up meeting on the 24th April 2018, with the lecturers who came to Rome training course. They discussed changes or plans for changes in their courses, how students and colleagues reacted on the plans, the changes and how they coped with them. They also discussed difficulties they encountered and how they can be tackled.
Our TEI of Thessaly partners from Greece, in the person of Professors Ioanna V. Papathanasiou and Evangelos C. Fradelos, have organized a workshop on “Critical Thinking and Nursing Practice – Challenges and Perspectives”, on the 9th of November 2017, at Larissa, Greece, during the 18th PanHellenic Nursing Conference of PASYNO. This workshop were targeted for Health Professionals, Health Educators and Health Administrators. You can see the workshop materials here: http://bit.ly/2mi3wHo (only available in Greek).
Our partners from Belgium (KULeuven and UCLL) and Portugal (UTAD) have organized two lunch discussions in their institutions with the topic “Fostering critical thinking of students – how would you do it?”. These initiatives had the goal to stimulate reflections among the different teaching faculty on how to foster critical thinking of students. That students learn to think critically is desirable. However, sometimes it is questionable whether we succeed in meeting our expectations. How do we determine if students think critically? Do students get sufficient opportunities to learn how to handle problems in a critical manner and how they can have a critical view on the world around them? What do I do as a teacher to support their development?
These and other questions were discussed with around 80 teachers that have participated in both institutions. Furthermore, the project CRITHINKEDU and the main results achieved within the first and second intellectual outputs were presented. The two events were undoubtedly very enriching moments of mutual knowledge and sharing. It is extremely comforting to see and feel that there are many colleagues interested and committed to the quality of Critical Thinking Education in our institutions. We hope that this was just the kickoff of a great journey together!
Partners gathered in Santiago de Compostela, from the 9th to the 11th November, for the third transnational meeting of the project.
The agenda included the conclusion of the first two intellectual outputs of CRITHINKEDU:
- OUTPUT 1 – The “European Inventory of Critical Thinking skills and dispositions for the 21st century” proposal;
- OUTPUT 2 – The “Preliminary guidelines for quality-assurance criteria in CT education” proposal.
The full documents will be available soon at the website.
The meeting was also an opportunity to work on the training course for higher education teachers proposal, which will happen in Rome, the next January, hosted by ROMA-TRE partners; and to start the preparation of the CT Bootcamps for students.
Our UTAD coordinators from Portugal have participated in the 39th EAIR Forum Porto 2017 – “Under pressure? Higher education institutions coping with multiple challenges”. The conference was hosted by the University of Porto, Porto, Portugal, from 3rd till 6th of September 2017. In the person of Gonçalo Cruz, our team presented a work entitled “CRITHINKEDU: from labor market needs to Critical Thinking across the European Higher Education Curricula“. You can see the full presentation at http://bit.ly/2y12zrO.
Our spanish partners from University of Santiago de Compostela have participated in the “Critical Thinking in Higher Education: A closer look at teachers and students” Symposium at the 19th Biennial EARLIConference – “Education in the Crossroads of Economy and Politics – The Role of Research in the Advancement of Public Good” (EARLI 2017). The conference was hosted by the University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland, from 29th August till 2nd September 2017. In the person of Professor María Pilar Jiménez Aleixandre, our team presented a work entitled “Personal or Social Responsibility? Challenging Social Ideas as a Component of Critical Thinking“. This symposium had an invited discussant, Professor Jan Elen from KU Leuven (also member of our team).