Using interactive management to facilitate a student-centred conceptualisation of critical thinking: a case study

Dwyer, C. P., Hogan, M. J., Harney, O. M. and O’Reilly, J. (2014) Using interactive management to facilitate a student-centred conceptualisation of critical thinking: a case study. pp. 687-709. ISSN 10421629 (ISSN)


Critical thinking (CT) is a metacognitive process, consisting of a number of sub-skills and dispositions, that, when used appropriately, increases the chances of producing a logical solution to a problem or a valid conclusion to an argument. CT has been identified as a fundamental learning objective of third-level education; however, students often report not being given the opportunity to adequately understand and cultivate CT skills. Though most CT interventions are designed based on academic or expert definitions of CT skills, students are rarely, if ever, asked to guide their instruction by describing their perspectives on what constitutes CT. The current case study investigated students’ conceptualisations of what constitutes good CT using a collective intelligence methodology, interactive management. Interactive management (IM) is a computer-assisted process that allows a group to build a structural model describing relations between elements in a system. Though decades of research on group decision-making in educational and social psychology highlight the many limitations associated with group problem solving (e.g. as a result of an over-reliance on heuristics, cognitive biases and ‘groupthink’), a fundamental skill for making decisions and solving problems is the ability to collectively visualise the structure of a shared problem, and use this knowledge to design solutions and strategies for collective action. Results of IM group work from the current case study revealed five core CT skills (clarity of expression, conversational skill, inference, evaluation, and explanation), five CT dispositions (detachment, listening, systematicity, recognising uncertainty, and self-questioning) and fourteen structural relationships among them. The ability to detach, listen and engage in conversation with others, were seen as fundamental drivers of all other competencies in the system. Results are discussed in light of research and theory on CT and best practice for CT instruction.

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