Teaching Critical Thinking Within an Institutionalised Problem Based Learning Paradigm – Quite a Challenge

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Abstract

This paper reviews the design of a ‘Professional Inquiry’ course taught for four years to Information Studies students at Aalborg University, Denmark, within the pedagogical paradigm of Problem Based Learning (PBL). The course teaches students how to formulate research questions and scientific problems, and determine what is worthwhile knowing within the field of informatics. Assuming critical thinking to be an integral part of PBL, and PBL being an integral part of our university’s pedagogy, we did not anticipate the conflicts which surfaced from our four years of teaching this course, conflicts which are putting students’ cultivation of critical reflection skills at risk: (1) while project work revolves around real-world problem-solving, critical thinking requires inquiries into what we already know, the ways we know, and why we know and not know, hence implying continuous reformulation of the problem under research; (2) while making critical thinking the subject of a course gives this skill focal attention in a fixed period, it by the same time may give students the impression that it is something to get over with; (3) while to think critically require time to review past accomplishments, the continuous pressure to deliver on time invite students to shortcut reflection time; and (4) while teaching hours allocated to curriculum keeps being cut, students’ needs for being meet where they are, keeps growing
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education
Volume6
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)91-109
ISSN2246-0918
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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paradigm
Teaching
learning
student
Denmark
curriculum
time

Keywords

  • PBL (Problem Based Learning)
  • Critical thinking
  • professional inquiry

Cite this

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title = "Teaching Critical Thinking Within an Institutionalised Problem Based Learning Paradigm – Quite a Challenge",
abstract = "This paper reviews the design of a ‘Professional Inquiry’ course taught for four years to Information Studies students at Aalborg University, Denmark, within the pedagogical paradigm of Problem Based Learning (PBL). The course teaches students how to formulate research questions and scientific problems, and determine what is worthwhile knowing within the field of informatics. Assuming critical thinking to be an integral part of PBL, and PBL being an integral part of our university’s pedagogy, we did not anticipate the conflicts which surfaced from our four years of teaching this course, conflicts which are putting students’ cultivation of critical reflection skills at risk: (1) while project work revolves around real-world problem-solving, critical thinking requires inquiries into what we already know, the ways we know, and why we know and not know, hence implying continuous reformulation of the problem under research; (2) while making critical thinking the subject of a course gives this skill focal attention in a fixed period, it by the same time may give students the impression that it is something to get over with; (3) while to think critically require time to review past accomplishments, the continuous pressure to deliver on time invite students to shortcut reflection time; and (4) while teaching hours allocated to curriculum keeps being cut, students’ needs for being meet where they are, keeps growing",
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author = "Nunez, {Heilyn Camacho} and Christiansen, {Ellen Tove}",
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journal = "Journal of Problem Based Learning in Higher Education",
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AB - This paper reviews the design of a ‘Professional Inquiry’ course taught for four years to Information Studies students at Aalborg University, Denmark, within the pedagogical paradigm of Problem Based Learning (PBL). The course teaches students how to formulate research questions and scientific problems, and determine what is worthwhile knowing within the field of informatics. Assuming critical thinking to be an integral part of PBL, and PBL being an integral part of our university’s pedagogy, we did not anticipate the conflicts which surfaced from our four years of teaching this course, conflicts which are putting students’ cultivation of critical reflection skills at risk: (1) while project work revolves around real-world problem-solving, critical thinking requires inquiries into what we already know, the ways we know, and why we know and not know, hence implying continuous reformulation of the problem under research; (2) while making critical thinking the subject of a course gives this skill focal attention in a fixed period, it by the same time may give students the impression that it is something to get over with; (3) while to think critically require time to review past accomplishments, the continuous pressure to deliver on time invite students to shortcut reflection time; and (4) while teaching hours allocated to curriculum keeps being cut, students’ needs for being meet where they are, keeps growing

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