Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Critical Thinking Retreat: Using situated simulations to develop researcher positioning in master’s students

Critical Thinking Retreat: Using situated simulations to develop researcher positioning in master’s students.

School:  Moray House School of Education and Sport

Team Members:  Julie Smith, Edgar Rodriguez-Dorans, Andrew Drybrough, Sofia Shan

Abstract

The University of Edinburgh highlights in its Learning and Teaching Strategy, a commitment to providing research-led teaching to equip graduates with the skills and experiences required for an evolving and complex world. One such skill which many students struggle with is critical thinking.

This project, which has been developed from teaching experiences on the MSc Education (MHSES), aims to develop, implement and evaluate, in collaboration with students, novel and situated materials to support critical thinking skills.  We will develop a series of short video-based materials that will be used to support learning at a critical thinking retreat available to Masters students at MHSES. Materials will be designed to be available more broadly across the University.  Within the context of internationalisation, we can consider the role of socio-cultural influences such as language and identity as shaping learners’ approaches to critical thinking. Research suggests that as well as cognitive factors, student identity (as learner or researcher) can influence critical thinking. Related is the importance of situated or culturally relevant material in the teaching of critical thinking skills. We propose to teach critical thinking within authentically relevant contexts, allowing students to better identify their role as critical thinkers in these contexts. Students can then practice these skills using culturally relevant texts, alleviating the difficulties associated with (for example) second language influences on working memory and other cognitive processes. Encouraging students to then apply these skills to academic texts, in dialogue with peers and academics, will support them to develop a positioning of researcher rather than learner.