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Supporting the development of critical thinking: Lessons for widening participation

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This article reflects on findings from a study that explored how a pedagogical tool called the ‘Study Diamond’ was used and applied in the context of an Open University (OU) Level 1 Introductory (multidisciplinary) Arts Module. It considers how the findings from that study contribute to an articulation of the principles that underpin critical thinking, given that the concept is frequently debated and yet remains perplexing or fuzzy at best for students and tutors alike. Thus framed around perceptions of critical thinking that appear in the literature, and given that the study population is drawn from an ‘access’ audience, the pedagogy of the Study Diamond is considered in the context of teaching and learning and questions that arise from higher education’s (HE) approach to the widening participation (WP) policy agenda. Further, a case is made for the notion that when criticality is an embedded learning objective in a course and when students are given a process through which they are encouraged to challenge their own and others’ perceptions and responses to phenomenon, learning transformation can occur.
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Keywords: access curriculam; critical thinking; widening participation

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2012

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  • The journal is based on the belief that there are neglected links between research and theory, and policy and practice in the promotion of widening participation in post-compulsory education and lifelong learning. It aims to provide a forum for the development of theory, the addressing of policy questions and the dissemination of innovative practice in the field of widening participation and lifelong learning.
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