Scaffolding students’ critical thinking: A process not an end game

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Critical thinking (CT) is an integral learning outcome for almost all university courses, yet little is known about how teachers facilitate the learning of CT. The visibility of CT in university teaching is often obscure as it is not always specifically explained, observable and measurable: thus, teachers encounter numerous challenges in teaching and assessing students’ CT skills. Employing 20 interviews and analysing 15 assessment tasks, this study investigated Australian university teachers’ perceptions of CT and how they integrate CT into their pedagogies in four major disciplines (Business, History, Geography, Engineering). The data from all disciplines included in this study suggest that lecturers have clear understandings of CT and adopt targeted strategies in their teaching, yet they perceive that few students develop transferable CT skills. The reasons given for this perceived deficit in students’ adoption of CT are predominantly student-related factors such as students’ poor motivation, the misconception of learning goals, and students’ lack of preparedness for higher-order thinking. The paper argues that teachers perceive CT as ‘a product’ rather than a developmental process, and that this perception impacts on their approaches to teaching CT. Teachers can overcome this dilemma by developing a culture of thinking in the classroom by overtly scaffolding students’ development of CT, thus making the process much more visible for students.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100848
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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