Can Methodological Applications Develop Critical Thinking?

D. Blackman, Angela Benson

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This paper outlines how using methodological approaches and research methods to develop critical thinking was explored. The consideration was that using different methodology might lead to a different understanding of the same question. Such differences could be explored, compared and contrasted in order to develop a more holistic and considered perspective on complex problems. There were two phases to the curriculum development. Phase 1 was an exploratory workshop used to identify that the use of methodology gave demonstrably different knowledge outcomes from the same problem. Phase 2 used the workshop outcomes to develop exercises that would enable the development of critical thinking skills using methodology as the framework, the exercises were given to approximately 370 second and third year undergraduate students; both formative and summative methods were used to assess the learning outcomes. One of the issues during the research was to define critical thinking itself, the four dimensions of rhetoric; tradition; authority; objectivity were used as encompassing the skills required for critical thinking. The findings are presented by using the four dimensions as a framework. The discussion comes from examining the assessment in order to determine whether the reflection that occurred as a result of the activity, then followed by the assessment, was developing critical ideas in an effective way. The second element of analysis was to establish whether the notions of differing knowledge outcomes, as a result of different methodologies effectively challenged student mental models of objectivity and certainty in methodological study. The paper concludes that such an approach can (a) develop critical thinking skills at a level of deep, rather than surface learning and (b) effectively challenge some preconceived ideas held by students about how knowledge is developed and shared. The crucial element of success was the design and implementation of the assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalThe Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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