Making Critical Thinking Skills Training Explicit, Engaging, and Effective through Live Debates on Current Political Issues: A Pilot Pedagogical Experiment
By Yu Tao, University of Western Australia, Ed Griffith, University of Central Lancashire
We piloted a pedagogical experiment to find out whether students can benefit from explicit demonstrations on critical thinking skills through live debates between two instructors on current political issues that are relevant to but not necessarily a specific part of the curriculum. The empirical results show that, through a series of interventions in the form of explicit demonstrations and debriefs on critical thinking skills in these issue-based live debates, students’ academic performance can significantly improve over a relatively short period of time. Training students’ critical skills through explicit, engaging pedagogy is not only economical in practical and pragmatic terms but also has significant and immediate short-term effects in a setting where there is a high proportion of first-generation undergraduate students of varying abilities and backgrounds.