Student perspectives on critical and other thinking skills: Some cultural similarities and differences


The purpose of this study was to explore the views of students from different cultural backgrounds about “good” thinking skills, including those they perceive as required in their courses of study. Focus group interviews were conducted with undergraduate students from Kyoto (n = 8) and Okinawa (n = 7) in Japan, and from Auckland (n = 8) in New Zealand. Analysis of the students’ responses revealed commonalities in views about what “good thinkers” possess: these included many qualities associated with critical thinking. However, when specifically asked about the meaning of “critical thinking”, many of the students from Okinawa were uncertain, and the students from Auckland also referred to attributes not commonly associated with critical thinking such as intuition and positive thinking. The results suggest a need for more explicit instruction in critical thinking skills development as well as for greater clarity about thinking skills expectations in tertiary level courses.

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