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The development and support of academic skills are paramount in the academic success of students.These skills could be developed earlier than higher education, through secondary education.This TEF judgement will potentially influence students’ decisions on where to study in addition to higher education student satisfaction which is measured through the National Student Survey (NSS).
Occupational therapy professional reasoning includes the ability to critically think, deciding on what is the best intervention for a client and being able to justify decisions.
Therefore, occupational therapy students need to be able to evidence their practice through critically evaluating the literature.
A critical thinker is an individual who will question what s/he hears or reads, and in addition, has the understanding to be able to achieve an outcome through questioning (Mc Peck, 2016, p.32; Brookfield, 2012, p.9).
Critical thinking is a key concept well established within higher education (Moon, 2008, p.6).
The NSS requests the views of undergraduate final year students (National Student Survey, 2018a).
The NSS can affect recruitment as it provides future applicants with a view of the programme that considers a variety of elements including teaching, assessment and feedback and academic support (National Student Survey, 2018b). It can change future education for new students, wielding current students with a role of power and influence (Morgan, 2012, p.148).
It is acknowledged that some subjects naturally have more of a tendency towards developing critical thinking such as Ethics and Philosophy, and perhaps entry requirements for student programmes should consider requesting specific subjects that nurture critical thinking.
However, dependent on the quality of teaching the student has previously experienced, there is no guarantee that an applicant has good critical thinking skills if they have for example studied an A’level in Ethics and Philosophy.
Mc Peck (2016) p.58 declares that secondary schools within disciplinary subjects are failing to develop critical thinking, moreover, teaching factually, rather than conceptually.
Therefore, students are obtaining knowledge but are not developing the questioning/reasoning aspect linked to critical thinking.