Embedding Critical Thinking in the Curriculum: Research-Oriented Learning Strategies that Foster Engagement, Critical Thinking, and Deep Learning

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From the learning design perspective, this poster summarizes and illustrates the discussion of critical thinking as a ‘way of teaching the curriculum’ (Case, 2005) that immerses students in a supportive and reflective learning environment and fosters engagement, critical thinking and deep learning. Such learning environment involves a set of research-oriented learning strategies with a critical-thinking approach that have been embedded in undergrad social sciences, self-paced, online courses, which encourage students to advance their critical thinking skills needed to develop a deep understanding of the subject matter. These open-ended assignments include but are not limited to the formulation of hypothesis, search strategy plans, the identification and definition of key technical concepts, the critical evaluation of sources, annotated bibliographies and research papers, all of them in association with tutor’s guidance, feedback and formative assessment. Embedded sequentially in courses, they are meant to build upon one another and engage students in their own thinking and reflection; foster a deep understanding of the subject; enhance students’ critical reading and writing skills; develop increasingly disciplinary skills and ultimately encourage students to take greater ownership of their learning. There is an expectation students would transfer and use these critical thinking skills across their university courses. Examples of Athabasca University courses where such strategies have been embedded will be handed out to participants. Initial anecdotal feedback will be discussed too.