Critical Thinking and Academic Writing for Teachers

This one-day course is designed to help secondary school teachers prepare students for academic thinking and writing skills required at university level study. This course aims to provide:

  • clarity in the academic thinking and writing skills required for study in HE; and
  • ideas for teaching those skills in a relevant and accessible way in the classroom.

The course is taught by UCL experts and is brought to you by the team that runs Englicious, a free online learning and teaching resource for English grammar.

This course is ideal for teachers who:

  • feel uncertain about their knowledge of critical thinking skills required at university
  • wish to refresh their knowledge of the conventions of academic writing in HE
  • would like to explore new ways of teaching academic writing and critical thinking.

About this course

A key expectation of HE institutions is that students are able to think critically about the discipline they study. Yet failings in the development of university students’ critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing skills are also widely reported. While universities recognise that students need explicit instruction in critical thinking skills, the ability to think clearly and rationally is generally not explicitly taught in most HE programmes.

The reality is that there exists a gulf between the study skills they acquire at school and those required at university, and that UK students struggle significantly with understanding what is expected of them in terms of academic performance.

This Critical Thinking and Academic Writing for Teachers course aims to unpack the notion of academic critical thinking into a set of subskills and show that they are unified by an adherence to an academic thinking culture that should run through every stage of the production of academic work.

The course explores how to prepare pupils for full participation and engagement with their studies at university by raising awareness and understanding of the core values and expectations of academia, to explore the thinking skills that are required at university, and to encourage credible engagement with academic culture. It aims to show teachers how to prepare students to start their programmes with a clear understanding of the expectations of them, and explore activities that prepare pupils to succeed in meeting those expectations.

The course aims to help you:

  • understand the philosophical concepts underlying academic thinking, academic research and academic conventions;
  • develop a clear overview of the subskills of critical thinking skills in HE;
  • review the relationship between thinking skills and writing critically;
  • develop ideas for teaching critical thinking and academic writing in the classroom.

Who this course is for

The course is designed for school teachers teaching at secondary level, with any level of experience.

It's ideal for teachers who:

  • feel uncertain about their knowledge of critical thinking skills required at university;
  • wish to refresh their knowledge of the conventions of academic writing in HE;
  • would like to explore new ways of teaching academic writing and critical thinking.

Recommended reading

Benefits of taking this course

Teachers will:

  • develop a clear understanding of what critical thinking is in academia and how these skills can be applied in students’ work;
  • meet other teachers and discuss ideas and issues;
  • explore new ideas for teaching critical thinking and academic writing.

For pupils, the course will offer teachers opportunities to provide pupils with practical activities that encourage them to:

  • understand what academia tries to achieve, the approaches that it takes, and how this is reflected in the conventions for discussing ideas and research;
  • consider and define problems in the real world;
  • demonstrate the rationale for their interpretations of academic work;
  • justify their decision-making in reaching conclusions;
  • evaluate an argument and synthesise several arguments into a coherent analysis, with the rationale for conclusions being explicitly stated and supported;
  • demonstrate a clear awareness of the language of arguments;
  • be sensitive to the ambiguities easily created though careless use of language and perceive the difference between valid evidence and mere rhetoric;
  • recognise unproductive, biased, opinion-based thinking and understand how to interpret a range of information from various sources; and
  • learn about academic thinking in a fun way.

For schools:

  • Teaching staff will be up-to-date on the latest approaches to teaching critical thinking and academic writing for study in HE;
  • Teaching staff will be reliably informed of the key skills their pupils will need when continuing into HE;
  • Teaching staff will have new ideas for incorporating critical thinking into classroom activities;
  • Your school will see the incorporation of clearer thinking reflected in good writing;
  • Pupils will enter university more confident and better prepared for their studies, which should be reflected in their grades.

Structure, teaching and certification

The course is designed as an online interactive seminar. You'll learn to identify key approaches to academic thinking and how these skills can be developed and incorporated into good academic writing.

This course aims to demystify assessment descriptors referring to critical thinking, e.g. “critical analysis” or “critical engagement with the literature”. The course will introduce the underlying assumptions governing academic thinking and how this impacts on academic practice. It will explain how different conceptualisations of knowledge determine approaches to investigating ‘truth’, and in turn, how this had led to established academic conventions (e.g. within the construction of research paradigms, approaches to the interpretation and evaluation of information and the reporting of ideas and research). The course will translate these philosophical concepts of knowledge into real world examples and tasks, with the aim of demystifying the ‘discipline’ of academic thinking and academic endeavours, central to critical engagement in HE study.

A certificate of attendance will be issued on request for those who attend the whole day.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course you will:

  • be able to identify the key critical thinking skills required in HE and how these translate into good writing;
  • understand the rationale for academic conventions and the relevance of this in teaching academic thinking skills;
  • feel confident in your knowledge of the key skills required of pupils at university;
  • and use this knowledge to develop new teaching ideas that encourage students’ application of these skills in the classroom.

How to book

This page last modified 14 May, 2020 by Survey Web Administrator.