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Title: Law student understandings of critical thinking : a phenomenographic study
Author: Morse, Catherine Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 2681 6083
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2009
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This dissertation provides a phenomenographic analysis of perceptions of critical thinking in Law students. The ability to develop and demonstrate critical thinking is a key element in higher education, being an important criterion for success in terms of assessment. Critical thinking is particularly significant in the context of the study of Law, as Law embraces both problem-solving in the 'technical' sense as well as the consideration and evaluation of argument, policy and jurisprudential questions. While definitions of critical thinking are problematic, they would include such notions of problem-solving and evaluation, so making legal education interestingly susceptible to such enquiry. Phenomenography as a qualitative research method is well established, (although also contested) and has been used particularly in the field of educational research. It aims to give a 'second-order' account of perceptions of phenomena and so appeared to be an appropriate methodology in this instance, where the main investigation concerns students' own interpretation of what 'critical thinking' might connote. A group of first-year students was interviewed and a set of questions used to enable their perceptions and experience of critical thinking to emerge. An account of these perceptions, categorised under five headings, was then developed. The five categories are as follows: Critical thinking as negative; Instrumental critical thinking; A sense of argument; A general sense of analysis and Critical thinking as a way of being. The findings in relation to such perceptions, reviewed in the light of the literature on critical thinking and some of the current debates surrounding practices and directions in legal education, have clear implications for informing curriculum development, changing practice and developing pedagogic theory.
Supervisor: Ashworth, Peter ; Harris, Phil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available