A two day workshop on Critical Thinking in Undergraduate Education was held at Shiv Nadar University (SNU) on 7th and 8th August 2014. The workshop included participants from all four partner universities in India as well as from the British Council.Over the two days there were several excellent presentations and invigorating discussion on various aspects of critical thinking explored through courses taught at the undergraduate level.

Key issues identified during the course of the workshop

  • Design issues pertaining to developing content specific to the online medium - The need for instructors to be involved closely in the process of development of the online portal, right through to the uploading of content was highlighted. In many cases, a common problem was that the instructor’s intended form of content delivery was not in conjunction with what was realised in the online portal, post uploading (formatting/display issues)
  • Assessment schemes – Very often, the evaluation of a large number of submissions is logistically difficult. The online medium presents an alternative either through machine evaluation of questions such as mathematical logic and multiple choice. The other idea would be to explore peer evaluation 
  • Emphasis was laid on developing more online discussion forums to facilitate student participation both inside and outside classroom, with the instructor acting less as moderator and more as a director or coordinator of discussions 
  • Developing consistent material for experimental courses was also an issue. The collaborative platform opened up by the EU-EQUAL program facilitates the co-production of such content and material. Issues pertaining to digital content ownership, IPR and copyright were discussed. Open-licensing standards seem to offer a useful way of handling this issue, given EU’s commitment to both excellence and access 
  • The benefits of approaching critical thinking from a variety of lenses (logical, mathematical, scientific, philosophical, lexical/linguistic) allow for a lateral traversal across disciplines to develop a rounded academic learning experience for undergraduates, and a commitment to launch multiple courses or a ‘course basket’ across disciplines identified to be particularly valuable

(Reported by Deepak Prince, PhD Scholar, Shiv Nadar University)