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Extending and developing your thinking skills
Extending and developing your thinking skills

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5 Other people

Other people can be one of the best tools for developing your thinking. Engaging with others, for example in debate and discussion (either face-to-face or at a distance) is how we most effectively develop our thinking and construct knowledge. This is why many educational institutions encourages, for example:

  • dialogue with a tutor in writing (through the assignments)

  • participatory learning methods such as group activities in tutorials

  • self-help groups.

We would encourage you to seek out and make use of opportunities to articulate your thoughts and share thinking with others. You might include friends, family and workmates. Brainstorming and bouncing ideas around with others can be really productive, especially for creative thinking.

Activity 9

Brainstorm a topic with one or more other people. To do this, jot down anything connected with the topic as it occurs to you. Don't stop to consider whether or not the ideas are useful at this stage, just get them down.

Discussion

When you have got the ideas down on paper, you can reflect on them and see how they fit together.

As a student, it can be useful to think of yourself as an academic apprentice. You can learn from others, particularly expert thinkers (those who have already developed the skills you are seeking to acquire), by listening, observing, and engaging in dialogue. Like an apprentice, you will develop most effectively if you recognise and accept the fact that you are a novice and need direct support in developing your skills. Higher education, and a course tutor in particular, could be seen as having a role in coaching you to develop the skills you need. You may find it useful to have intellectual role models.

Activity 10

Next time you receive a marked piece of work take time to stop, think and review your work and consider how you can make use of the feedback provided. Think about the following points.

  • Your immediate reaction to the grading and comments - were you pleased or disappointed? Was it what you were expecting?

  • What points did your tutor make that relate to your thinking?

  • Did your tutor provide comments that could stimulate and develop your thinking?

  • Do you understand the feedback you have been given and the reasons for the grade awarded? If not, ask your tutor for further explanation.

  • What were the strengths and weaknesses of your work? Did you demonstrate appropriate thinking skills (e.g. understanding, analysis, use of evidence)?

Make a note of the areas you want to improve on for next time and how you will go about this.

Think about your last tutorial, consider the extent to which you engaged with others in ways that developed your thinking. Here are some suggestions.

  • Did you participate in discussion?

  • Did you stop and think before making judgements and expressing views?

  • Did you and others provide evidence to support points of view?

  • Did you listen carefully to others?

Again you can make a note of areas you would like to develop in future.

Discussion

Being proactive in seeking feedback on your thinking and making use of feedback that is given (e.g. in tutorials and assignments) will help. Being able to accept guidance and constructive criticism and learn from it are other skills to foster for developing thinking.