Training higher education teachers’ critical thinking and attitudes towards teaching it

Eva M. Janssen*, Tim Mainhard, Renate S.M. Buisman, Peter P.J.L. Verkoeijen, Anita E.G. Heijltjes, Lara M. van Peppen, Tamara van Gog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Teachers play a crucial role in attaining a major objective of higher education: fostering students’ critical thinking (CT). Yet, little is known about how to foster teachers’ own CT-skills and attitudes towards teaching CT. In a quasi-experimental study (N = 54), we investigated whether a three-session teacher training on (teaching) CT (n = 32) positively affected higher education teachers’ CT-skills and their attitudes towards teaching CT compared to a control condition (n = 22). The training consisted of explicit instruction on common reasoning biases combined with assignments focused on the teaching practice. Results showed that the training improved teachers’ performance on trained but not on novel CT-tasks. Also teachers’ ability to detect biases in a written student product improved; however, despite a small improvement, they still had difficulties in correctly explaining those biases. Possibly due to ceiling effects the training did not affect perceived relevance of teaching CT. Finally, perceived competence in teaching CT decreased temporarily after the first training session but this negative effect disappeared after the final third session. Future research should investigate ways to promote teachers’ ability to transfer trained skills to other CT-tasks, their ability provide feedback on students’ reasoning (i.e., bias explanation), and their attitudes towards teaching CT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-322
Number of pages13
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Critical thinking
  • Heuristics and biases
  • Higher education
  • Instructional design
  • Teaching and teacher education


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