Facilitating a student-educator conceptual model of dispositions towards critical thinking through interactive management

  • Christopher P. Dwyer
  • Michael J. Hogan
  • Owen M. Harney
  • Caroline Kavanagh
Research Article


Critical thinking (CT) is a metacognitive process, consisting of a number of sub-skills and dispositions that, when used appropriately, increases the chances of producing a logical conclusion to an argument or solution to a problem. Though the CT literature argues that dispositions are as important to CT as is the ability to perform CT skills, the majority of research in the area has focused on CT skills. In addition, though most CT interventions are designed based on academic or expert definitions of CT, students are rarely, if ever, asked to guide their instruction by describing their perspectives on what constitutes CT. Thus, the current study used interactive management to examine similarities and differences in the way students and educators conceptualise CT dispositions. Interactive management (IM) is a computer-assisted process that allows a group to build a consensus-based structural model describing relations between elements in a system. Consistent with previous research, it is suggested that addressing how students conceptualise CT may provide a starting point to negotiate and innovative the CT curriculum and learning process. Furthermore, evaluating similarities and differences in the way students and educators understand CT dispositions may facilitate the building of complementary and integrative models of CT dispositions that reflect the full range of perspectives in University teaching environments. Results of the current study suggest that while students’ conceptualisation of CT dispositions was largely consistent with both the educators’ conceptualisation and dispositions highlighted in the extant literature, students’ descriptions were broader, less abstract and more concrete accounts of CT dispositions; and were also primarily focused on utility or function rather than ideal principles of action. Results are discussed in light of research and theory on CT and best practice for CT instruction.


Critical thinking Dispositions Interactive management Collective intelligence 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher P. Dwyer
    • 1
  • Michael J. Hogan
    • 1
  • Owen M. Harney
    • 1
  • Caroline Kavanagh
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PsychologyNUIGalwayIreland

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