The Development of Critical Thinking in Professional and Academic Bachelor Programmes

  •  Marie Evens    
  •  An Verburgh    
  •  Jan Elen    


Critical thinking is an important goal in higher education. Students are expected to grow in critical thinking during their higher education programme. The present study investigates the development of critical thinking in 1134 bachelor students in Flanders, Belgium. The study followed a mixed longitudinal design. Students’ critical thinking was measured by the Scipio, a test consisting of both constructed response items and forced choice items. The analyses were split up for academic and professional bachelor students. Students in both academic and professional bachelor programmes are shown to become better critical thinkers during the first two years of study, although the specific growth patterns of both programme types are different. Professional bachelor students show a large growth in the first year of higher education, but do not improve their critical thinking during the next two years. Academic bachelors on the other hand show a moderate growth in the first year and continue developing their critical thinking during the next years, leading to a higher overall growth than professional bachelor students. 

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