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Abstract

The literature on critical thinking in higher education is constructed around the fundamental assumption that, while regarded as essential, is neither clearly nor commonly understood. There is elsewhere evidence that academics and students have differing perceptions of what happens in university classrooms, particularly in regard to higher order thinking. This paper reports on a small-scale investigation in a Faculty of Education at an Australian University into academic and student definitions and understandings of critical thinking. Our particular interest lay in the consistencies and disconnections assumed to exist between academic staff and students. The presumption might therefore be that staff and students perceive critical thinking in different ways and that this may limit its achievement as a critical graduate attribute. The key finding from this study, contrary to extant findings, is that academics and students did share substantively similar definitions and understandings of critical thinking.

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