Conference Papers

Shifting attitudes and critical thinking in students of Childhood Studies

This paper presents the results of a pilot study to explore the ways in which third year students in the School of Education feel their attitudes and critical thinking skills have developed since beginning their studies. The study focuses on students on the BA Childhood studies and uses the notion of ‘threshold concepts’ (Meyer and Land 2006) to explore how ideas of childhood conveyed in particular modules could lead to what Perkins’ calls ‘troublesome knowledge’ (Perkins 1999).
The pilot study adopts a mixed method approach; the first is the Critical Thinking Test to evaluate the critical thinking skills of the cohort; the second will use focus groups to elicit students’ personal narratives about their journey ‘through’ key concepts and ideas learnt and discussed in Childhood Studies modules. The latter data provides rich insight into the challenges faced by students and also the strategies adopted to navigate through ‘new’ knowledge. The participants are part of a cohort of final year undergraduate students; six English medium and six Welsh medium students.
The results are used to inform practice within the School of Education, and in broader terms how instruction in analytical thinking skills facilitates the development of critical thinking in students.

Smith, A. and Young, N. (2014) 'Shifting attitudes and critical thinking in students of Childhood Studies', paper presented to The 10th Annual Conference of the British Education Studies Association (BESA), 26–27 June, viewed 16 June 2021, <>