Summaries and reviews for The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education

Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education

Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett (Eds)
Palgrave MacMillan; ISBN: 9-7811-3737-8033 (HB)


This book is the product of dozens of scholars from many institutions across five continents. It is subject to a symposium review series in Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines. The official ‘blurb’ is as follows: The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education explores critical thinking in higher education in all its forms, from definitions to teaching and incorporating it into the curriculum, its relationship to culture and the professions, and its social perspectives and scientific and cognitive manifestations. Davies and Barnett ask what is critical thinking, especially in the context of higher education? The handbook explores these questions, with contributors offering their insight into the contemporary understandings of higher education worldwide.


Introduction: Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett

Part I: What Is Critical Thinking in Higher Education? 
1. Critical Thinking: A Streamlined Conception (Robert H. Ennis)
2. Critical Thinking and/or Argumentation in Higher Education (Richard Andrews)
3. A Curriculum for Critical Being (Ronald Barnett)
4. Willingness to Inquire: The Cardinal Critical Thinking Virtue (Benjamin Hamby)

Part II Teaching Critical Thinking
5. Teaching Critical Thinking: An Operational Framework (Keith Thomas and Beatrice Lok)
6. Teaching Critical Thinking for Lifelong Learning (Paul Green)
7. Teaching Critical Thinking as Inquiry (Sharon Bailin and Mark Battersby)
8. Debate’s Relationship to Critical Thinking (Stephen M. Llano)
9. Thick Critical Thinking: Toward a New Classroom Pedagogy (Milton W. Wendland, Chris Robinson, and Peter A. Williams)
10. A Disciplined Approach to Critical Thinking (Anna Jones)
11. Using Argument Mapping to Improve Critical Thinking Skills (Tim van Gelder)

Part III Incorporating Critical Thinking in the Curriculum
12. The Relationship between Self-Regulation, Personal Epistemology, and Becoming a “Critical Thinker”: Implications for Pedagogy (Iris Vardi)
13. Using Argument Diagramming to Teach Critical Thinking in a First-Year Writing Course (Maralee Harrell and Danielle Wetzel)
14. Virtue and Inquiry: Bridging the Transfer Gap (Tracy Bowell and Justine Kingsbury)
15. Proposition Testing: A Strategy to Develop Critical Thinking for Essay Writing (Sara Hammer and Phil Griffiths)
16. Conditions for Criticality in Doctoral Education: A Creative Concern (Eva M. Brodin)
17. The Effectiveness of Instruction in Critical Thinking (David Hitchcock)

Part IV Critical Thinking and Culture
18. Do Students from Different Cultures Think Differently about Critical and Other Thinking Skills? (Emmanuel Manalo, Takashi Kusumi, Masuo Koyasu, Yasushi Michita,
and Yuko Tanaka)
19. Critical Thinking through a Multicultural Lens: Cultural Challenges of Teaching Critical Thinking (Maha Bali)
20. Cultural Variance, Critical Thinking, and IndigenousKnowledges: Exploring a Both-Ways Approach (Sharon K. Chirgwin and Henk Huijser)
21. Critical Thinking Education with Chinese Characteristics (Yu Dong)

Part V Critical Thinking and the Cognitive Sciences
22. Metacognitive Education: Going beyond Critical Thinking (Joe Y. F. Lau)
23. Applying Cognitive Science to Critical Thinking among Higher Education Students (Jason M. Lodge, Erin O’Connor, Rhonda Shaw, and Lorelle Burton)
24. Metacognition and Critical Thinking: Some Pedagogical Imperatives (Peter Ellerton)

Part VI Critical Thinking and the Professions
25. Critical Thinking in Professional Accounting Practice:Conceptions of Employers and Practitioners (Samantha Sin, Alan Jones, and Zijian Wang)
26. Critical Thinking for Future Practice: Learning to Question (Franziska Trede and Celina McEwen)
27. Criticality in Osteopathic Medicine: Exploring the Relationship between Critical Thinking and Clinical Reasoning (Sandra Grace and Paul J. Orrock)
28. Making Critical Thinking Visible in Undergraduates’ Experiences of Scientific Research (Anna N. Wilson, Susan M. Howitt, Denise M. Higgins, and Pamela J. Roberts)
29. Using Social Media to Enhance Critical Thinking: Crossing
Socio-Educational Divides (Nancy November)

Part VII Social Perspectives on Critical Thinking
30. Speaking Truth to Power: Teaching Critical Thinking in the Critical Theory Tradition (Stephen Brookfield)
31. Stumbling over the First Hurdle? Exploring Notions of Critical Citizenship Elmarie Costandius (Margaret Blackie, Brenda Leibowitz, Ian Nell,
Rhoda Malgas, Sophia Olivia Rosochacki, and Gert Young)
32. Critical Pedagogy: Critical Thinking as a Social Practice (Stephen Cowden and Gurnam Singh)
33. The Knowledge Practices of Critical Thinking (Eszter Szenes, Namala Tilakaratna, and Karl Maton)
34. Critical Thinking for Educated Citizenship (Monique Volman and Geert ten Dam)

Notes on Contributors


  • “A sweeping, landmark collection of perspectives on theory and practice from key thinkers and practitioners. This is a must read book for anyone who wants to know what critical thinking is, or might be, in higher education”. Professor Richard James, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Director, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, The University of Melbourne, Australia
  • “The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education edited by Martin Davies and Ronald Barnett is a comprehensive and systematic treatment of critical thinking with philosophical approaches balanced by chapters that address its teaching and incorporation in the curriculum, and the relation of critical thinking to culture, to the cognitive sciences, to the professions and to society. In short, it is an indispensable guide and state-of-the-art compendium of critical thinking in the academy.”  Professor Michael A. Peters, Professor of Education, University of Waikato, New Zealand, and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, USA.
  • “‘Critical thinking’ is one of the key aims of higher education. But what is it? And, does it mean the same thing in all fields, disciplines and cultures? While insisting on the importance of critical thinking in higher education, this book problematises and debates what it means, and how it may be developed and implemented in curriculum. It fills a key gap in the literature, and in curricular and policy debates.”Professor Leesa Wheelahan, William G. Davis Chair in Community College Leadership, Ontario Institute of Studies for Education, University of Toronto, Canada
  • ‘I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Succinct, systematic, accessible and extremely thorough, this carefully edited collection courtesy of Profs. Barnett and Davies, is a must-have for anyone who wishes to understand more about the nature and role of criticality in, not only higher education, but all walks of life. Educators and policy-makers, moreover, anyone with an interest in cogent thinking and argumentation, especially with regard to the type of reflexive society criticality endeavours to forge and develop will find this a thoroughly rewarding read.’  Gerard Dunne Jnr (PhD student), Trinity College, Dublin,  ★★★★★
  • ‘A substantial collection of essays exploring the connection between critical thinking and higher education’. Dr David Wright Inquiry: Critical Thinking across the Curriculum, 30(2), 2015, pp. 54-62.
  • ‘This volume provides an informed, current and extensive basis to inspire further research and debate’.  Dr Judie Cross Journal of Organizational Knowledge Communication, School of Education, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Wollongong.
  • ‘The Handbook’s Editors [are] masters, not of spin, but of superbly written understatement, and fluent argument’. Dr Dennis Bryant Australian Universities’ Review Vol. 58 (1), 97-98.
  • ‘What is critical thinking, really? The book has loads of ideas. Sometimes I would open the book and read the table of contents, wistfully dreaming of a time I could read the whole thing from cover to cover. … I’m impressed by you Palgrave Handbook of Critical thinking in Higher Education’. The Thesis Whisperer.
  • ‘Davies and Barnett provide a useful overview in the introduction to their anthology “The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking.” Some theories of critical thinking emphasize skepticism in the face of political and intellectual authority. Some theories emphasize the ability to distinguish appeals to emotion from appeals to evidence. Some theories emphasize the ability to parse arguments and detect fallacies. Some other theories emphasize metacognition and the ability to articulate one’s own cognitive processes. Each discipline probably contributes in varying degrees to each of these skills’. Charles Rathkopf, Daily Nous: News for and about the Philosophy Profession.
  • “In my estimation the book belongs in the library of every university and college in the country just for the sweep and scope of what it covers”.  Professor Frank Fair, Editor of Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines. Sam Houston State University, Texas.
  • “There is much value to be found in each of the five essays reviewed here …They evidence a need for further research into the area of social perspectives on critical thinking, while offering useful initial insights into this area”. Maria Sanders, Plymouth State University in Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines.
  • “Critical thinking” has become a buzzword … It is found in virtually every college and university mission statement.  Yet simultaneously, its vagueness has been deplored and its intellectual respectability correspondingly denigrated. … This situation may be changing. An encouraging sign was the appearance in 2015 of the big Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education. It’s a 650-page collection of 36 articles representing a wide variety of issues related to the conception , the value and the pedagogy of critical thinking. Emertius Professor J. Anthony Blair, Studies in Critical Thinking. Windsor Studies in Argumentation (2019).


Review 1: Denis Bryant (2016), Think Critical; Be Critical, Australian Universities’ Review, Vol 58(1): pp. 99-100.

Review 2: Judie Cross (2015), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education (Review). Journal of Organizational Knowledge Communication, Vol 2(1): 81-87.

Review 3:  David Wright, Inquiry: Critical Thinking across the Curriculum. Vol. 20 No. 2 (Summer 2015): 2-3.

Review 4:  Deepa Idnani (2017), The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. Vol 54(4): pp. 403-405.

Review 5: Maria Saunders (2018). Inquiry: Critical Thinking across the Curriculum. Vol. 31 No. 2 (Summer 2016): 47-54.

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