Prior education of Open University students contributes to their capability of critical thinking

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The focus of this study is on Open University students’ entry-level critical thinking skills.The research questions were: how are students’ age, and level and discipline of previous education related to critical thinking skills; is the level and discipline of previous education connected to the accuracy of students’ self-evaluation of their critical thinking skills? Totally 138 students participated altogether. Critical thinking skills were measured by the constructed-response task of the Collegiate Learning Assessment and retrospective self-evaluation scale. The results showed that students’ critical thinking skills, as measured by both the constructed-response task and the self-evaluation scale, differed statistically between groups of different educational levels. The students with higher education degrees had the most developed critical thinking skills. Furthermore, the students who had previous higher education studies in hard sciences succeeded better in critical thinking than those of soft sciences. Between age-groups there were no differences in critical thinking. Students with prior higher education studies evaluated their skills more accurately. A variety of teaching and learning methods and ample feedback are needed in order to learn critical thinking. In addition, to learn metacognitive skills, students should rehearse self-evaluation skills.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of adult and continuing education
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)61-77
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 516 Educational sciences
  • critical thinking skills
  • Open University
  • higher education
  • adult students
  • matacognition

Cite this