Enhancing Graduates’ Capacity for Critical Thought/Reflection through International Opportunities

Abstract

While many universities cite the capacity for self-reflection and critical thinking as important attributes that they aim to foster in their graduates, international employers continue to report that many graduates still lack these capabilities when they enter the workforce. This paper will look at the research behind the nature of critical reflection/thought, highlighting the complexities inherent in how students acquire these skills. It will also look at the weaknesses in some approaches used to help students become critical thinkers, including a potential over-reliance on reflective learning journals, without the necessary accompanying pedagogy/coaching that can make them an effective learning tool.

The paper will explore the potential of real and virtual international experiences to increase levels of reflection and critical thought in students, thus equipping them with the resilience to thrive in the current global environment of uncertainly and change. It will comment on approaches to preparing/supporting and debriefing students from such international experiences that enhance their capacity for critical thought/reflection.   It will look specifically at how shared initiatives within the Universitas 21 [U21] university network can assist in educating and training outward-looking graduates with the right critical-thinking skills and talents for a world in rapid transformation.