Establishing enabling conditions to develop critical thinking skills: a case of innovative curriculum design in Environmental Science

Establishing enabling conditions to develop critical thinking skills: a case of innovative curriculum design in Environmental Science

  • article in current issue

Dina Zoe Belluigi & Georgina Cundill

Pages: 950-971 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2015.1072802


This paper considers a curriculum design motivated by a desire to explore more valid pedagogical approaches that foster critical thinking skills among students engaged in an Environmental Science course in South Africa, focussing specifically on the topic of Citizen Science. Fifty-three under graduate students were involved in the course, which was run over a two week period. Data were generated from several sources, including individual student evaluations, a focus group discussion, lecturer reflections and summative assessment results. During the course, the development of critical thinking skills was scaffolded by different thinking approaches to the possibilities and problematics of student-selected case studies, followed by a collaborative re-examining of ‘what is known’ about Citizen Science. Spiralling engagement with various resources harnessed the diversity of the class, as they drew on their personal and disciplinary backgrounds. The insights highlight possibilities for alternative higher education teaching models for emerging subjects such as Environmental Science, where the competencies required of graduates, such as critical thinking and coping with uncertainty, differ significantly from traditional ‘science’ competencies, and therefore require a departure from traditional teaching methods.

Keywords: critical thinking, curriculum, enquiry-based learning, pluralism



The eco-club: a place for the becoming active citizen?

The eco-club: a place for the becoming active citizen?

  • paper in the current issue

Elsa Ukanyezi Lee

Pages: 515-532 | DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1149552


This paper makes a twofold contribution. Firstly it presents a typology of eco-clubs that can be used to contextualise eco-club observations by researchers and can support management of eco-clubs by practitioners. Secondly it explains how participation in eco-clubs provides a space for a child to both enact and develop as a citizen, a place for being-as-becoming. It shows how children navigate adult behaviours in these settings and how these experiences afford opportunities for the development of attributes including critical and analytical thinking that are commonly associated with citizenship education in England. In conclusion the paper makes links between these unintended outcomes and the liberal underpinnings of educational institutions in England.

Keywords: Citizenship Education, Action Competence, Critical thinking, Environment Clubs