Valdone Indrasiene, Violeta Jegeleviciene, Odeta Merfeldaitė, Daiva Penkauskiene, Jolanta Pivoriene, Asta Railiene, Justinas Sadauskas, Natalija Valaviciene


The article discusses the construction of the critical thinking concept in higher education and its change in scientific publications between 1993 and 2017. Based on a systematic literature review, the following research questions are raised: how does construction of critical thinking concept change in the context of higher education during time? How are personal, interpersonal, and social aspects expressed in the concept of critical thinking in the context of higher education? The systematic literature review revealed significant grow of publications starting from 1998.  It is also disclosed slight change in treating critical thinking as purely general or domain-specific competence. The authors of the researched articles do not make clear division between critical thinking as a general and as a domain-specific competence. Researchers in different fields tend to associate critical thinking with the development of a person’s cognitive and intellectual capacities, including skills and attitudes. However, some authors reveal also interpersonal and social aspects of critical thinking. Alas, there are not so many publications in favour of such comprehensive approach. But there is still some hope that critical thinking will be treated and nurtured as personal, interpersonal and social competence.


critical thinking; higher education; social welfare; a systematic literature review


Abrami, P., Bernard, R., Borokhovski, E., Wade, A., Surkes, M., Tamim, R.,& Zhang, D. (2008). Instructional interventions affecting critical thinking skills and dispositions: A stage 1 meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 78, 1102–1134. doi: 10.3102/0034654308326084.

Agnew, J. (1998). Geopolitics: re-visioning world politics (London, Routledge).

Baildon, M. C. & Sim, J. B. Y. (2009). Notions of criticality: Singaporean teachers’ perspectives of critical thinking in social studies. Cambridge Journal of Education, 39(4), 407-422. doi: 10.1080/03057640903352481.

Barnett, R. (1997). Higher education: a critical business (Buckingham, Open University Press).

Barnett, R. (2013). Imagining the university (London; New York, Routledge).

Barnett, R., Parry, G. & Coate, K. (2001). Conceptualizing curriculum change. Teaching in Higher Education, 6(4), 436–49. doi: 10.1080/13562510120078009.

Belluigi, D.Z. (2009). Exploring the discourses around ‘creativity’ and ‘critical thinking’ in a South African creative arts curriculum. Studies in Higher Education, 34(6), 699–717. doi: 10.1080/03075070802644911.

Beyer, B. K. (1985). Critical thinking: what is it? Social Education, 49(4), 270–276.

Beyer, B. K. (2008). How to teach thinking skills in social studies and history. The Social Studies, 99(5), 196–201. doi: 10.3200/TSSS.99.5.196-201.

Biesta, G. J. J. (2014). The Beautiful Risk of Education. Education Theory, 64(3), 303-309. doi:10.1007/s11217-015-9468-1.

Biesta, G.J.J. (2019). Obstinate Education: Reconnecting School and Society. (Leiden, Brill Sense).

Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass).

Brookfield, S. D. (2012). Teaching for critical thinking. Tools and techniques to help students question their assumptions (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass).

Brookfield, S.D. (2005). The power of critical theory for adult learning and teaching. http://www.arabcampaignforeducation.org/functions.php?action=files&table=files&ID=197.

Burbach, M. E., Matkin, G. S., & Fritz, S. M. (2004). Teaching critical thinking in an introductory leadership course utilizing active learning strategies: a confirmatory study. College Student Journal, 38(3), 482–493.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions European higher education in the world (2013). http://www.eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=COM:2013:0499:FIN.

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a renewed EU agenda for higher education (2017). http://www.eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:52017DC0247&from=DA.

Corner, F. (2005). Identifying the core in the subject of Fine Art. International Journal of Art & Design Education, 24(3), 334–42. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-8070.2005.00457.x.

Creme, P. (1999). A reflection on the education of the 'critical person'. Teaching In Higher Education, 4(4), 461 - 471.

Cronin, P., Frances, R., & Coughlan M. (2008). Undertaking a literature review: a step-by-step approach. British journal of nursing, 17 (1), 38-43. doi: 10.12968/bjon.2008.17.1.28059.

Danvers, E. C. (2016). Criticality's affective entanglements: rethinking emotion and critical thinking in higher education. Gender & Education, 28(2), 282-297. doi: 10.1080/09540253.2015.1115469.

Davies, M. (2013). Critical thinking and the disciplines reconsidered. Higher Education Research & Development, 32(4), 529–544. doi: 10.1080/07294360.2012.697878.

Davies, W. M. & Barnett, R. (2015). The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Thinking in Higher Education (New York, Palgrave). doi: 10.1080/14703297.2017.1330176.

Donald, J. G. (2002). Learning to think: disciplinary perspectives (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass).

Dwyer, CH. P. (2017). Critical thinking. Conceptual perspectives and practical guidelines. doi.org/10.1017/9781316537411.

Dzelzkaleja, L. & Kapenieks, J. (2018). Contradictions in Higher Education. Journal of Teacher Education for Sustainability, 20(1), 124-144. doi:10.2478/jtes-2018-0008.

Education for sustainable development goals: learning objectives. (2017). http://www. unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002474/247444e.pdf.

Edyburn, D. (2001). Scholarly endeavours: conducting a comprehensive review of the literature using digital resources. Journal of Special Education Technology, 16(1), 49-52.

Ennis, R. H. (1985). A logical basis for measuring critical thinking skills. Educational Leadership, 43(2), 44–48.

Ennis, R. H. (1989). Critical thinking and subject specificity: clarification and needed research. Educational Researcher, 18(3), 4–10.

Ennis, R.H. (1987). A taxonomy of critical thinking dispositions and abilities. In J. Boykoff-Baron, & R.J. Sternberg (Eds.) Teaching thinking skills: theory and practice (pp. 11–26). (New York, W.H. Freeman).

Ennis, R.H. (1993). Critical thinking: What is it? In H.A. Alexander (Ed.) Philosophy of education (pp. 76–80). (Urbana, IL, Philosophy of Education Society).

Evans, J. S. B. T. (2012). Questions and challenges for the new psychology of reasoning. Thinking &Reasoning, 18, 5–31. doi: 10.1080/13546783.2011.637674.

Facione, P. A. (1996). Critical thinking: what it is and why it counts. http:// www.calpress.com/critical.html.

Facione, P. A. (2007). Critical thinking: what it is and why it counts (Millbrae, CA, California Academic Press).

Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2006). An evaluative case study of the dilemmas experienced in designing a self‐assessment strategy for Community Nursing students. Assessment & Evaluation In Higher Education, 31(1), 37-53. doi: 10.1080/02602930500262361.

Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed (New York, Continuum).

Future Competences and the Future of Curriculum (2017). http:// www.ibe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/resources/02_future_competences_and_the_future_of_curriculum_30oct.v2.pdf.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 7-23. doi:10.1080/08923640109527071.

Giroux, H. (1981). Ideology, Culture and the Process of Schooling (London, Falmer).

Global competency for an inclusive world. OECD (2016). http:// www.oecd.org/education/Global-competency-for-an-inclusive-world.pdf.

Grant, M. J., Booth A. (2009). A typology of reviews: an analysis of 14 review types and associated methodologies. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 26, 91-108. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-1842.2009.00848.x.

Grauerholz, L. & Bouma-Holtrop, Sh. (2003). Exploring critical sociological thinking. Teaching Sociology, 31(4), 485–496. doi:10.2307/3211372.

Halpern, D. F. (1998). Teaching critical thinking for transfer across domains. American Psychologist, 53(4), 449–455. doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.53.4.449.

Halpern, D. F. (2014). Thought and knowledge: an introduction to critical thinking. (New York, Psychology Press).

Hämäläinen, J. (2014). Comparative research in social work: methodological considerations using the ‘diachronic–synchronic’ distinction in linguistics. European Journal of Social Work, 17(2), 192-205. doi.org/10.1080/13691457.2013.777333.

Harrison, S. P. (2005). On the limits of the comparative method. In B. D. Joseph & R. D. Janda (Eds.) The handbook of historical linguistics (pp. 213–243) (Malden, MA,Blackwell).

Hassan, K. E., & Madhum, G. (2007). Validating the Watson Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. Higher Education: The International Journal of Higher Education And Educational Planning, 54(3), 361-383. doi: 10.1007/s10734-006-9002-z.

Hathcoat, J. D., Penn, J. D., Barnes, L. L. B., & Comer, J. C. (2016). A second dystopia in education: validity issues in authentic assessment practices. Research in Higher Education, 57(7), 892-912. doi: 10.1007/s11162‐016‐9407‐1.

Healey, R. L., & Ribchester, C. (2016). Developing ethical geography students? The impact and effectiveness of a tutorial-based approach. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 40(2), 302-319. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2016.1141396.

High Level Group on the Modernisation of Higher Education. Report to the European Commission on improving the quality of teaching and learning in Europe’s higher education institutions. (2013). http://www.publications.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/fbd4c2aa-aeb7-41ac-ab4c-a94feea9eb1f.

Hounsell, D., & Anderson, C. (2009). Ways of thinking and practicing in biology and history: disciplinary aspects of teaching and learning environments. In C. Kreber (Eds.) The University and Its Disciplines, (pp. 71–84) (New York and London, Routledge).

Howard, J. & Zoeller, A. (2007). The role of the introductory sociology course on students’ perceptions of achievement of general education goals. Teaching Sociology, 35(3), 209–22. doi.org/10.1177/0092055X0703500301.

Johanson, J. (2010). Cultivating critical thinking: an interview with Stephen Brookfield. Journal of Developmental Education, 33(3), 26–30.

Jones, A. (2005). Culture and context: critical thinking and student learning in introductory macroeconomics. Studies in Higher Education, 30(3), 339-354. doi:10.1080/03075070500095788.

Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow (New York, NY, US, Farrar, Straus and Giroux).

Kilic-Cakmak, E. (2010). Learning strategies and motivational factors predicting information literacy self-efficacy of e-learners. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(2), 192-208. doi:10.14742/ajet.1090

Kim, M. G., & Bednarz, R. (2013). Development of critical spatial thinking through GIS learning. Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 37(3), 350-366. doi:10.1080/03098265.2013.769091

Kish, C. K., Sheehan, J. K., Cole, K. B., Struyk, L. R., & Kinder, D. (1997). Portfolio in the classroom: A vehicle for developing reflective thinking. The High School Journal, 80, 254–260. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2013.769091.

Kreber, C. (2014). Rationalising the nature of "Graduateness" through philosophical accounts of authenticity. Teaching in Higher Education, 19(1), 90-100. doi:10.1080/13562517.2013.860114.

Kuhn, D. (1999). A developmental model of critical thinking. Educational Researcher. 28 (2), 16-46. doi: 10.2307/1177186.

Kumar, R., & James, R. (2015). Evaluation of critical thinking in higher education in Oman. International Journal of Higher Education, 4(3), 33-43. doi: 10.5430/ijhe.v4n3p33.

Leung, D. Y. P., & Kember, D. (2003). The relationship between approaches to learning and reflection upon practice. Educational Psychology, 23, 61–71. doi:10.1080/01443410303221.

Lim, L. (2011). Beyond logic and argument analysis: critical thinking, everyday problems and democratic deliberation in Cambridge International Examinations' Thinking Skills curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 43(6), 783-807. doi: doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2011.590231.

Maclellan, E. & Soden, R. (2012). Psychological knowledge for teaching critical thinking: the agency of epistemic activity, metacognitive regulative behaviour and (student-centred) learning. Instructional Science, 40 (3), 445-460. doi: 10.1007/s11251-011-9183-4.

Magno, C. (2010). The role of metacognitive skills in developing critical thinking. Metacognition and Learning, 5 (2), 137-156.

Malcom, N. L. (2006). Analyzing the news: teaching critical thinking skills in a writing intensive social problems course. Teaching Sociology, 34(2), 143–49.

Mathias, J. (2015). Thinking like a social worker: examining the meaning of critical thinking in social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 51(3), 457-474. doi:10.1080/10437797.2015.1043196.

McPeck, J. (1981). Critical thinking and education (Oxford, Martin Robertson).

McPeck, J. (1990). Teaching critical thinking: dialogue and dialectic (New York, Routledge).

Moore, T. (2011). Critical thinking and disciplinary thinking: a continuing debate. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(3), 261–274. doi:10.1080/07294360.2010.501328.

New vision for education: fostering social and emotional learning through technology. (2016). http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_New_Vision_for_Education.pdf.

Parahoo, K. (2006). Nursing Research – principles, process and issues (Palgrave, Houndsmill).

Pascarella, E., Wang, J., Trolian, T., & Blaich, C. (2013). How the instructional and learning environments of liberal arts colleges enhance cognitive development. Higher Education, 66(5), 569-583. doi: 10.1007/s10734-013-9622-z.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2006). The miniature guide to critical thinking: concepts and tools (Tomales, CA, The Foundation for Critical Thinking).

Pence, D. (2009). “I'll take ideology for $200, Alex”: using the game show “Jeopardy” to facilitate sociological and critical thinking. Teaching Sociology, 37(2), 171-176.

Penkauskienė, D., Railienė, A. & Cruz, G. (2019). How is critical thinking valued by the labour market? Employer perspectives from different European countries. Studies in Higher Education, 44 (5), 1–12. doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2019.1586323.

Phan, H. P. (2007). An examination of reflective thinking, learning approaches, and self-efficacy beliefs at the University of the South Pacific: a path analysis. Educational Psychology, 27, 789–806. doi.org/10.1080/01443410701349809.

Pillay, P. (2011). Higher education and economic development literature review. http://www.chet.org.za/papers/higher-education-and-economic-development-review-literature.

Raveendram, A. & Chunavala, S. (2015). Reproducing values: a feminist critique of a higher secondary biology textbook chapter on reproductive health. Indian Journal of Gender Studies, 22(2), 194-218. doi.org/10.1177/0971521515578244.

Review of the 2006 recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning (2016). http:// www.ec.europa.eu/education/initiatives/key-competences-framework-review-2017_en.

Rickles, M. L., Schneider, R. Z., Slusser, S. R., Williams, D. M., & Zipp, J. F. (2013). Assessing change in student critical thinking for introduction to sociology classes. Teaching Sociology, 41(3), 271-281. doi:10.1177/0092055X13479128.

Robinson, S. R. (2011). Teaching logic and teaching critical thinking: revisiting McPeck. Higher Education Research & Development, 30(3), 275–287. doi.org/ 10.1080/ 07294360.2010.500656.

Robinson, S.R. (2014). From the editor – accreditation, competency-based education, and EPAS Revisions. Journal of Social Work Education, 50(4), 581-586. doi.org/10.1080/10437797.2014.947893.

Samson, P. L. (2016). Critical thinking in social work education: a research synthesis. Journal of Social Work Education, 52(2), 147-156. doi:10.1080/10437797.2014.947893.

Segall, A., & Gaudelli, W. (2007). Reflecting socially on social issues in a social studies methods course. Teaching Education, 18(1), 77–92. doi.org/10.1080/10476210601151599.

Smith, G. (2002). Are there domain-specific thinking skills? Journal of Philosophy of Education, 36(2), 207–227. doi.org/10.1111/1467-9752.00270.

Stanovich, K. E., Toplak, M. E., & West, R. F. (2008). The development of rational thought: a taxonomy of heuristics and biases. Advances in Child Development and Behaviour, 36, 251–285. dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2407(08)00006-2.

Strand, T. (2005). Peirce on education: nurturing the first rule of reason. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 24(3), 309-316. doi.org/10.1007/s11217-005-3852-1.

Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture: The European Commission's Contribution to the Leaders' Meeting in Gothenburg. (2017). (European Commission, Luxembourg, Publications Office of the European Union).

Teaching For Global Competence in a Rapidly Changing World. OECD (2018). (Paris, OECD Publishing).

The future of education and skills. Education 2030. OECD. http:// www.oecd.org/education/2030/E2030%20Position%20Paper%20(05.04.2018).pdf.

Tiruneh, D., Weldeslassie, A., Kassa, A., Tefera, Z., Cock, M., & Elen, J. (2016). Systematic design of a learning environment for domain-specific and domain-general critical thinking skills. Educational Technology Research & Development, 64(3), 481-505. doi.org/10.1007/s11423-015-9417-2.

Turner, P. (2005). Critical thinking in nursing education and practice as defined in the Literature. Nursing Education Perspectives, 26 (5), 272-277.

Walker, M. (2015). Higher education and the public good. In S. McGrath & Q. Gu (Eds.), Routledge Handbook on International Education and Development (Routledge, London).

Walkner, P. & Finney, N. (1999). Skill development and critical thinking in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 4(4), 531-547. doi.org/10.1080/135625199004040 9.

Wang, Y., Chao, C. Y., & Liao, H. (2011). Poststructural feminist pedagogy in English instruction of vocational-and-technical education. Higher Education, 61(2), 109-139.doi.101007/s10734-010-9327-5.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.21277/sw.v1i9.460


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2019

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Siauliai university