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RMIT University Library - Learning Lab

Student stories


International students were asked "Was critical thinking a new skill for you to apply at RMIT?"

There's a bit more emphasis on critical thinking here, it's required of you. And that would be, for instance, giving an assignment.

For instance having been asked to do a literature review on a topic, it's not just a question of reviewing the literature and putting the views together or organising them. On top of that you've got to critique them, and state what you think, what are your views given all the evidence, or all the opinions, or what do you question, what do you support, and why. What could have been better. A topic that may have been given, you really have to always think OK was that really good? Could you have done well without it, why did somebody come up with such a theory, and was it really necessary or they just didn't have anything else to do. It's things like that, and it can be demanding especially when you are used to just pointing out facts.

Now having to go further and think about those facts, and teach you something from it can be quite a task.

Thinking critically that is again an issue for most international students.

I always thought that what the educationalists, the academics are saying, that is it. I don't have the capacity to actually criticise that, or to add something to it, I should just believe it as such, and for me it was really different, and when I started writing, I realised that there was so much that I had to say. And that what I had to say was also important.

And it really helped me in doing my other assignments as well, because it developed that kind of critical monologue within myself so it was really helpful, I think.

When I recall my learning experience, I think there are two points that should be adjusted for international students who come from an Eastern educational background.

The first one is reading with critical eyes. Eastern culture emphasises to obey 'big man's sayings', so some of us are very willing to receive an expert's opinion than think they are ready too .. but not give our own ideas, and I always forget to collect evidence as I am reading.

Critical thinking is something that they talk a lot about.

It's more your ability to show that you have read widely, I mean lots of literature, and that you can hold the different literature up against each other, and say that this is where they have stuff in common, this where they are different, and build on that theory.

Generally when they ask for critical thinking it's your ability to analyse the literature.