Confirmation of Candidature - Andrew Beencke

Mon 22 Mar 2021 3:00pm


Zoom link:


In the 21st century, we expect students of all ages to learn how to think critically as a part of their education. Yet we can learn the skills of critical thinking and still fail to perform these skills when the need arises. A critical thinker must have the intellectual character to overcome the allure of competing desires that might misdirect their thinking. If we truly want students to become critical thinkers, we must make the development of their intellectual character a priority. Currently, there is a lack of theoretical or empirical research focussed on understanding the critical thinker’s character and how it might be developed. Furthermore, the most widely used tools for measuring critical thinking, do so in isolation, rather than in authentic situations, raising questions as to whether success on these tests truly reflects critical thinking in practice.

This mixed methods experimental study will investigate how the deep and broad exploration of intellectual character found in the responsibilist virtue epistemology literature can be applied to better understand, measure, and educate for critical thinking. The first phase of this study will utilise the design-research methodology. The researcher, in collaboration with an upper-primary teacher, will apply responsibilist virtue epistemology theory to develop effective critical thinking interventions and measurement tools. In the second phase of this study, four upper-primary classes across two schools will participate in a controlled trial to test the impact of these interventions. Changes to students’ critical thinking during independent deliberative argumentation with peers will be measured through quantitative content analysis of their dialogue. In addition, stimulated recall interviews will be conducted to gather qualitative data relating to students’ thinking during these dialogues, providing a more nuanced interpretation of the intervention’s impact.

It is hypothesised that viewing critical thinking through the lens of responsibilist virtue epistemology will present opportunities to develop critical thinking interventions that positively impact on the intellectual character of students and increase students’ independent application of critical thinking in practice. It is hoped that this study will contribute to the conceptual understanding of critical thinking, the development of valid critical thinking measurement tools, and, ultimately, the design of more effective critical thinking interventions.

Advisory team

Dr Peter Ellerton (Principal advisor)

Professor Robyn Gillies (Associate Advisor)


Professor Robyn Gillies

Professor Deborah Brown (C)

Dr Peter Ellerton

Dr Christina Gowlett

Date: 22nd March 2021

Time: 3pm

Zoom link:

All HDR candidates and staff are welcome to attend Andrew's presentation via Zoom: