A case study exploring tutor perceptions on the effects of the study diamond in developing critical thinking on an Open University level 1 arts course

Clifton, Gillian Ann (2011). A case study exploring tutor perceptions on the effects of the study diamond in developing critical thinking on an Open University level 1 arts course. EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d3cf

Abstract

This case study explores the concept of teaching critical thinking through a process known as the Study Diamond. The Study Diamond is a study tool embedded in an Open University (OU) Level 1 Introductory Arts course. Entitled 'Making Sense of the Arts' and identified by the code Y160, the course introduces students to higher education, distance learning and to three distinctive arts disciplines. Using qualitative data collection methods that include an informal non-directive group interview with Y1 60 Course Authors, an e-survey of Y1 60 Tutors, and one-to-one semi-structured telephone interviews with targeted Y160 Tutors, this enquiry considers how the Study Diamond process augments tutors' pedagogy. Specifically, through the experiences of Y160 Tutors who use a blended delivery method which includes telephone tuition, it looks at the challenges tutors face teaching the concept of critical thinking on a multi-disciplinary arts course and how they facilitate and measure understanding. The study applies an interpretivist framework whereby qualitative data, together with the researcher's own experience of tutoring on the course, are aligned with an established body of literature specific to adult learning, distance tutoring and critical thinking. In particular the theoretical ideas of social constructivism and transformation learning are considered within a teaching context that is essentially directed at students from a widening participation (WP) orientation. Findings suggest the Study Diamond has transferable characteristics that are beneficial to Tutors in their teaching of critical thinking. A model for its practical application in inter-disciplinary arts courses is proposed that aims to support Tutors in guiding students, particularly those new to higher education, through the challenges of academic writing and argumentation.

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