Learning and Teaching in Action: Open Issue

Student in language lab


New Text for Student Critical Learning


Available to buy now

Sue Jones (2009) ‘Critical Learning for Social Work Students’
Learning Matters, Exeter , UK


Ever wondered how to tackle the seemingly insurmountable problem of getting your students to understand the constituents of becoming critical thinking practitioners? You know those moments when students ask the jaw droppingly stunning question or respond in group debate by mature and considered synthesis and appraisal of the issues under debate? Yes they are few and far between but wonderful when they happen. Now there is a new study text for lecturers to use with students that takes them through a series of activities bases around 5 themed chapters. Although this book was written using examples from social work practice it is equally relevant to teachers and nursing professionals. The first chapter, Developing Critical Questions, would be of use with students on any course in helping them to develop a framework within which to stretch their abilities in questioning techniques. Chapter 2, Developing Critical Reading has a series of activities to support students in an analysis of their reading including strategies of knowledge management whilst Chapter 3, Developing Critical Writing leads students to improve their construction of arguments - this being useful for assignments but also for reports and document construction that they are likely to have to produce in employment. So far so good for University life but the next two chapters are very closely tied into employability skills and will prove useful to any student when they are seeking work. Chapter 4 introduces students to the development of Critical Reasoning skills whilst Chapter 5 focuses on Critical Practitioner Development. There are many contentious issues included in the book and the notion of holding a position of being ‘unknowing’ yet participating in the debate is refreshingly validated. There is a useful glossary and a list of all the activities at the back of the book that students could use eclectically and evidence in a portfolio of learning. Here are some comments from tutors who have reviewed the book…

"Good mixture of theoretical background and practical skills/models to appeal to different styles of learning. Good level - straightforward but not patronising language."

"This is an excellent book - I will be recommending it to every student and only wish that it had been available when I was studying!

"Particularly like the review questions and the simple structure for complex processes linking grammar etc and critical thinking."

"I will also be recommending it to MSc students as I am a tutor and lecturer on the BA and MSc programmes. Very accessible and clear - students so often struggle with critical thinking that this is a very valuable text."

"This is an excellent book to develop students' academic reading and writing skills. The access course aims to have students working at degree standard by the end so this book will help tremendously."

"Very clear, easy to read book that develops critical perspectives. Easy for students to follow, well done!"


Eureka – at last a book that tutors can obtain free in order to recommend to their students. Contact Rose Hinks at Learning Matters Publishers (Rose@learningmatters.co.uk)


Sue Jones is a Principal Lecturer and is the programme leader for the Master of Arts in Academic Practice within the Centre for Learning and Teaching. She is also a Senior Lecturer teaching on the Social Work Programme at the Didsbury site.




Spring 2009
ISSN 1477-1241