Teaching Critical Thinking Within an Institutionalised Problem Based Learning Paradigm - Quite a Challenge

  • Heilyn Nunez Camacho
  • Ellen Christiansen Aalborg University


This paper reviews the design of a ‘Professional Inquiry’ course taught for four years to Information Studies students at Aalborg University, Denmark, within the pedagogical paradigm of Problem Based Learning (PBL). The course teaches students how to formulate research questions and scientific problems, and determine what is worthwhile knowing within the field of informatics. While no contradiction was foreseen at the outset of the study, the following dilemmas surfaced over the four years, putting the development of critical reflection skills at risk: (1) while project work revolves around real-world problem-solving, critical thinking requires inquiries into what we already know, the ways we know,and why we know and not know, therefore, it implies reformulating the problem several times; (2) making critical thinking the subject of a course might prevent students from conceptualising it as part of all scholarly thinking; (3) time needed to think critically is eclipsed by other demands on the students’ study time; and (4) the hours allocated for the course make it difficult for teachers to introduce the curriculum and meet the students where they are.