Conceptualising, developing and assessing critical thinking in law

Nickolas James, Clair Hughes*, Clare Cappa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


'Critical thinking' is commonly included in the lists of graduate attributes (GAs), which all Australian universities are now required to develop and implement. That efforts to do so have met with limited success is due to a range of factors including inconsistent or naive conceptualisations, the failure to explicitly develop or assess GAs, and the persistence of 'signature' disciplinary practices. This paper describes the design and implementation of a law course in which the development and assessment of critical thinking were core objectives. Key features of the course included an operational conceptualisation of 'critical legal thinking', the development of closely aligned teaching and learning activities, and an aligned, coherent and innovative assessment programme. An evaluation of the first iteration of the course identified a number of successful outcomes as well as implications for ongoing course development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-297
Number of pages13
JournalTeaching in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


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