Research on critical thinking

Critical thinking is an important academic skill. But what do you notice about it in your studies? What exactly is critical thinking and what does it mean to you? That's what we'd like to know.

Completing the questionnaire will take about 10 to 15 minutes.  All Humanities students - except first-year students - can participate voluntary. Read more on the background and implementation below. We will invite a selection of respondents for focus group interviews. Thank you very much for your contribution!

More information

Would you like to know more about the study? Please contact Merel van Goch ( or Vincent Crone ( They are conducting research into what critical thinking means for students in the Humanities. Would you like to contribute? Participating is simple: you fill in an online questionnaire, which takes about 10-15 minutes.

Everything at a glance

Information about participating in our study on Critical thinking in the Humanities

1. Introduction

Learning to think critically is an important academic skill, which is also often mentioned in learning objectives and outcomes of programmes in the humanities. However, what do students notice about this, and how do they themselves think about critical thinking in their programme? In this research project, which is exploratory in nature, we are going to question students in the Humanities students about this. We ask you to participate. This means that you will be asked to complete a questionnaire and can participate in a focus group interview. The research was approved by the FETC-GW. If you don't want to participate, you don't have to do anything.

2. What is the background and purpose of the research?

In this exploratory study, we examine how students think critical thinking has a place within their programme and how they notice this themselves and how they view it. Ultimately, together with students, we want to arrive at a definition of critical thinking within the Humanities, by doing two-step research into this. First, we present a questionnaire to students about how they think critical thinking has a place in their programme, what characteristics critical thinking has and how they themselves describe critical thinking. Then we will conduct focus group interviews with a selection of students, in which we discuss these characteristics of critical thinking in more detail and try to come to a (re)definition of critical thinking in the humanities in co-creation. This (re)definition could also be further investigated in other humanities subjects and programmes in the future.

3. How is the research carried out and what is expected of you?

What do we ask of you? The announcement contains a link to the survey. The questionnaire is prepared in Qualtrics, takes about 10-15 minutes and can be completed anonymously. At the beginning of the questionnaire, permission to participate will be requested from you. In addition, we will ask a number of the students, who sign up for this, to participate in a focus group interview. That is separate from the survey, so you can participate in both the questionnaire and the focus group interview. The interview will last a maximum of 1.5 hours. The interview is recorded using audio to facilitate processing of the data. If you are asked to participate in the focus group interview, we will ask you to complete the informed consent form attached to this letter.

In summary:

  • Survey: grant permission in the Qualtrics environment (see link in the announcement)
  • Focus group interview: grant permission using the form in the pdf 

5. What are the possible advantages and disadvantages of participating in this study?

There are no benefits of this research. We do ask a bit of your time (10-15 minutes survey, 1.5 hours maximum for the interviews).

6. Voluntary participation

Participation in the study is voluntary and has no relation to any course you are taking (it will not affect your grade or participation in the course). You can terminate your participation in the study at any time, including during the survey or interview. Consent may also be withdrawn after participation: then your data will not be included in the analyses. Your research data can no longer be deleted if the data has already been analysed, or if research data can no longer be traced back to you.

7. What happens to the collected data?

Directly traceable personal data, such as your name and email address, are managed by the research team (Merel van Goch and Vincent Crone). This data is stored on a secure UU server during the research and stored separately from the research data. If you want to have your personal data corrected or deleted, please contact the researchers (see bottom of the letter). This personal data will not be provided to others.

During your participation in the study, data is collected. The survey results are anonymous, i.e. they cannot be traced back to individual persons. The interview data is pseudonymized, i.e. personally identifiable data is deleted in the transcripts of the interviews. The audio files will be destroyed as soon as possible. The anonymous survey results and the pseudonymised interview data are stored for at least 10 years on Yoda, the UU's secure server. You give permission for this if you participate in this research. If you don't want to, you can't participate in this study. This pseudonymized research data (both regarding the survey and the interviews) can be shared with other scientists to possibly answer other research questions.

8. Is there a financial compensation if you decide to participate in this study?

There is no financial compensation for participation.

9. Approval of this research project

The Faculty Ethical Review Committee - Humanities (FETC-GW) has approved this research. If you wish to submit a complaint about the procedure regarding this investigation, you can contact the secretary of the FETC-GW, e-mail:, or the data protection officer of Utrecht University, e-mail:

10. More information about this study?

Do you want to know more about the research project? Please contact Merel van Goch ( or Vincent Crone (