“Critical thinking is a widely accepted educational goal and its adoption as an educational goal has been recommended on the basis of respect for students’ autonomy and preparing students for success in life and for democratic citizenship” (Hitchcock, 2018).
The enhancement of critical thinking is indeed part of the most successful programmes for eradicating cognitive biases in judgment and decision-making processes: as a general skill, critical thinking helps approaching new subjects, problems or situations in a more rational and logical way.
Age seems a determinant factor in enhancing critical thinking, which is why young students benefit more from such a training. Especially in the Vocational Education and Training system, technical subjects are often privileged over more humanistic studies, which have a higher impact when it comes to avoiding heuristics and cognitive biases.
Some good practices and examples for the implementation of critical thinking training can be found in Europe, but most of them belong to higher education pathways. VET curricula often do not contemplate a systematic or integrated teaching of critical thinking, either as specific or transversal content. VET providers are therefore left themselves to tackle these topics, provided that they have the needed means and opportunities. Although the enhancement of some transversal skills related to critical thinking is embedded throughout different curricular subjects, these competences are not sufficiently highlighted or presented in a structured form.
In light of this, the NERDVET project has been designed with the aim of improving the development of critical thinking skills, especially for Vocational Education and Training students, who seem to be more inclined to lack of said competences.