The African Universities' Response to the Undergraduate Students' Need for Independent Learning and Critical Thinking Skills
Ndethiu, Sophia M.
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In this paper, the author challenges leaders, teachers and other stakeholders in institutions of higher learning in Africa to give the promotion of independent learning and critical thinking skills the seriousness that it deserves. Many students that join university do so with only "lower-order" learning abilities so that higher institutions of learning need to respond by stepping in specific measures to bridge this gap. Universities have to be prepared to equip students with "high-order" learning abilities that will guarantee independence, engender intellectual stimulation and encourage independent scholarship while at the same time preparing them for life-long learning and critical thinking that are the defining attributes of life in an information based society. It challenges those universities that already have academic interventions for first-year students to interrogate the role being played by these structures with a goal to strengthening their core aims and missions. The role that universities can play to meet this very noble end is extrapolated against the current trends and realities within the teaching/learning environments of African universities. The paper proposes that African universities should adopt the "constructivist learning paradigm" which could guide our pedagogical choices if we are to develop learners with greater capacities for learning now and in the future. It ends by offering some recommendations