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PSY1101 Critical Thinking

Semester 1, 2015 On-campus Springfield
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences
School or Department : School of Psychology and Counselling

Contents on this page


Examiner: Andrea Lamont-Mills
Moderator: Hong Eng Goh


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in one of the following Programs: BPSH or BPSB. Students enrolled in other degrees are permitted to enrol in this course subject to the examiner's approval.


Much of the study in an undergraduate Psychology degree is aimed at teaching students to think like a professional psychologist. Largely this involves being able to think critically about any issue that arises and to be able to problem solve. In order to do this, students need to learn how to utilise logic, evidence, and psychological science when evaluating claims about, and solving problems regarding, human behaviour. Students also need to be aware of the shortcomings of the cognitive processes they bring to critical thinking and problem solving that are likely to lead to less than optimal outcomes.


Critical thinking and problem solving skills are attributes that USQ affirms its graduates should have acquired upon completion of their degree. Further, the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council requires that all psychology undergraduate students demonstrate critical and creative thinking skills upon graduation. This course is aimed directly at fostering those skills. This is done by examining the topic from a range of perspectives. The techniques of critical thinking and problem solving are explicitly taught. In addition, the issue of bias and other types of cognitive limitations that produce erroneous solutions are also examined.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. recognise and defend against the major formal and informal fallacies of human reasoning;
  2. critically evaluate claims that arise from myth, stereotype, pseudoscience or untested assumptions;
  3. apply logic and evidence to critically evaluate and to develop arguments;
  4. demonstrate a rigorous and objective attitude in thinking and learning about human behaviour;
  5. demonstrate an understanding of the psychological basis underpinning critical thinking and problem solving skills;
  6. apply critical thinking and problem solving skills when solving applied problems;
  7. critically evaluate theoretical approaches in psychology.


Description Weighting(%)
1. What is Critical Thinking 9.00
2. Thinking Critically and Creatively 9.00
3. Problem Solving 9.00
4. Perceiving and Believing 9.00
5. How Knowledge is Constructed 9.00
6. Language and Thought 9.00
7. Forming and Applying Concepts 9.00
8. Relating and Organising 9.00
9. Constructing Arguments 10.00
10. Reasoning Critically 9.00
11. Thinking Critically About Moral Issues 9.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Chaffee, J 2015, Thinking critically, 11th edn, Cengage, Stamford, CT.
    (Bundle ISBN 9780170270618 (containing Chaffee Thinking Critically 11th ed ISBN: 9781285430119 & Aplia Printed Access Card for Chaffee's Thinking Critically, 11th edition ISBN: 9781285430683).)
  • Forshaw, M 2012, Critical thinking for psychology: A student guide, BPS Blackwell, Chichester, UK.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Davison, JE & Sternberg, RJ 2003, The psychology of problem solving, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
  • Forte, I & Schurr, S 1997, 180 icebreakers to strengthen critical thinking and problem-solving skills, Hawker Brownlow Education, Cheltenham, Vic.
  • Halonen, J & Gray, C 2001, The critical thinking companion for introductory psychology, Worth Publishers, New York.
  • Kahneman, D & Tversky, A 2000, Choices, values, and frames, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
  • Stanovich, KE 2007, How to think straight about psychology, 8th edn, Allyn & Bacon, Boston, Mass.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Assessments 50.00
Class Contact 39.00
Directed Study 83.00
Examinations 2.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
Argument Analysis 50 25 03 Mar 2015 (see note 1)
Critical Thinking Portfolio 50 25 03 Mar 2015 (see note 2)
2HR Restricted Exam 100 50 End S1 (see note 3)

  1. The examiner will advise the due date via the course StudyDesk.
  2. The examiner will advise the due date via the course StudyDesk.
  3. Examination dates will be available during the semester. Please refer to the examination timetable when published.

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the students' responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To complete each of the assignments satisfactorily, students must obtain at least 50% of the marks available for each assignment.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course. Note that the Conceded Pass is not available in this course due to APAC accreditation standard 2.1.9.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the weighted aggregate of the marks (or grades) obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    Candidates are allowed access only to specific materials during a Restricted Examination. The only materials that candidates may use in the restricted examination for this course are: writing materials (non-electronic and free from material which could give the student an unfair advantage in the examination); Students whose first language is not English, may, take an appropriate unmarked non-electronic translation dictionary (but not technical dictionary) into the examination. Dictionaries with any handwritten notes will not be permitted. Translation dictionaries will be subject to perusal and may be removed from the candidate's possession until appropriate disciplinary action is completed if found to contain material that could give the candidate an unfair advantage.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Any Deferred or Supplementary examinations for this course will be held during the next examination period.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. Students must familiarise themselves with the USQ Assessment Procedures (

  2. If electronic submission is specified for a course assessment, students will be notified of this on the Course Study Desk. The due date for an electronically submitted assessment is the date by which a student must electronically submit the assignment irrespective of holidays. The assignment files must be submitted by 11.55pm on the due date using USQ time (as displayed on the clock on the course home page; that is, Australian Eastern Standard Time).

  3. USQ will not accept submission of assignments by facsimile or email unless expressly requested by the course examiner.

  4. The referencing system to be used in this course is APA style. Information on this referencing system and advice on how to use it can be found in the course materials.

  5. Reliable access to the internet is a requirement of this course as the course contains electronic assessment and submission elements. In order to avoid internet issues, on-campus students should upload their assignments into Moodle Assignment using on-campus computer laboratories. External and online students who knowingly do not have reliable access to the internet should actively seek alternative internet access (e.g., Internet cafes, local libraries, or work places) for assessment submission. External and online students are able to use the on-campus student computer laboratories once access has been enabled. To be granted access, external students need to contact ICT and ask to have a student account enabled so that they can work on-campus.