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Two findings about graduate attributes

By Matt Barr (see also here),   HATII

Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.

This talk was on 7 Sept. 2016 in the seminar room in the School of Psychology.
Steve gave a brief overview of Luke Timmon's study.
Matt gave a talk on his PhD research.

Critical thinking depends on whom you live with (Steve)


A study measured undergraduates' general critical thinking skill, using Ennis' test, and explored correlations of these test scores with demographic data. The most statistically significant associations were not with commuting distance or closeness to campus, but with whom the student lived. Best average scores were for students living with friends; next were for those living with parents; lowest were for living alone or with others who were not friends.

An interpretation of this is that critical thinking depends upon practice at discussion which is based upon giving and assessing reasons; and furthermore that it is opportunity for informal discussion and not formal education which is the most important factor for this. No significant association of critical thinking with discipline was found, as would be the case if the differences in teaching-led demands for discussion were the important variable (either due to disciplinary differences, or to teaching habits in different departments).


  • Steve's slides
  • Pointers to two conference talks on this by Luke Timmons, with their slides and own further links:   1   2
  • Flynn's ideas on CT as a general mental ability
  • A brief outline of the range of contrasting ideas on CT

  • Pointers to various of Steve's notes on graduate attributes

    Video Games Can Develop Graduate Skills in Higher Education Students: A Randomised Trial (Matt)


    This study measured the effects of playing commercial video games on the development of the desirable skills and competences sometimes referred to as "graduate attributes". Undergraduate students in the Arts and Humanities were randomly assigned to either an intervention or a control group. Previously validated, self-report instruments to measure adaptability, resourcefulness and communication skill were administered to both groups. The intervention group played specified video games under controlled conditions over an eight week period. A large effect size was observed with mean score change was 1.1, 1.15, and 0.9 standard deviations more positive in the intervention group than the control on the communication, adaptability, and resourcefulness scales respectively (p = 0.004, p = 0.002, and p = 0.013 for differences in groups by unpaired t-test). The large effect size and statistical significance of these results support the hypothesis that playing video games can improve self-reported graduate skills.


    Matt's related conference papers

    Barr, M. (2016) Using Video Games to Develop Graduate Attributes: a Pilot Study. In: 10th European Conference on Games Based Learning, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK, 6-7 Oct 2016. Retrieved from

    Barr, M. (2016) Using Video Games to Develop Communication Skills in Higher Education. In: Irish Conference on Game-Based Learning (iGBL), Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, 1-2 Sept 2016. Retrieved from

    Future publications:


    Barrie, S.C. (2006) "Understanding What We Mean by the Generic Attributes of Graduates" Higher Education Vol.51, pp.215-241 doi:10.1007/s10734-004-6384-7

    Duran, R.L. (1992) "Communicative adaptability: A review of conceptualization and measurement" Communication Quarterly Vol.40 pp.253-268. doi:10.1080/01463379209369840

    Gee, J. P. (2007) What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning and Literacy New York: Palgrave Macmillan. GU library

    McCroskey, J.C., McCroskey, L.L. (1988) "Self-report as an approach to measuring communication competence" Communication Research Reports Vol. 5 pp.108-113. doi:10.1080/08824098809359810

    Ployhart,R.E. & Bliese, P.D. (2006) "Individual Adaptability (I-ADAPT) Theory: Conceptualizing the Antecedents, Consequences, and Measurement of Individual Differences in Adaptability" In Understanding Adaptability: A Prerequisite for Effective Performance within Complex Environments Vol.6 pp.3-39 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from doi: 10.1016/S1479-3601%2805%2906001-7

    Pulakos, E. D., Arad, S., Donovan, M. A., & Plamondon, K. E. (2000) "Adaptability in the workplace: Development of a taxonomy of adaptive performance" Journal of Applied Psychology 85(4), 612-624. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.85.4.612

    Pulakos, E. D., Schmitt, N., Dorsey, D. W., Arad, S., Borman, W. C., & Hedge, J. W. (2002) "Predicting Adaptive Performance: Further Tests of a Model of Adaptability" Human Performance 15(4), 299-323. doi:10.1207/S15327043HUP1504_01

    Squire, K. (2011). Video Games and Learning: Teaching Participatory Culture in the Digital Age Teachers College Press. GU library

    Zauszniewski, J. A., Lai, C.-Y., & Tithiphontumrong, S. (2006). Development and Testing of the Resourcefulness Scale for Older Adults. Journal of Nursing Measurement, 14(1), 57-68. doi:10.1891/jnum.14.1.57

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