The cultivation of critical thinking through university tutoring: A new opportunity after Covid-19

El cultivo del pensamiento crítico a través de la tutoría universitaria: una nueva oportunidad tras la Covid-19

Francisco Esteban Bara and Carmen Caro Samada


University tutoring is, with some exceptions, in a state that should concern us. The model in recent years is sporadic, optional meetings generally used to clarify doubts about academic content, solve problems with completing tasks, review assessment results, and find solutions for students’ personal problems that affect their progress in modules. This model of tutoring may make it possible to resolve problems, but it is a limited and insubstantial version of what it could be. There is case for saying that its leitmotiv is university character education, principally what has come to be called the critical spirit or thinking. In addition, it seems that this is what the contemporary social and professional reality misses and demands: university graduates who think for themselves, always seek the truth of things, and focus on the common good. Covid-19, with all of the impact it has had for universities, especially ones that work face-to-face, offers a new opportunity for tutoring, an opportunity to reestablish it. The new situation has brought both a pedagogical-technological message and an ethical one. Both can reestablish tutoring as an ongoing, deep, and unending conversation that enriches other university situations and opens doors that lead to the best version of oneself. This work has a three-part objective: to present arguments that hold that the main purpose of tutoring is cultivation of the critical spirit or thinking; to identify obstacles raised some years ago and possibilities that the new situation brings; and, finally, to suggest a series of future-oriented conclusions so that our universities can give tutoring the place it deserves in line with their circumstances.

Please, cite this article as follows: Esteban Bara, F., & Caro Samada, C. (2023). El cultivo del pensamiento crítico a t avés de la tutoría universitaria: una nueva oportunidad tras la Covid-19 | The cultivation of critical thinking through university tutoring: A new opportunity after Covid-19. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 81 (284), 73-90.



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Francisco Esteban Bara is an As- sociate Professor in the Department of Theory and History of Education at the Universitat de Barcelona. He has been a visiting professor at various universities in Latin America and visiting professor at the Center for Character and Citizenship at the University of Missouri-St. Louis-College of Education. In recent years he has been the Rector’s Delegate in the Student Ob- servatory of the Universitat de Barcelona and Vice-Rector for Communication at the same university. His most recent books are: La Universidad light [The light uni- versity] (Editorial Paidós) and Ética del profesorado [Ethics of teachers] (Editorial Herder). He has also published numerous articles in indexed journals. His research interests centre on the philosophy of uni- versity education and the formation of the university character.

Carmen Caro Samada is Associate Professor at the Universidad Internacional de La Rioja. She graduated in Humanities from the Universidad Pablo de Olavide (Se- ville) with a Special End of Degree Prize and a National End of Degree Prize. She has a doctorate from the Universidad de Navarra with a Special Doctoral Prize. Since 2012 she has been a member of the “Educational work as action” (EDUCACCION) research group at the Universidad Internacional de La Rio- ja. In this academic year, she has joined the “Promoting character skills that support lov- ing relationships and flourishing in schools” project developed jointly with the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard Universi- ty. She is academic secretary of the revista española de pedagogía and secretary of the Education in the Knowledge Society and Action in the Fields of Education, Com- munication, Rights and New Technologies Doctoral Programme.

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