Welcome to Critical Skills

A unique module to help students adjust to third-level education
and prepare for the professional world beyond school.


Critical Skills is a unique offering at Maynooth University that is available to most first-year students. In Critical Skills, you’ll have the opportunity to develop your writing, research, and public speaking skills. The course also focuses on a number of profession-related skills, such as teamwork and data analysis, to better prepare you for the challenges of life after third-level education. By emphasizing digital literacies and strong communicative strategies, you’ll find yourself better prepared to face the challenges ahead.

New from Critical Skills

309, 2020

Your Final Assignment Is…a Podcast

By |September 3rd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Photo by Changbok Ko on Unsplash The Covid-19 crisis reshaped the landscape of education. While many schools and colleges are pushing for a return to in-person classes, online and hybrid teaching will remain part of the conversation for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to overstate the challenges this poses to creating an effective learning environment: [...]

3108, 2020

Rhetoric and Situations: A guide for students on how to be persuasive

By |August 31st, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

If you’ve ever struggled to share an idea with a friend, family member, or co-worker, then you know that effectively communicating with other people can be challenging. Whether you’re posting to social media or arguing in the comments section of an article, it’s important to understand how to effectively persuade others. Luckily for us, [...]

A Quick Look at Critical Skills

The Critical Skills Programme is dedicated to providing excellence in teaching, and strives to help students acclimate themselves to university life while building the skills necessary to succeed in the professional world.

  • Transferability – students will use strategies developed in Critical Skills to succeed in other academic modules

  • Writing Process – by practicing writing, students will improve their ability to communicate complex ideas in print and digital spaces

  • Numeracy – making sense of information also requires analytic skills to make sense of numerical and quantitative data; students will practice these strategies through a detailed data visualization exercise

  • Public Speaking – one of the most valuable skills students can gain during their university career is the ability to present information to groups of individuals in a spoken form; Critical Skills provides a low-stakes environment to practice these skills

The ACRL Framework for Information Literacy

In 2015, the Association of College and Research Libraries released a comprehensive framework for defining information literacy. Information literacy, as defined by these six principles, informs the design and instruction of Critical Skills, so that students are supported in their academic and professional pursuits by a comprehensive understanding of how to locate, analyze, and synthesize knowledge.

Knowledge isn’t created in isolation. Ideas spread across academic communities through conversation and writing. Becoming part of your future discipline means learning how to become an active participant in these conversations.
Ideas and concepts have meaning and value in society. This value can be measured both in economic and cultural terms, but the ability to negotiate and make sense of information is a very crucial skill for students and professionals. Understanding the generation of ideas and how to give proper attribution to previous scholars can help students find their own way toward contributing knowledge to a field.
While research is often treated as a straightforward process of locating relevant information, it actually is a very complex set of tasks. Rather than seeking oversimplified answers, research asks participants to engage in the open-ended exploration of various topics. Research methods allow students to begin asking the questions that they truly care about.
Expertise is gained through a series of practices—one of which is attaining a degree in a field. However, authority is something that is gained through participation in specific communities. Students learn to develop an authoritative voice by conducting research and sharing ideas with a broader audience.
As much as research is a process of exploring questions we have about the world, the creation of information is also an ongoing process that students engage with. Writing, in particular, highlights the important of a process for writing an effective, cohesive text.
We live in a rich information ecosystem, and every time you search for something on Google, you’re exploring a topic. Students in Critical Skills, however, will learn how to expand their set of search tools in order to locate credible and substantial information.
Go to Top