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A dialectical approach to critical thinking in EAP writing

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Title: A dialectical approach to critical thinking in EAP writing
Authors: Tanaka, Jay
Advisor: Brown, James D.
Issue Date: 2014
Abstract: Few would disagree that high quality thinking is a necessary condition for high quality writing. Yet, writing courses in English for Academic Purposes (EAP) often focus only marginally on principled and rigorous development of dialogical thinking and idea generation in preparation for written work. This study examines the effect of a model of critical thinking instruction (CTI) in a university level EAP writing course. Recent studies on CTI in EAP (Alnofaie, 2013; Hashemi & Ghanizadeh, 2012; Liaw, 2007; Shirkhani & Fahim, 2011; Yang & Gamble, 2013) have utilized models of CTI that, while reflecting varying degrees of attention to social context, inevitably center on the more traditional concepts of logicality and rational thinking skills. In contrast, this study’s distinct model of CTI is based on Paul’s (1995) concept of dialogical and dialectical thinking and guides students to consider and understand social issues and controversy through the analysis and evaluation of the differing belief systems behind opposing viewpoints. After the course, student interviews were conducted and analyzed through grounded theory and narrative analysis. Interview data revealed that CTI was found to be a practice that was typically unavailable in the students’ home countries and previous L2 English education, and was perceived as a challenging yet valuable addition to this EAP course curriculum. To varying degrees, students found the activity of critical thinking to align with their personal values and expressed a perceived need for critical thinking in order to succeed in future studies at the university level. The data contained frequent reports of students using critical thinking in their personal lives as a result of CTI. In addition, findings revealed a need to carefully position critical thinking as a tool with specific domains of use and limitations. These findings raise important questions about the inclusion of CTI in EAP and what forms are appropriate.
Pages/Duration: 32 pages
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/40733
Appears in Collections:SLS Papers



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