‘Critical Thinking Skills Instruction and Reading between the Lines’ – Hossein Pourghasemian & S. Mohammad Bagherzadeh Hosseini

Abstract

Critical thinking (CT) is an important life skill in modern societies and is of particular import in academic settings where students need to be able to analyze ideas to get at clear understanding. However, unlike ordinary thinking, which is an inborn human endowment, CT seems to require implicit or explicit instruction. Attempts have been made to introduce it into general education. And like any other innovation, it has found its way to second language pedagogy. Hence, there have been studies to relate CT to second language acquisition (SLA) in general and language skills in particular. This study set out to see if training in CT skills had any effect on the inferential reading comprehension. Sixty college students were selected through a proficiency (TOEFL) test and were then randomly assigned to two equal sized groups: critical and noncritical. Both groups received reading comprehension instruction, but the critical group got supplemental in CT skills. A specially tailored reading test was administered to measure the participants’ inferential understanding. The results indicated that the critical group outperformed the noncritical group t (58) = 3.27, p > 0.5. The implication for language teaching may be either adoption of a critical orientation to teaching, or adaptation of CT skills to fit the language class.

Index Terms: critical thinking, inferential reading comprehension, second language acquisition.

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