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Reflection on the roles of the EAP teacher and 'designed-in' tasks in cultivating or inhibiting students' critical thinking behaviours

Collins, V. ORCID: (2022) Reflection on the roles of the EAP teacher and 'designed-in' tasks in cultivating or inhibiting students' critical thinking behaviours. The Language Scholar, 10. pp. 32-43. ISSN 2398-8509

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EAP teachers are challenged with the responsibility to ‘employ tasks, processes and interactions that require students to demonstrate critical thinking skills’ (BALEAP, 2008, p.6). Opportunities to nurture these critical thinking skills in our students present themselves in ‘designed-in’ pedagogic tasks (Hammond and Gibbons, 2005, p.12), as well as our ‘contingent’, spontaneous interactions with or between students in our classroom practices(Hammond and Gibbons, 2005, p.12). Conversely, the planned tasks or our own teaching may inhibit students’ critical thinking behaviours by, for example, presenting a one-dimensional approach. This paper reports on a reflective inquiry task with EAP teachers to explore how our own teaching and that of the planned course materials cultivated or inhibited students’ critical thinking behaviours on an intensive EAP eight-week writing course. Three teachers and one-course coordinator made ongoing observations during delivery and categorised these against three broad views of critical thinking identified by Davies and Barnett(2015): the ‘skills and judgement’ view of critical thinking (p.11), the criticality perspective, with a focus on critical dispositions, and the critical pedagogy perspective (p.18). The analysis found that the planned-in pedagogic tasks prioritised the skills perspective; for example, the application of a set of skills such as analysis and synthesis. The less measurable tenet of cultivating a critical disposition was also afforded much attention, particularly through teachers own contingent classroom practices. In setting out to explore the above questions, the constraints of delivering such provision needed to be considered. A secondary aim was therefore to explore how to meaningfully reflect on and research our teaching in an intensive EAP environment. The teachers engaged in a review of materials and their delivery as the course was in progress. This provided a deeper reflection of both the planned tasks and their own contingent responses than mainstream end of module evaluations reveal.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > International Study and Language Institute (ISLI)
ID Code:107160
Uncontrolled Keywords:Critical thinking, English for Academic Purposes, self-reflection, pedagogic tasks
Publisher:University of Leeds


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