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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY- HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POSTGRADUATE STUDIES
------------------------

HUỲNH NGỌC TUYỀN

A STUDY ON STUDENTS’ PERCEPTION AND PRACTICES OF
CRITICAL THINKING IN ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES,
VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
(NGHIÊN CỨU VỀ NHẬN THỨC VÀ THỰC TẾ TƯ DUY PHÊ PHÁN
TRONG ĐỌC HIỂU TIẾNG ANH CỦA SINH VIÊN TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC
NGOẠI NGỮ, ĐẠI HỌC QUỐC GIA HÀ NỘI )

M.A. COMBINED PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60140111

HANOI – 2017



VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY- HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POSTGRADUATE STUDIES
------------------------

HUỲNH NGỌC TUYỀN

A STUDY ON STUDENTS’ PERCEPTION AND PRACTICES OF
CRITICAL THINKING IN ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES,
VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
(NGHIÊN CỨU VỀ NHẬN THỨC VÀ THỰC TẾ TƯ DUY PHÊ PHÁN
TRONG ĐỌC HIỂU TIẾNG ANH CỦA SINH VIÊN TRƯỜNG ĐẠI HỌC
NGOẠI NGỮ, ĐẠI HỌC QUỐC GIA HÀ NỘI)

M.A. COMBINED PROGRAMME THESIS

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60140111
Supervisor: Assoc.Prof.Dr Nguyễn Xuân Thơm

HANOI - 2017


DECLARATION
I certify that this minor thesis entitled “A study on students’ perceptions
and practices of critical thinking in English reading comprehension at the
University of Languages and International studies” is the study of my own
research and the substance of this research has not been submitted for a degree to
any other university or institution.
Ha Noi, March , 2017
Signature

Huỳnh Ngọc Tuyền

i



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to express my gratitude to all those who have given me great
assistance in the completion of my research work.
In the first place, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my
supervisor Assoc.Prof.Dr Nguyen Xuan Thom, who has provided me with
insightful discussion, helpful comments, valuable support in the preparation and
completion of this thesis. Without his guidance and help, this work would not have
been accomplished.
Secondly, my sincere thanks also go to all lecturers and staff of the
department of Post- Graduate studies for their valuable lessons and precious helps.
Thanks to their lessons as well as needed helps, I could overcome enormous
obstacles when doing the study.
I also wish to acknowledge the cooperation of lecturers and the third year
students at the University of Languages and International Studies in contributing to
the data collection presented in this study.
Last but not least, I would like to express my deepest thanks to my dear
family and friends for their encouragement and great support during my time of
fulfilling this thesis.

ii


ABSTRACT
The purpose of the present study was to explore the perceptions of the third
year students about critical thinking and their practices of critical thinking skills in
English reading comprehension. The intent was to discover if undergraduate
students realize the importance and significance of critical thinking. This study
advances our understanding of critical thinking through a thorough review of
literature and from perspectives of learmers. The study was conducted with an
deductive approach with the participation of 40 students from the faculty FELTVNU of the ULIS university. They were both male and female students of Business
Administration and Economic classes. Data was collected through interviewing and
questionnaire papers. The findings of the study revealed that there were cognitive
skills, reflection and criteria that students perceived to relate to critical thinking.
Most of the surveyed students realize and believe in the value of critical thinking as
an academic competency that is crucial for their future success and progress. Most
students practice these skills of critical thinking to their

English reading

comprehension. The results also shed light on students‘ perceptions on the
developing of critical thinking in the process of enhancing their own critical
reading. This study also provides some suggestions for for teaching and learning
about the strategies, techniques and practices of effectively reading comprehension
to undergraduate students.

iii


TABLES OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION ......................................................................................................... i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................................................ii
ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................. iii
TABLES OF CONTENTS ......................................................................................... iv
LIST OF ABBREVIATION .....................................................................................vii
PART A INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................... 1
1. Rationale ................................................................................................................. 1
2. Statement of the problem ........................................................................................ 3
3. Aims of the research................................................................................................ 4
4. Objectives of the study ............................................................................................ 5
5. Research questions .................................................................................................. 5
6. Scope of the research .............................................................................................. 5
7. Significance of the research .................................................................................... 5
8. Structural organization of the thesis ........................................................................ 7
PART B: DEVELOPMENT..................................................................................... 9
CHAPTER 1 REVIEW OF LITERATURE .......................................................... 9
1.1. Review of models of Critical Thinking in academic research ............................. 9
1.2. Reading comprehension in a foreign language .................................................. 26
1.2.1. Definition ........................................................................................................ 26
1.2.2. Importance of Reading Comprehension ......................................................... 27
1.2.3. Types of reading .............................................................................................. 27
1.3. Review of relevant studies on the field .............................................................. 31
CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY .......................................................................... 34
2.1. Context of the study ........................................................................................... 34
2.2. Methods of the study .......................................................................................... 37
2.3. Research approach ............................................................................................. 37
2.4. Participants ......................................................................................................... 39

iv


2.5. Recruitment of participants and ethical consideration ....................................... 40
2.6. Data collection instrument and Analysis ........................................................... 41
2.6.1 The questionnaires ........................................................................................... 41
2.6.2 Interviews ......................................................................................................... 42
2.6.3. Methods of Data analysis ................................................................................ 44
CHAPTER 3 RESULTS AND DISCUSSION ...................................................... 45
3.1. Students‘ perceptions of Critical Thinking ........................................................ 45
3.1.1. Critical thinking in relation to the ability to boost up a deeper understanding
level ........................................................................................................................... 47
3.1.2. Perception of critical thinking with regard to provide an outcome ................ 50
3.2. Students‘ practices of Critical Thinking skills in English Reading .................. 51
3.2.1. The frequency of students‘practices focusing on sub skills of Analysis in
English reading comprehension ................................................................................ 51
3.2.2. The frequency of students‘ practices focusing on sub skills of Interpretation in
English reading comprehension ................................................................................ 52
3.2.3. The frequency of students‘ practices focusing on sub skills of Evaluation in
English reading comprehension ................................................................................ 53
3.2.4. The frequency of students‘ practices focusing on sub skills of Inference in
English reading comprehension ................................................................................ 54
3.2.5. The frequency of students‘ practices focusing on sub skills of Explanation in
English reading comprehension ................................................................................ 55
3.2.6. The frequency of students‘ practices focusing on sub skills of Self-regulation
in English reading comprehension ............................................................................ 56
Participant interviews ................................................................................................ 57
3.3. Perceptions regarding to developing critical thinking skills .............................. 62
3.4. Main findings and Discussions .......................................................................... 63
CHAPTER4:SUGGESTIONS

TO

TEACHING

OF

READING

COMPREHENSION............................................................................................... 69
4.1. Balanced instruction comprehension ................................................................. 69

v


4.2. Introducing students critical thinking skills applied for reading comprehension72
4.3. Enhancing students‘ application of critical reading at home ............................. 73
4.4. Making students want to read ............................................................................ 73
4.5. Guiding students to choose and share good materials ....................................... 73
4.6. Using reading reflection to enhance undergraduate students‘ critical reading
ability......................................................................................................................... 74
4.7. Building a Comprehension Curriculum to encourage critical thinking ............. 75
PART C:CONCLUSION........................................................................................ 79
REFERENCES ........................................................................................................ 83
APPENDIX : .............................................................................................................. I

vi


LIST OF ABBREVIATION
CT: Critical Thinking
FELTE: Faculty of Language Teaching Education
ULIS: University of Languages and International Studies
VNU: Vietnam National University

vii


PART A
INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale
The world operates at a swift pace. No longer is one country isolated from
another. With the internet and information being attainable in a split second, the
need for thinkers who can think about their thinking and synthesize information is
imperative for the world to grow into a cohesive community of thinkers. In a
smaller context of an academic world at universities where information is abundant,
it is important for students to be able to critically evaluate information and
understand their own thoughts and biase. Hence, one of the significant aims of
every education is to produce learners who are well informed, that is to say, learners
should understand ideas that are important, useful, beautiful and powerful. Another
is to create learners who have the appetite to think analytically and critically, to use
what they know to enhance their own lives and also to contribute to their society,
culture and civilization. On the other hand, the study of assessing the use of these
skills is essential in a world where information and decisionmaking is key to the
future success of people around the world. Just as it is in other areas of education
that are necessary for creating engaged learners, so is learning to think critically.
The continued need for critical thinking to be taught, interpreted and studied
remains evident. Critical thinking skills can solve world - wide problems, bond
cultures, traditions, and generations by opening meaningful conversations. This
shows that critical thinking has an important role in education. The notions of
critical thinking are constantly refered in documentation incorporating desired
learning outcomes, benchmark statements and quality indicator at almost all
university education. Therefore, it is imperative that citizens of the 20th and 21st
centuries think critically and the need for critical thinking skills has been identified
as a national and international priority.
Critical thinking has been mentioned From Socrates to contemporary
scholars. There have been continuous requirement of educated citizens and qualified
1


workforce about the competence to think critically. The world is consitently moving
toward a technology-based economy, facing worldwide competition. As a result, the
need for workers with analytical thinking skills to select information from a wide
range of sources and competently make fruitful decisions is also increasingly
crucial. Within such a complex and swiftly altering world, critical thinking is
obviously an essential tool in order to successfully perform in the competitive life.
In the twentieth first century, it is argued that learning to think is the fundamental
objective of education. The emphasis has been moved from confering information
and content to the learners, to enhancing their thinking skills. Ashraah, ALNabrawi, Shdeifat, and Al-Ali (2012) affirmed that education systems in almost all
over the world are shifting their focus to improving learners‘ higher mental
processes comprising critical thinking, and problem solving.
Howie (2011) highlighted that the ability to think critically is one of the
highest levels of mental activity. It empowers people to engage in the practices of
making decisions and organizing work (Alazzi & Khawaldeh, 2008). In order to
meet marketplace demands and solve societal and modern everyday life problems, it
is crucial to develop learners‘ cognitive skills to help them be successful in their
upcoming life plans in various fields. Gaining the ability to think critically could
assist learners to form their thoughts and ideas instead of just repeating and
following those of others, by activating their intellectual abilities to evaluate
different perspectives and viewpoints. A critical reason for developing learners‘
mental abilities through the school context, as suggested by Alwadai (2014), is to
further develop learner s‘ mental growth by offering them practical chances that
could challenge their thinking processes. Thus, it is the teacher‘s role to train
learners to think critically and push them to activate their higher thinking abilities.
Concerning to the situation in Viet Nam, although the Vietnamese Ministry
of Education has been try to reform both textbooks and teacher training, following
effective and efficient learning and teaching approaches of other countries like The
United States of America (USA), The United Kingdom (UK), and some European
2


countries, they still lag far behind achieving complete success in reforming their
education system with regard to students‘ development of critical thinking. The
reason can be realized as that partly most Vietnamese learners show poor abilities
and kills of independence, creativeness and activeness in their thinking and beliefs.
Most Vietnamese students tend to memorize and rewrite pre-thought information at
classes as opposed to thinking out their own ideas and assessing facts and not taking
those taught by their teachers for granted. What is more, according to Helmke and
Tuyet (1999), repetitive teaching and learning ways were typical cultural features in
the Vietnamese classrroms. When students are at high schools they are in typical
Vietnamese classroom with activities that are dominated by lectures with limited
questioning or discussion. Therefore, they are still greatly suffering from difficulties
in their English language learning skills despite all efforts and costs once they
moved to higher education at colleges or universities. Critical thinking skills in
English language learning and teaching have not received much attention. Thereby,
it can be supposed that the concept of critical thinking still far beyond in mind of
most Vietnamese students. Without the exact knowledge and right perceptions of
critical thinking, students may think they are doing the right job in enhancing their
critical thinking when unfortunately they are not. To explore this issue in greater
detail, this study was developed to explore the perceptions students have about
critical thinking, as well as their current practices of critical thinking skills in
reading comprehension and their views towards developing critical thinking ability.
2. Statement of the problem
The intent of this study was to explore the students‘perceptions and practices
regarding critical thinking skills. The goal of this study was to investigate the
critical thinking knowledge and critical thinking application of students, and their
views toward the developing critical thinking skills. Learners‘ perceptions and
actual application play a very critical role in the learning process and personal skills
of themselves in the way that can significantly reinforce their way to think, leading
to action. Thus, their negative practices of critical thinking and their lack of
3


adequate awareness of thinking skills can also be a limitation to their ability to
assist the learning process (Kowalczyk et al., 2012).
Students may intend to develop their thinking at a higher level, which would
contain critical thinking skills, when unfortunately, their perception and knowledge
about this subject is inadequate. There is an empirical gap of information regarding
the perception of students with regard to critical thinking skills, as well as the actual
practices they have regarding critical thinking concepts. Gathering such information
would be a valuable stage in igniting the process of establishing a model of
providing the best quality critical thinking instruction in classrooms.
According to Sng (2011), it is suggested that critical thinking skills may vary
depending on the varieties of cultures, values and educational backgrounds. This
means that critical thinking cannot be connected to intellectual skills alone. The way
we think critically about the world around us is deeply affected by the construction
of morals, principles, and spiritual views.
In that light, this study is carried out with the expectation of giving the
Vietnamese English teachers better understanding of the extent to what
undergraduate students perceive the issue of critical thinking as well as the extent to
what they practice critical thinking in a particular part of the process, English
reading comprehension learning. In brief, the current study was intended to examine
the knowledge and perceptions of critical thinking of students from a small context
of FLTE-VNU. The aim of the current study was to explore the patterns of the third
year students understanding of basic critical thinking concepts and personal
perceptions regarding critical thinking development, and critical thinking practices
in reading comprehension.
3. Aims of the research
The purpose of this research is to have a closer look at perception of
critical thinking among third year students. It aims specifically at (1) investigating
students‘ perception of critical thinking; (2) identifying the relation between their
perception and application of critical thinking shown through their reading
4


practices; (3) pointing out the expectation of students regarding studying and
applying critical thinking and suggesting feasible solutions to promote student‘s
proficiency and improve the implementation of critical thinking skills in English
reading comprehension to help them read better with consideration.
4. Objectives of the study
The objectives of the present study are:
(1) To identify the definition of the third year students regarding critical thinking.
(2) To explore the perceptions of the students on developing some aspects of
the critical thinking skills.
(3) To make practical recommendations based on the findings of the study
regarding the implementation of the critical thinking in reading in Vietnamese
educational context.
5. Research questions
This study addressed the following research questions:
R1: What are students’ perceptions of critical thinking in term of definition ?
R2: How are students applying critical thinking skills in English reading
comprehension?
R3: What are students views toward developing critical thinking skills?
6. Scope of the research
The current study will focus on investigating the perception of the
undergraduate students of critical thinking. Furthermore, the study will explore the
learners‘ realization of their perceptions in English reading comprehension. A
number of 114 students who are taking Business Administration and Economics as
their major will be chosen as the subjects of the study.
7. Significance of the research
Theoretical Significance
First, and most of all, this study is based on a research framework derived from
a critical evaluation of research models with regard to critical thinking. Consequently,

5


its intellectual and practical implications address concerns raised in that research, and
so extend the relevance of this study beyond in the Vietnam context.
Second, this study serves as the basis for establishing a realistic
understanding of what undergraduates really think and believe about the meaning
and value of critical thinking. The study also provides insight into the actual
development of these skills applied in English reading comprehension by these
students outside the classroom setting.
Third, the study provides a critical review of current thought in the
conceptualization of critical thinking. Subsequently, it offers a background for
finding ways in assisting the critical thinking process at undergraduate students.
Next, there is a large body of research on the skills students need to learn to
read; however, the majority of current research focuses on techniques to improve
reading ability of students, no much study focusing on critical thinking. The amount
of research on reading comprehension, while becoming more prevalent, still falls
behind that of teaching students to read effective in dealing with exames. For
university students, far less research is conducted, and research on critical thinking
skills in English reading comprehension is negligible. Additionally, while
motivation is one aspect to reading, fewer studies have focused on the relative
importance of affective factors and disposition to reading comprehension. This
study fills those gaps.
Lastly, very few studies in Vietnam have been conducted on the area of
critical thinking skills. With the large number of students who struggle to read,
research into the relative importance of factors that explain reading comprehension
for university students is important not only to teritary students and their teachers
but to society as a whole. Therefore, this study has a significance of filling up these
gaps in the theoretical framework. Also significant to the theoretical framework of
this study is the fact that the development of critical thinking skills is not an easy or
natural process (Van Gelder, 2005). The role that perception plays in shaping one‘s
reality is also significant.
6


Practical significance
The study contributes to the practical background of English language
learning and teaching at a specific context, which will serve as a source for teachers
to find ways to develop students‘ critical thinking ability and improve the quality of
their teaching as well as the English proficiency of the students, especially in
reading comprehension.
The study provides the pedagogy of critical thinking with data evaluating the
practical aspects from the perspectives of the students participating in this study.
To be more specific, this study provides a framework for other teachers who
have an interest in developing students' critical thinking skills. This study was
intended to help students and teachers realize the importance of developing critical
thinking skills as a way for students to function effectively in the society as
successful, empowered, independent, and responsible decision makers.
8. Structural organization of the thesis
The study consists of three main parts:
Part A: “INTRODUCTION” includes the rationale, the aims and
objectives, the scope, the research questions, the methods, and the significance of
the study. This part in general provides the background discussion and an overview
of the study
Part B: “DEVELOPMENT” is organized in three main chapters:
Chapter 1 is Literature Review. This chapter presents some of the basic
issues in relation to theoretical questions and related studies on perceptions of
critical thing, critical reading and the significance of critical thinking in EFL. The
chapter begins with a review of chosen models of critical thinking. Several
controversial issues which are essential to the notion of critical thinking and critical
reading as well as reading comprehension are also presented in this chapter.
Chapter 2 is Methodology which covers the context, the methodology used
in this study including the context, the subject, the data collection instruments, data
collection procedure and data analysis
7


Chapter 3 is Results and Discussion. In this chapter, the data collected from
the questionnaires are analyzed and categorized. The findings of this study will then
be discussed. This is used as the cornerstone for the recommendation in the next
chapter
Chapter 4 is Suggestions to teaching reading comprehension. In this
chapter, several feasible solutions are suggested to develop students‘ reading
comprehension with regard to the application of critical thinking
Part C: “ CONCLUSION” offers a summary of the findings, limitations
and future directions for further study.

8


PART B: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
This chapter presents key issues in theories and definitions of critical
thinking with intention to identify its underpinning foundations and application for
this study. It is evident that the development of the concept critical thinking in term
of definitions, and models has been mentioned proliferatively in the literature. For
the purpose of streamlining the terms used to refer to the definition, conception and
theory of critical thinking, this study uses the term ― model‖ to represent them. A
model of critical thinking here is refered to as ― a schematic description of a system,
theory, or phenomenon that account for its known or inferred properties and may be
used for further study of its characteristics‖ (The free dictionary 2010).
1.1. Review of models of Critical Thinking in academic research
For a long time, critical thinking has been a disputed and confusing term.
Educators and researchers working on critical thinking trying to understand it have
been faced with a problem: there are numerous models of critical thinking offering
different definitions in the literature. Indeed, there is no concensus in defining
critical thinking regardless of ample of research studies have been undertaken. The
work of two major researchers Paul and Lipman has also exemplified this issue.
The history of the evolution of the critical thinking development was
thoroughly provided recently in the work of Paul (2011). He proposed three waves
of the critical thinking movements since the early 1970s. As such, the first wave,
represented by philosophers, focused on the theory of logic, argumentation and
reasoning. The second wave, dominated by cognitive psychologists, focused on
―critical pedagogy‖. The third wave involved work that overcomes the weaknesses
of the first two waves. Paul proclaims that the first two waves were seen as two
ways of thought about critical thinking. According to him, one focused only on the
theoretical aspect of critical thinking and the other merely on the practical aspect.
9


Therefore, Paul proposed the third wave as to fulfill the deficiency of the first two
waves. He writes:
The field needs a comprehensive theory of thinking and critical thinking. It
needs a clear set of intellectual standards. It needs an integrated set dispositions. It
needs a comprehensive concept of logic which accommodates the role of emotion,
intuitition, imagination, and values in thinking. It needs to make clear leading role
of thinking in the shaping of human feelings and behaviour. It needs to provide a
framework into which can be set integrated theories of teaching and learning in the
widest variety of human contexts. It must provide both for the universal elements in
reasoning and those which are domain and context-specific (Paul, 2011)
Lipman ( 2013) also contributes a significant discussion on the growth of the
critical thinking movement. His contribution to the critical thinking research work
was the examining of reasons behind each movement from the perspectives of
philosophy, education and pedagogy from the 1980s onwards. Both of these two
researchers also share the common view that there is no consensus of definition for
critical thinking. The sections below presents different models in an attempt to
provide a general picture of the notion critical thinking.
Due to the complicated nature of critical thinking, it is necessary to
understand critical thinking as much as possible. With regard to the work of Paul
(2011) on three waves of critical thinking study, conclusion are made that these
waves focus on different research agendas and emphasise on different aspects in
their application. This is aligned to the relevant important theorists for the study to
consider. These waves and theorists are summarized in the table 2.1 as below:
Table 1: Summary of Critical Thinking waves and important wave theorists (Paul,
2011)
CT Waves

Related Critical Thinking Theorists

1st wave (1970-1982)

Aristotle, Dewey, Glaser, McPerk

Formal & informal logic
Reasoning
10


Argumentation
2nd wave (1980-1993)

Brookfield, Cottrel, Ennis, Delphi

Critical thinking across the curriculum

report, Lipman

3rd wave (1990- present)

Barnett, Ennis, Paul & Elder

Depth and comprehensiveness in Theory
and Practice
Source: Critical Thinking waves and important wave theorists (Paul, 2011)
Paul‘s work was comprehensive and thus evaluated as a good reference for
critical thinking models. It is evident from the table mentioned above that many
critical thinking theorists with different emphases have emerged from different
periods of time. However it is not possible to examine all of the models of critical
thinking that fit into three movements in one chapter. In addition, it is challenging
to try to relate critical thinking theorists according to Paul‘s perspective. To be more
specific, the critical thinking model of Ennis is characterized with elements of both
wave two and wave three. This shows that some models are actually involving over
time and are not necessarily static.
Therefore, in this paper, I only attempt to study selected critical thinking
theorist, whom I believe has influenced the majority of today‘s educators and
students. These critical thinking theorists are also frequently referred to and cited in
the academic literature and textbooks. This means that they are the key critical
thinking theorists, being commonly used in university and higher education.
As a result, this study specifically focuses on four models for indepth review
including work of Dewey (2004), Ennis (2011), the Delphi report (1990), Lipman (
2003), and Paul and Elder (2008). It must be noted that the selection of these new
models inform the study about the variation of ways in which critical thinking is
understood and perceived in the literature. The aim is to draw out the defining
natures of these selected models of critical thinking and identify the common
emphases observed in the models.

11


John Dewey (2004) employs the phrase ― reflective thinking‖ while giving
definition for the term critical thinking. According to him, critical thinking is
characterized as an active process, an activity that requires careful thought based on
the reasons on which one stands:
Active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of
knowledge in light of the grounds which support it and the further conclusion to
which it tends (Dewey, 2004)
Dewey (2004) further explains the term ―reflective thinking‖ as the ability to
put aside judgement, maintain a healthy scepticism and exercise an open mind. In a
more detail, critical thinking from perspective of Dewey involves many aspects.
First, Dewey asserts that critical thinking refers to an active process in which
students are required to think things through, raise questions and search for further
information while facing with a given message or information rather than learning
passively from someone else. Second, he considers

―persistent and careful‖

thinking in contrast with unreflective thinking in order to highlight what he called
―persist a bit‖, which is considered as an important indicator of critical thinking.
Therefore, critical thinking is related with putting aside judgement, maintaing a
healthy scepticism and practicing an open mind. These indicators of critical
thinking are referring to dispositions of a critical thinker in the current literature (for
example, the Delphi report). In the paper of Dewey, the two the terms ― attitude‖
and ― disposition‖ were used interchangeably.
Most significantly, Dewey involves the connection between belief and
knowledge with experience. It is marked by ―acceptance or rejection of something
as reasonably probable or improbable‖ (Dewey, 2007, p.4). Therefore, it can be
withdrawn from this sense that critical thinking covers both intellectual and
reflective ability. Students must be able to examine, question and reflect on what
they have learned. As a result, critical thinking from perspective of Dewey is not
just about finding a solution to the problem; it is also a reflection on the process of
deriving the solution based on the knowledge the student has.
12


Besides Dewey, one of the most widely used definitions of critical thinking
is from Robert Ennis:
Critical thinking is reasonable, reflective thinking that is focused on deciding
what to believe or do (Ennis, 1987)
Like Dewey, Ennis also employs the term ― reflective thinking‖ involving
with reflection and reasonableness while giving definition for critical thinking.
Besides, he adds ―deciding what to …do‖, implying that there is a decision -making
element in the critical thinking process. Furthermore, Ennis (1991) suggests that in
deciding what to believe or do, one employs a set of critical thinking dispositions
and abilities. In his most recent revised work in the year 2011, Ennis proposes three
basic dispositions for his critical thinking model:
Care that one‘s belief be true, and that one‘s decisions be justified; that is,
care to ―get it right‖ to the extent possible;
Care to present a position honestly and clearly, one‘s own as well as others‘;
Care about the dignity and worth of every person ( a correlative disposition).
In fact, Ennis‘s dispositions elaborate on those of Dewey above. To further
examine his description, Ennis is intention to focus ― caring‖ critical thinkers who
take responsibility for their own opinions, beliefs and actions.
In addition to dispositions, Ennis also introduces fifteen abilities to describe
critical thinkers. Among of these abilities are clarification; decision-making;
inference; supposition and integration. Conclusion can be made that it was not until
Ennis proposed the concept of dispositions that his prior conception of critical
thinking revealed a model of ―skills set‖. Exposed to ciritcal thinking model of
Dewey, Ennis‘s model includes additional aspects of critical thinking involving
abilities or skills
The two typical critical thinking models discussed above have somehow
demonstrated its complex nature. Each model argues what is core to critical
thinking from perspectives of its founders. In a detailed examination, however,
some of the elements mentioned above have considerable overlaps. To illustrate, the
13


emphasis on relective thinking is observable both in Dewey‘s and Ennis‘ models. In
view of this overlapping concern, there was an attempt to synthesise the
contributions from those models. Hence, the Delphi report (1990) attempts to reach
an agreement for critical thinking among the theorists. Additionally, it also presents
a consensus model for critical thinking, which drawing much attention in later
critical thinking literature.
The Delphi report include an interactive pannel of experts, working together
to share their expertise, aiming at a consensus resolution for critical thinking. It is
important to include this report in this chapter because several of the forty-six
experts involved in this project have been considered and discussed in this chapter.
One of the purpose of this project was to achieve a rich and worthy goal: guiding
critical thinking assessment and curriculum and curriculum development at all
educational levels. As a result, this report brings in another critical thinking model,
presenting on the experts‘ consensus. Although the consensus was formulated to
establish a particular foundation for critical thinking models before 1990, this report
continues to be well acknowledged.
The final consensus statement was as follow:
We understand critical thinking (CT) to be purposeful, self-regulatory
judgement which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as
well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or
contextual considerations upon which that judgement is based. CT is essential as a
tool of inquiry. As such, CT is a liberating force in education and a powerful
resource in one’s personal and civic life. Why not synonymous with good thinking,
CT is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. The ideal critical thinker
is habitually inquisitive, well-informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible,
fair-minded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making
judgements, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters,
diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria,
focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results, which are as precise as the
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subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good critical
thinkers means working toward the this ideal. It combines developing CT skills with
nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are
the basis of a rational and democratic society (Facione, 1990, p.2).
This consensus reveals several key aspects of critical thinking. To begin
with, the experts reach an agreement that critical thinking involves both a skill
aspect and a dispositional aspect. In term of skill, this includes cognitive skills,
which can be summarised as: interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference,
explanation, and self-regulation. These are the core skills of critical thinking. Each
skill comprises of its own sub-skills (see Table 3 below) and the report attempts to
explain each of them clearly with examples. It is important to note that the experts
agreed that it is hard for anyone to apply them all. However, the report also suggests
that one should not consider this as an excuse for eliminating them out of the
educational institution (Delphi, 1990, p.3)
Table 2: Consensus list of CT cognitive skills and sub-skills (Delphi Report
1990, Facione 2013)
Core skills

Sub skills

Interpretation

Categorization
Decoding significance
Clarifying meaning

Analysis

Examining ideas
Identifying arguments
Analysing arguments

Evaluation

Assessing claims
Assessing arguments

Inference

Querying evidence
Conjecturing Alternatives
Drawing conclusions

Explanation

Stating results
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Justifying Procedures
Presenting Argumentation
Self-regulation Self-examination
Self-correcting
Source: Critical thinking cognitive skills and sub-skills (Delphi Report 1990,
Facione 2013)
Next, with regard to the disposition of critical thinking, the panellists are in
general accord with the view that there is a critical spirit, ― a probing
inquisitiveness, a keenness of mind, a zealous dedication to reason, and a hunger or
eagerness for reliable information which good critical thinkers possess but weak
critical thinkers do not seem to have‖ (Facione, 2013)
However, there was a divison in opinion as to whether the affective
dispositions are parts of the meaning of critical thinking. Some of them believe that
the meaning of critical thinking should include affective dimension. This group held
the view that a person who has critical thinking skills but can not use them should
not be called a critical thinker. On the other hand, some of the experts argue that a
person who uses critical thinking unethically should still be called a critical thinker,
but not a ―good‖ critical thinker. Despite the separation of opinion on this issue,
almost all the experts concur on the importance of the dispositions and suggested
ways to cultivate them in students. In brief, the Delphi report (1990) attempted to
reach a consensus of critical thinking from the theorists with regard to its two key
components, namely dispositions and skills.
Lipman (2003) argues that critical thinking is ―thinking that facilitates judgement
because it relies on criteria, is self-correcting, and is sensitive to context‖ (p.212). This
definition seems to be short and succinct, but we need to unpack what Lipman means by
―judgement‖, ―criteria‖, ―self-correcting‖, and ―sensitive to context‖
First, Lipman argues that the outcomes of critical thinking are judgements. He
explains that critical thinking is an applied thinking and its core product is judgement.

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