Promoting Critical Thinking Skills in Language Education through Online Discussions

Promoting Critical Thinking Skills in Language Education through Online Discussions

Ugur Demiray (Anadolu University, Turkey), Murat Hismanoglu (European University of Lefke, Turkey) and Sibel Hismanoglu (European University of Lefke, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-071-2.ch001
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Abstract

Online discussion has become one of the most effective teaching tools in recent years in terms of its power to promote students’ critical thinking skills in educational contexts. This chapter aims at presenting an overview of recently conducted research studies on critical thinking and online discussions, explaining online discussion as a pedagogical vehicle for maximizing language learning and teaching, identifying problems related to online discussions, as well as some suggested solutions, describing application activities that promote critical thinking skills, illustrating how language teachers and learners can use meta-communication in creating successful online discussions, and stressing the importance of the teacher’s role in designing an effective online discussion environment for students.
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Defining Critical Thinking

The term critical thinking has been defined by a number of researchers. According to Angelo (1995:6), critical thinking is “the intentional application of rational, higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, problem recognition and problem solving, inference, and evaluation”. Scriven & Paul (1996) defined critical thinking as “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”. Facione (1998) described 6 main skills of critical thinking self-regulation, interpretation, analysis, inference, explanation and evaluation as exhibited in Figure 1.

Figure 1.

Core critical thinking skills (Source: Facione, P. A. (1998))

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