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|Title:||Assessing critical thinking in the writing of Japanese university students : insights about assumptions, content familiarity and biology|
|Presented at:||University of Leicester|
|Abstract:||Recent beliefs over the appropriateness of using cultural constructs as a tool to enhance foreign language learning have become entrenched into polarized camps. Disagreement between these two sides most often arises in the field of L2 writing. While writing encompasses many different facets, one of these, critical thinking, has received considerable attention. Some research suggests that Asians, including Japanese, do not display critical thinking as conveyed by their writing in English. On the other hand, other researchers claim that Asian learners are far too diverse to make claims about the whole group's thinking abilities.;The present study proposes a model for assessing critical thinking in the writing of L2 learners in order to determine whether: 1) Japanese learners think critically, 2) instruction in critical thinking enhances their ability to think critically, 3) content familiarity plays a role in critical thinking, and 4) hierarchy and collectivity prevent Japanese from criticizing. Findings of an experiment performed on 69 Japanese undergraduate students using control and treatment groups and a pre- post-treatment design indicate that subjects did think critically and showed improvement after receiving instruction. However, the quality of critical though appeared to depend on the topic content with a familiar topic generating better critical thinking. In addition, it was found that notions of hierarchy or collectivism did not prevent subjects from being critical.;Recent disagreement over whether Japanese language learners have critical thinking abilities is used here as a representation of how TESOL researchers have confirmed themselves to the intellectual framework of the social sciences. Working under assumptions about human behaviour that consider the brain a tabula rasas, TESOL researchers fail to consider new understandings coming from evolutionary psychology. This paper explains how critical thinking may be just one of many domain specific mechanisms with which all humans are equipped at birth. On a larger level, it is suggested that the TESOL community needs to broaden beyond the notion that 'learning' is the one and only way in which human behaviour can be understood.|
|Rights:||Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.|
|Appears in Collections:||Theses, School of Education|
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