Last year, a group of pre-service teachers and I had the chance to attend Oxford University Press Day here in Santiago de Chile.
One of the speakers was Lucia Prat from Argentina. She delivered quite an engaging presentation on how to promote and assess critical thinking in our lessons and tests. She’s an EFL Teacher with a graduate degree in Neuroscience.
The image below is the model she presented for the activities and testing items used to foster critical & higher order thinking in the teaching and learning of English as a foreign language.
Dr Lucia Prat pointed out that the picture below (recreated here by me here) is posted in every single classroom of the school she runs. Likewise, in tests, her students also find this 3-storey house with one of the three floors highlighted next to each test item / section. In other words, students can see the type of thinking required to complete the task successfully.
I really like the simplicity of this image. Our task is to make it happen, which can be a much more complex process.
My personal point of view is that if we limit our students’ learning to managing a range of vocabulary or syntax items ONLY, they will never be fully competent in English as it is used in the REAL WORLD. Hence, they will forcibly TRASH our lessons and find themselves at a loss in the real world.
Most of us have feel that after 12 years of schooling, much of we were to learn simply didn’t work in life.
We are to make every possible effort so that our students do not go through that frustrating experience themselves.
Teaching fails when it divorces from presenting the complexities of the real world. No matter what you intend to teach or rather promote for your students to learn.
With standardized examinations, there’s is indeed a slight exception, because the test itself might force you teach language in isolation. However, knowing that our students will face complex life situations once they arrive at the school of their choice, we cannot turn a blind eye and only make sure they “pass the test”. Even in courses for TOEFL, IELTS or the old-fashioned GMAT, we need to provide instances so students can later not just sit in a class but also become active members in their classroom and their school community at large.
I’ve found a few link to complement our understanding of critical thinking and how it can be measured.
Hope they help! and feel free to comment here & post your own links as well.
A Model for the National Assessment of Higher Order Thinking
A short yet interesting article: Critical Thinking by Design
Assessing Critical thinking
Incorporating Critical Thinking Skills Development into ESL/EFL Courses
(A short but great article, no non-sense here: )
Engaging Beginning Level ESL Learners In Critical Thinking
(since it’s a wiki, you can see how the discussion has developed and then contribute with your own takes and experience)