Relationship between Critical Thinking Dispositions and Critical Reading Skills of Malaysian ESL Learners

| September 3, 2014

Title

Relationship between Critical Thinking Dispositions and Critical Reading Skills of Malaysian ESL Learners

Keywords: critical thinking disposition, critical reading (comprehension) ability, ESL learners

Author

Zuhana Mohd Zin & Wong Bee Eng
Universiti Putra Malaysia

Zuhana Mohd Zin is a language instructor at UTM, International campus, Kuala Lumpur. She has vast experience in teaching English as a second language to Malaysian learners. She is currently pursuing her PhD in English Language. Her research area is in L2 reading focusing on critical reading skills and critical literacy.

Wong Bee Eng is an associate professor at the Faculty of Modern Languages and Communication, UPM. She teaches courses in linguistics and applied linguistics. Her main research interests are in the areas of syntactic and morphological mental representation and development, and vocabulary development in SLA, and L2 reading and writing.

Abstract

Critical thinking disposition, an inclination (Facione, Facione & Giancarlo, 2000) or tendency (Stunipsky, Renaud, Daniels, Haynes & Perry 2008) to use critical thinking skills, is one of the essential components in critical thinking. It is posited to play a positive role in influencing one’s cognitive behaviour in thinking (Giancarlo & Facione, 2001, Smith, 1992). Therefore, a strong inclination to think critically can positively influence a reader to exercise critical thinking skills when reading critically. This study explores for the first time the relationship between the critical thinking disposition and critical reading skills of Malaysian ESL learners. A total of 374 Malaysian ESL learners participated in the study. Their dispositions were measured by the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI), an instrument that measures seven critical thinking dispositional scales: truthseeking, openmindedness, analyticity, systematicity, confidence, maturity of judgment and inquisitiveness. A self-developed critical reading comprehension test (CRCT) measured the students’ critical reading skills of evaluation and analysis. The findings showed that the level of the students’ critical thinking disposition was average with a strong disinclination on the truthseeking scale and ambivalent disinclination on the openmindedness, systematicity and maturity scales. Subsequently, the results of the CCTDI were corroborated with the analysis of the open-ended comprehension questions that measured the critical skills of analysis and evaluation. The findings indicated that, to a certain extent, their lack of dispositional attitudes, i.e., truthseeking and openmindedness, toward critical thinking were reflected in their critical reading performance. The implication from the findings of the study suggests that we should rethink critical reading instructional designs that include explicit instruction on how to foster positive critical thinking habits. 

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Category: Quarterly Journal