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Critical thinking is a term used to describe one of the aims of higher education programs around the world. As an example, the Council of Writing Program Administrators (2011) clearly lists critical thinking as one of five inherently desirable educational outcomes in post-secondary writing in the United States. However, the definition of critical thinking is complicated by a large variety of philosophical concepts and a lack of clarity as to what students should actually learn and do (Moore, 2013). Too often, university courses impose unclear expectations on students, which adds unnecessary difficulty, particularly for multilingual, multicultural, and international students, who might not be socialized into the use of critical thinking in academic work. (Robertson, et al., 2000; Tran, 2011). Even university instructors themselves admit to a lack of comprehensive understanding of critical thinking and how it can be taught (Hang, 2011). In so far as standards for critical thinking in academic work will be imposed on students, there is a need for a clarification of critical thinking, leading to practical directions for classroom instruction.
In this chapter, I propose a pedagogically focused definition for critical thinking and illustrate how this definition can be applied to a teaching approach involving the exploration and presentation of information on social media. It begins with an explanation to students regarding the epistemology of critical thinking, dispositions that support or deter its practice, and integrated skills. Adhering to this framework of critical thinking, students then explore a variety of comments on social media in order to deepen their understanding of social issues and of society itself. This approach to teaching critical thinking also provides a structure for academic presentations or written assignments that may serve as final products of the learning experience. The nature of student perspectives with regards to this approach to teaching critical thinking is also discussed.
Keywords: Multilogical thinking, Higher-order thinking, English for academic purposes, English for specific purposes, Academic writing, Academic presentation
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