Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Proposed Program to Develop Teaching for Thinking in Pre-Service English Language Teachers

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Proposed Program to Develop Teaching for Thinking in Pre-Service English Language Teachers

Article excerpt

Abstract

Students' thinking is an integral part of English language pedagogy. Teachers need the pedagogical competence to teach thinking effectively. This research suggests a program to develop the teaching skills for thinking of pre-service teachers (fourth-year college students) in the English Department of the Faculty of Education at Princess Noura University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The program aims to provide the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for preparing teachers of thinking to invite, maintain, and enhance students' thinking in the EFL classroom. A classroom observation checklist was developed to assess teaching for thinking skills, to understand the student teachers progress in developing such skills. The program was pilot tested on five fourth-year student teachers during their field experience. Data analysis and results of the pilot test have shown that the proposed program can be effective in developing the pre-service English language teachers' skills in teaching for thinking.

Keywords: methods of TEFL, thinking skills, pre-service teachers, teaching for thinking, classroom observation checklist, teacher training program

1. Introduction

In today's age of information, mastery of thinking skills is considered a basic requirement for coping with this rapidly changing world. Learning to think critically and creatively is a lifelong skill with broad applications both inside and outside the classroom. "Thinking is what we do to 'play' the instrument of knowledge. Thinking is what brings knowledge to life, what puts it to work,...what shapes it toward creative products and outcomes" (Perkins, 2008, p. x). Swartz (2001) points out that it is through careful thinking that human beings can make the most of their minds, and through such behaviors that great civilizations are built. The term thinking skills has recently become something of a buzz word in educational circles, and developing the students' potential for thinking critically and creatively has gained prominence and wide popularity around the globe for the promise it holds for effective learning. U.S. schools consider mastery of thinking skills a major goal of instruction in almost all subject areas. Fisher (2007) claims that critical and creative thinking is now widely seen as a basic competency that should be taught, akin to reading and writing.

Developing thinking skills addresses many complex issues in teaching and learning. Swartz, Costa, Beyer, Reagan, and Kallic (2008) and Swartz (2001) claim that teaching skillful thinking not only enhances students' thinking abilities and learning in the content areas but also greatly improves the quality of their lives and their professional work after they leave school. It also improves their self-images and their motivation to learn. Subject-matter learning and thinking skills improvement can each reinforce and contribute to the development of the other in a highly integrated fashion (Prawat, 1991). Beyer (2008) believes that the research showing the effectiveness of teaching thinking skills and the benefits derived from it indicates that such teaching is worth doing. It improves students' academic achievement and their quality of thinking. Hyerle (2000) indicates that the systematic use of thinking maps leads to improvement in test results and quality indicators. Wenglinsky (2000) reported that students of math teachers who studied and taught for higher order thinking skills outperformed students who were not taught these skills.

Perkins (2008) points out that the idea of teaching thinking is very old but that a fully developed art and craftof teaching it is quite new. Brandt (1984) suggests that a balanced program for the teaching of thinking should include three components: teaching for thinking, teaching of thinking, and teaching about thinking. Costa (2001a) provides an interpretation of each term:

1. Teaching for thinking means that "teachers and administrators examine, monitor and strive to create school and classroom conditions that are conducive to children thinking" (p. …

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