An Investigation of Critical Thinking Levels of Examination Questions for B.A. Compulsory English at the University of the Punjab

By Shah, Sayed Kazim; Rani, Rabia et al. | International Journal of Linguistics, March 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

An Investigation of Critical Thinking Levels of Examination Questions for B.A. Compulsory English at the University of the Punjab


Shah, Sayed Kazim, Rani, Rabia, Mahmood, Rashid, Irm, Rana, International Journal of Linguistics


Abstract

In a country like Pakistan, Written examination is a conventional tool to evaluate the student's performance in any subject area, where the required cognitive ability is defined through items such as learning outcomes. So in such a system, students' ability depends very much on the questions asked in the written examination question papers. A good and reasonable examination paper must, therefore, consist of various difficulty levels to accommodate the different capabilities of students.

In this work, the difficulty level of each question in the examination paper is determined from the criteria of keyword/s found in the question. The paper provides conclusions on the current relationship between examination questions, learning outcomes and student performance, as well as providing some indication of the relative changes required to move toward a more appropriate association and hence improve an assessment strategy.

Keywords: Critical thinking levels, B.A. compulsory english

1. Introduction and Background

Questioning is the most important component of the education system. Teachers use questioning strategies to review, check on learning, probe thought processes, pose problems, seek out alternative solutions and challenge students to think critically and reflect on issues or values (Ellisl993). Owing to these factors, questioning techniques have been a major concern for researchers.

In an attempt to overcome shortcomings associated with the assessment of learning, Bloom (1956) devised taxonomy for educational objectives in order to measure different levels of learning. This system was created to improve the testing precision. It was just an attempt to categorize the cognitive working into distinct levels, so that appropriate questions are developed to assess the desired level (Bloom, 1956; Pear, 2002).

Bloom (1956) outlines six hierarchical domains of educational progress ranging from the simple to the highly complex: namely knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. These levels can help the educators in forming appropriate objectives and standardized assessments.

Azizi (2005) is of the view that creativity in the students cannot be achieved only by providing knowledge. According to Kim (1996) Bloom's Taxonomy has been found effective in improving students' cognitive skills. He notes that a mixture of questions from various levels of the taxonomy may result in most effective learning at higher levels. For these reasons, curriculum designers and educators have extensively used the taxonomic model of learning to analyze the cognitive levels of questions.

In spite of all the efforts and claims that educational assessments are evaluating higher-level thinking and are a mean of developing critical thinking, the researches revealed it is still a fact that approximately 80-90 percent of the questions that are used in assessment aimed at lower level cognitive levels. Afzal (2005) writes that exams in Pakistan in all disciplines focus only on one activity that is to measure the rote memorization

This study is significant in that it is the first study to investigate the cognitive levels of examination questions with reference to Blooms's Taxonomy at Graduate level in Pakistan. Therefore the knowledge may serve as baseline data or documentation for future reference by educators, examiners, researchers as well as policy makers. Furthermore this study has a potential to contribute to the existing body of knowledge on the cognitive level of examination questions. This consequently may benefit the society overall by offering graduates with higher order think skills. Furthermore the findings may assist the educators in improving the curriculum.

1) Which levels of Bloom's taxonomy are present in English language learning and teaching strategies currently in use in Pakistani educational institutes at graduate level?

2) Which levels of critical thinking are more prevalent in our paper setting at Graduate level? …

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