Implementation of techniques for developing critical thinking in pedagogical activity when teaching English at the university

UDC 378.147
Publication date: 28.05.2024
International Journal of Professional Science №5-1-2024

Implementation of techniques for developing critical thinking in pedagogical activity when teaching English at the university

Lashina Ekaterina N.
Senior Lecturer of the Department of Foreign Languages,
St. Petersburg State University of Industrial Technology and Design.
Higher School of Technology and Energy
Abstract: In modern pedagogical activity, there are several techniques for developing critical thinking in students that are successfully used in English classes at the university. This article discusses the main ones.
Keywords: critical thinking, pedagogical activity, methods and techniques, goals and objectives, motivation, personal development.

Today, when teaching English at the university, various techniques and methods are used that contribute not only to the acquisition and assimilation of new knowledge, but also to the development of students’ personalities, where the disclosure of their abilities becomes a priority. In addition to studying in class at the university, students should be able to independently obtain knowledge and then skillfully use it in everyday life. In this regard, the teacher uses innovative teaching methods. One of these innovations is the technology for developing critical thinking.

Critical thinking is the process of correlating external information with a person’s existing knowledge, making decisions about what can be accepted, what needs to be supplemented, and what to reject.

Critical thinking teaches you to act actively and helps you understand how to act in accordance with the information received [1].

Consequently, the goal of this technology is to develop students’ thinking skills, which are necessary not only in studies, but also in everyday life. The main idea is to create a learning atmosphere in which students, together with the teacher, actively work, consciously reflect on the learning process, monitor, confirm, refute or expand knowledge, new ideas, feelings, or opinions about the world around them [2].

In the technology of developing critical thinking, there are three main stages: challenge, comprehension, reflection [3].

At the challenge stage, students activate their existing knowledge on the issue being studied, motivation arises for further work, and goals and objectives for studying a new topic are determined. At this stage, you can use such techniques and methods as the “basket of ideas” and the “prediction tree”.

Basket of ideas. The goal is to challenge individual existing ideas on the topic being studied; ensuring the inclusion of each student in the educational process. Completion time: Stage 1 – 7-8 minutes. The student performs the work individually. Stage 2 – 2 minutes. Information is exchanged in pairs or groups. Students share known knowledge with each other (group work). Discuss the received entries in pairs (groups). Students identify matching ideas, the most original ideas, and develop a collective answer. Stage 3 – 2-4 minutes. “Putting ideas in the basket.” Each pair (group) takes turns naming one of the written expressions. The teacher records the remarks on the board. The main condition is not to repeat what has already been said by others. You can draw a basket icon on the board, in which everything that all students together know about the topic being studied will be collected. All information is briefly written down in the form of abstracts by the teacher in a “basket” of ideas (without comments), even if they are erroneous. You can “dump” facts, opinions, names, problems, concepts related to the topic of the lesson into the idea basket. Further, during the lesson, these facts or opinions, problems or concepts, scattered in the child’s mind, can be connected into logical chains. All errors are corrected further as new information is learned.

Tree of predictions. The goal is the formation of non-standard thinking, the ability to distinguish probable situations from those that can never happen. Stage 1 – the teacher invites students to make assumptions (predictions) on a topic (for example, on the material that is supposed to be studied in this lesson). Stage 2 – students voice ideas and assumptions. The teacher writes down all versions (correct and incorrect) on the board, asking the question: does everyone agree with these ideas? If conflicting opinions arise, alternative ideas are recorded on the board. On the board, students’ assumptions are visualized according to the diagram proposed on the left, where: the trunk of the tree is the topic, the branches are assumptions that are carried out in two main directions – “possible” and “probably” (the number of branches is not limited), the leaves are the justification for these assumptions, arguments in favor of one opinion or another. The prediction tree may look like a cluster. It is not necessary to use the classic version. Stage 3 – after studying a new topic, you need to return to the “prediction tree” and check whether the students’ assumptions were justified.

The comprehension stage includes direct work with new information, gradual progression from old to new knowledge. The student’s own position is being formed. Such methods and techniques are possible as: “insert” – marking using icons: “V”, “+”, “–”, “?” (placed on the right side of the margin during reading) and reading with stops.

Insert. The goal is self-activating system marking for effective reading and thinking: I – interactive, N – noting, S – system, E – effective, R – reading , T – thinking – “reflection”. The “Insert” technique is used at the “comprehension” stage. When working with text, this technique uses two stages: reading with notes and filling out the “Insert” table. Stage 1 – while reading the text, students make notes in the margins: “V” — already knew; “+” – new; “–” – thought differently; «?» – I don’t understand, I have questions. In this case, you can use several options for marks: 2 icons “+” and “V”, 3 icons “+”, “V”, “?” , or 4 icons “+”, “V”, “–”, “?”. Stage 2 – filling out the “Insert” table, the number of columns of which corresponds to the number of marking icons: “V” put “V” (yes) in the margins if what you read corresponds to what you know, or thought that you know. “+”: Place a “+” (plus) in the margin if what you are reading is new to you. “–”: Put a “–” (minus) in the margin if what you read contradicts what you already knew, or thought you knew. «?»: put «?» in the margin if what you read is not clear or if you would like more detailed information on the subject.

Reading with stops. Stops in the text are like curtains: on one side there is already known information, and on the other there is completely unknown information that can seriously affect the assessment of events. Recommendations for using the “Reading with Stops” technique: 1. The text must be narrative and contain a problem that does not lie on the surface, but is hidden inside. 2. When reading, it is important to find the optimal moment to stop. 3. After each stop, you need to ask questions of different levels. The last question to be asked is “What happens next and why?” Here, having become familiar with part of the text, students clarify their understanding of the material. The peculiarity of the technique is that the moment of clarifying one’s idea (the comprehension stage) is at the same time the stage of a challenge to get acquainted with the next fragment. 4. You can use colors when reading text. Answers to simple questions can be underlined in blue, and answers to advanced ones in red [4].

The third stage is reflection (reflection). At this stage, the final assimilation of new material and the formation of reasoned ideas about the object being studied (studied) occurs. The basis of reflection is students’ analysis of the effectiveness of their own mental operations [5]. Possible techniques and methods at this stage: question daisy or Bloom’s daisy and six thinking hats.

Chamomile of questions (Chamomile of Bloom). Six petals – six types of questions. 1. Simple questions. When answering them, you need to name some facts, remember, and reproduce some information. They are often formulated using traditional forms of control: tests, using dictations, etc. 2. Clarifying questions. They usually start with the words: “So, are you saying that…?”, “If I understand correctly, then…?”, “I could be wrong, but, in my opinion, you said about…?” . The purpose of these questions is to provide feedback to the person regarding what they just said. 3. Interpretive (explanatory) questions. They usually start with the word “Why?” In some situations (as discussed above) they may be perceived negatively — as forced to justify. In other cases, they are aimed at establishing cause-and-effect relationships. “Why do the leaves on trees turn yellow in the fall?” If the student knows the answer to this question, then it “turns” from an interpretative one into a simple one. Consequently, this type of question “works” when there is an element of independence in the answer. 4. Creative issues. When there is a particle “would” in the question, and in its formulation there are elements of convention, assumption, fantasy of forecast. “What would change in the world if people had not five fingers on each hand, but three?” “How do you think the plot of the film will develop after the advertising?” 5. Assessment questions. These questions are aimed at clarifying the criteria for evaluating certain events, phenomena, facts. “Why is something good and something bad?”, “How is one lesson different from another?” etc. 6. Practical questions. Experience using this strategy shows that students understand the meaning of all types of questions (that is, they can give their own examples) [6].

Six thinking hats. The “six thinking hats” technique is used for a comprehensive analysis of any phenomena, for conducting a lesson on summarizing experience (after studying a fairly large topic, etc.). Students are divided into six groups. Each group is assigned one of six hats. Each group is asked to present their experiences, impressions and thoughts based on the color of the hat. Reflection in the “six hats” can be carried out not only in a group, but also individually. This technique encourages students to make a varied, “multi-colored” assessment of what they have studied and experienced, which is one of the important characteristics of a critical thinker. An important task of the reflection phase is to determine directions for further development. White hat – we think in facts and figures. Without emotions, without subjective assessments. You can quote someone’s subjective point of view, but dispassionately, like a quote. Yellow hat – positive thinking. It is necessary to highlight the positive aspects of the phenomenon under consideration and argue why they are positive. It is necessary not only to say what exactly was good, useful, productive, constructive, but also to explain why. Black hat. The opposite of the yellow hat. It is necessary to determine what was difficult, unclear, problematic, negative, empty and explain why this happened. The point is not only to highlight contradictions and shortcomings, but also to analyze their causes. Red hat. This is an emotional hat. It is necessary to connect changes in one’s own emotional state with certain moments of the phenomenon under consideration. Which particular moment of a lesson (series of lessons) is this or that emotion associated with? Sometimes emotions help us more accurately determine the direction of search and analysis. Green hat. This is creative and critical thinking. Ask yourself questions: “How could this or that fact, method, etc. be applied in a new situation?”, “What could be done differently, why and how exactly?”, “How could this or that be improved?” aspect?» etc. This “hat” allows you to find new facets in the material being studied. Blue hat. This is a philosophical, generalizing hat. Those who think in the “blue” line try to generalize the statements of other “hats”, draw general conclusions, find generalizing parallels, etc. The group that chose the blue hat needs to divide the entire work time into two equal parts: in the first — walk around in other groups, listen to what they say, and in the second — return to your “blue” group and summarize the collected material. They have the last word. The value of this technology is that it teaches students to listen and hear, develops speech, provides the opportunity to communicate, activates mental activity, cognitive interest, motivates students to action, so everyone works. Fear goes away, the student’s responsibility for his answer increases, the teacher and students participate together in acquiring knowledge [7].

Students who think critically, are involved in an active process of systematic work, and think about their knowledge are able not only to successfully master educational material, but also to assert themselves and correctly understand themselves in the world around them.


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