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Developing Academic Literacy

Edited By George M. Blue

Academic literacy has always been a key underlying theme in English for academic purposes and practitioners and researchers in the field have always had one eye on its development in students. In recent years it has moved into the foreground and become a central field of study in its own right and the focus of a considerable amount of programme development and research. This was reflected in the fact that a conference focusing on Developing Academic Literacy was held by BALEAP (British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes) in Southampton in the spring of 2003. This volume consists of papers selected from the themes of that conference. The papers reflect areas of interest in issues in academic literacy, criticality and evaluative language, academic literacy in the disciplines and the use of technology in developing academic literacy.

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Part 2 Criticality and Evaluative Language 71

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Part 2 Criticality and Evaluative Language Fiona Cotton Critical Thinking and Evaluative Language Use in Academic Writing: A Comparative Cross-Cultural Study Introduction Although critical thinking skills are a key item in the graduate attributes documentation from many Australian universities, feedback from aca- demics still indicates that there is a lack of critical voice in international student assignments. As we see the construction and development of the critical voice in international student writing as central to our work as EAP lecturers, how therefore do we help NNS students develop a more critical voice and respond to the content lecturers’ crit icisms? In order to find pedagogic solutions to this question, it is important to clarify what is understood by critical thinking, critical analysis and evaluation. However, study of multiple definitions from various sources reveals that, although characteristics may overlap, there are differences in emphasis in what is meant by critical thinking or eval uation in different disciplines. Discussion about multiple definitions of critical thinking has proved valuable as an introduction for international students to this important area, and carefully structured or scaffolded (Pallant 2000) activities to develop students’ critical thinking skills are also important in the development of what Richards (2000) refers to as higher order thinking. These activities may also be a valuable way to assist students to make the conceptual shift in culturally derived ways of thinking about academic study. They may also help students to understand the importance of critical evaluation and of the explicit expression of a...

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