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Developing Criticality in Practice Through Foreign Language Education


Stephanie Houghton and Etsuko Yamada

Many universities have adopted criticality as a general aim of higher education, in order to meet the demands of an increasingly globalised world. But what is criticality, and how does it develop in practice? This book explores the concept in detail and considers how it can be systematically developed in practical ways through foreign language education.
Taking a practice-first rather than a theory-first approach, the book presents two case studies based on action research in order to investigate criticality development through foreign language education. One study was conducted in beginner level Japanese language classes at a British university by a Japanese teacher-researcher, and the other was conducted in upper-intermediate English language classes at a Japanese university by a British teacher-researcher. The two studies illuminate the complex experiences of students and teachers as criticality starts to develop in both planned and unplanned ways, from beginner-level to more advanced levels of foreign language learning. The authors also suggest a range of practical teaching approaches which can be used to develop criticality through targeted instruction.


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Chapter 7 - Critical Evaluation and Self-Development 125


Chapter 7 Critical Evaluation and Self-Development 7.1 Evaluating self and other It was noted above that knowledge and cognitive processes are the two structural dimensions of Anderson and Krathwohl’s (2001) taxonomy of learning objectives, the latter of which includes remembering, understand- ing, applying, analysing, evaluating and creating, sequenced in that order. In this section, we will focus upon the evaluation stage defined in terms of making judgments based on criteria, the stage which precedes creation at which point discrete elements, having been analysed and evaluated, are reorganised into a new pattern or structure forming a new coherent or functional whole. As noted in the introduction, the very concept of evaluation is inte- grally connected with the concept of criticality. Etymologically derived from the Greek roots kriticos (meaning discerning judgment) and crite- rion (meaning standards) according to the Center for Critical Thinking (undated), critical thinking implies the development of discerning judg- ment based on standards. Distinguishable from the lay term criticism, often defined in terms of negative evaluation only, the term critical evaluation can be defined for pedagogical purposes in terms of consciously evaluating similarities and dif ferences between self and other, either positively or nega- tively, with conscious reference to a clear and explicit standard to generally promote self-monitoring, consciousness-raising and the development of meta-cognitive and meta-af fective awareness and control. Earlier we saw how student A7, having interviewed a foreigner about their values as a summer assignment, had first presented a descrip- tive account of the interviewee’s values before...

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