A Systematic Approach to Teaching Critical Thinking through Debate

by David Rear
Shibaura Institute of Technology, Japan

The development of critical thinking (CT) skills has become a key goal for educators in first and second language contexts. Teachers in EFL contexts, however, are often constrained by the linguistic skills of their students. This paper outlines a systematic approach towards developing the critical thinking skills of students with relatively low linguistic abilities. It will report on a program designed by the author at a university in Japan, which used a taxonomy of skills drawn up by Facione (1990) to create a course based around debates of social issues. It took students through a six-stage process, showing them how to clarify the nature of a problem, gather and organize appropriate data, evaluate the worth of that data, analyze the data to draw conclusions, express those conclusions clearly in the form of a debate, and finally appraise their performance for future improvement.

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