Volume 7-1 February 2011.
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Research Articles’ Critical Reading: Developing an Effective Approach in an EFL Context
Hamid Ashraf (Ph.D.)
Islamic Azad University,
Torbat-e Heydarieh Branch, Iran
Hamid Ashraf, Ph.D. in ELT from University of Pune (India), has been a member of faculty at English Department, Islamic Azad University, Torbat-e Heydarieh, Iran since 1996. He has worked on language learning skills, testing, critical thinking, language learners’ characteristics, and e-learning through doing research, presenting papers in national and international conferences and authoring a book.
English as a Foreign Language can be an appropriate context for promoting critical thinking skills applicable to research articles. Current literature indicates the lack of a comprehensive investigation on promoting the abilities of critical reading of research articles in the field of English as a Foreign Language. This study aimed at investigating an effective approach to reading the articles critically for the English major Iranian students at post-secondary level.
The present experimental study started with a survey of some Iranian EFL university teachers to collect information regarding the status of critical thinking and reading. Then, to measure the existing status of critical reading abilities in detail, an instrument (Strategy Inventory of Critical Reading for Articles) was devised. The validity and reliability of this questionnaire was accounted for before its administration as a pre-test. The participants of the study were 175 senior EFL students from seven classes in three major Iranian universities. After completing the questionnaire, they went through critical reading strategy training to read articles for one semester. They were introduced a series of strategies devised by the researcher. The same questionnaire was administered to the participants of the study as a post-test which was followed by a survey of participants’ opinions regarding the treatment they went through.
The analysis of the data from Pre-and Post-test Questionnaires done through SPSS indicated the existence of significant improvement of critical reading abilities of the participants which can be due to the treatment they received. Also, most of the participants expressed positive changes they felt in their thinking process, understanding and criticizing research articles. It is concluded that the experiment including the introduction and practice of critical reading instructions for articles proved to be useful for these MA and BA participants. It seems that the approach utilized in this study has the potential to promote critical reading abilities of these participants to read the articles in EFL context. Furthermore, the ‘Strategy Inventory of Critical Reading for Articles’ might be used to test critical reading abilities of other students in the same field and also in the other disciplines especially in Social Sciences and Humanities.
Keywords: Critical Thinking, Critical Reading, Research Articles, Language Education