Teacher cognition of thinking skills in Chinese primary EFL classrooms
Date: 23 October 2017
University of Exeter
PhD in Education
Extensive attention is given to the significance of promoting thinking skills in education. However, very little research has attempted to explore EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher cognition of thinking skills, even it directly influences children’s thinking and learning. In recent years, promoting thinking skills has become ...
Extensive attention is given to the significance of promoting thinking skills in education. However, very little research has attempted to explore EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teacher cognition of thinking skills, even it directly influences children’s thinking and learning. In recent years, promoting thinking skills has become an educational goal in the Chinese English Curriculum (MOE, 2010). In order to bridge the gap between the desired outcome and current practice, this study aims to investigate Chinese EFL teachers’ conceptions and teaching beliefs about thinking skills, and to explore the opportunities for, and obstacles to, developing students’ thinking skills in primary EFL classrooms. Four EFL primary school teachers, with more than three years of teaching experience each, participated in this case study. Semi-structured interviews and video recordings were used to collect the qualitative data. The interview data were analysed using thematic content analysis. Teaching practices were video recorded and examined through a think-led methodological framework developed in this study. The analysis revealed a new concept - “English thinking”, as subject-specific thinking. The findings also showed that teachers’ conceptions of thinking skills were fragmented and that they felt unprepared to teach thinking skills, although they all had a positive attitude towards integrating thinking skills into their teaching. The conflicting beliefs around promoting thinking skills were influenced by teachers' previous language learning experiences and by the challenges they come across. Opportunities for promoting thinking skills are identified from teacher-students interaction, including the use of teacher questioning and feedback, collaborative learning, increase of wait time, authentic topics, and teaching creatively. Teachers’ insufficient knowledge of thinking skills and other contextual factors such as the exam-oriented education system constrained the successful implementation of thinking skills in class. Pedagogical suggestions are put forward for policy makers, teacher educators, and teachers. Implications for future research indicate a need to explore EFL teachers’ perceptions of thinking skills, and to develop a framework for the development of thinking skills in foreign language curricula.
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