How to approach the question : should a critical thinking course be part of the ESL syllabus? Exploring possible associations between competencies in critical thinking and second language writing.


Bertrand, Lynda (Lynda Caroll)




Drawing on Juergen Habarmas's (1984) concepts of rational and communicative action, the teaching of critical thinking and problem-solving skills is suggested as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for making an accommodation between rational and moral viewpoints possible. This position may aid in countervailing excessive ideological influences of Left educational theorists (Critical Marxists, Postmodernists; critical thinking as class struggle) and Right educational theorists (critical thinking as technical problem-solving). It is suggested that rational and moral discursive skill training should be part of L1 and L2 curricula. However there is no conclusive evidence to support this evidence, nor are there methodologies with which to test a specific educational policy, topic, or practice as to beneficial and adverse affects. This thesis explores the feasibility of generating such evidence. A small exploratory study was conducted to find associations between informal logic competence and the writing ability of L2 students. Completed CAEL placement assays of 10 L2 students and 5 such assays written by a control group of LI English-speaking students were examined. The results suggest that such associations do exist, and that gander and ethnicity may have modifying influences on these relationships. It is concluded therefore, that mora extensive correlational research in this direction is justified, in preparation for a controlled intervention study, in which the affect of teaching informal logic on writing competence can be tasted and quantified.


Critical Thinking -- Study and teaching
Second Language Acquisition -- Research
English Language -- Rhetoric -- Study and teaching
Academic Writing -- Study and teaching




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Master of Arts: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 

Linguistics and Applied Langauge Studies

Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

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