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Problem Solving and Critical Thinking in ELT PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Problem Solving and Critical Thinking in ELT. Awad Al Sheikh, Rasha Dahman & Fida Abu Eid. Presentation outline. Why teaching Critical Thinking and Problem Solving is important Nature of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Characteristics of an effective Critical Thinker

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Problem Solving and Critical Thinking in ELT

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Problem Solving and Critical Thinkingin ELT

Awad Al Sheikh, Rasha Dahman & Fida Abu Eid

Presentation outline

  • Why teaching Critical Thinking and Problem Solving is important

  • Nature of Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

  • Characteristics of an effective Critical Thinker

  • Challenges to teaching Critical Thinking

In your group discuss what you think the following proverb means for you as a teacher 

If I hear it, I forget it.If I see it, I remember it .If I do it, I know it .

What is Critical Thinking?

The art of thinking about your thinking, while you’re thinking, so as to make your thinking more clear, precise, accurate, relevant, consistent, and fair; the art of constructive skepticism; the art of identifying and removing bias…and one-sidedness of thought; the art of self-directed, in-depth thinking…

(Paul, 1990)

Critical Thinking is :

1. “interpreting, analyzing or evaluating information, arguments or experiences with a set of reflective attitudes, skills, and abilities”

  • “reasonable reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to do and what to believe” OR “to guide our thoughts, beliefs and actions”

  • “examining the thinking of others to improve our own”

Elements of Critical Thinking

  • Observation: From a series of observations, we can come to establish:

  • Facts: From a series of facts, or an absence of facts, we make:

  • Inferences: Testing the validity of our inferences, we make :

  • Assumptions: From our assumptions, we form our…

  • Opinions: Taking our opinions, we use the principles of logic to develop:

  • Arguments: When we want to challenge the arguments of others, we employ:

  • Criticalanalysis


    Thinking about your students, which of the elements above are your students capable of ?

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking Skills

  • Knowledge – facts or bits of information

  • Comprehension – understanding whatinformation means

  • Application – finding a practical use for the knowledge

  • Analysis – breaking down the knowledge into component parts

  • Synthesis – connecting knowledge to other knowledge and devising something new

  • Evaluation – judging knowledge

Why is Critical Thinking important?

  • Critical thinking prepares students to educate themselves for the rest of their lives

  • Critical thinking skills are necessary for success in many fields

  • Critical thinkers are less likely to just go along with the crowd, and…

  • Passing the new Tawjihi !! 

Read the following story, and then do the activity at the end:

Napoleon Brown lives on the fourth floor of a block of flats. Every day he goes downstairs at 7:30, takes the bus from the end of the street at around 7:35 and arrives at his office at about 8 o'clock. When the weather is fine, he rushes into the lift and takes the lift to the fourth floor. He gets out and walks up to the fifth floor where his office is, and starts work at around 8:15. When the weather is bad, he takes the lift right up to the fifth floor. He works until 5 p.m.,then takes the lift down to the lobby and hurries to the bus stop to get his bus home. At home, he takes the lift up to his flat.

In your groups, do the following:

  • Read the story quickly (1 minute only!)

  • Write questions that start with the following words: what, when, where, how, why, how often, what do you think, could… on the papers provided

  • Swap your papers with another group

  • Answer their questions, on the back of their papers

  • Discuss the answers of the other groups together

How to teach Critical Thinking?

  • Use analogies

  • Promote interaction among students

  • Ask open-ended questions

  • Allow sufficient time for reflection

  • Teach students to apply knowledge to other domains

  • Use real-life problems

  • Allow thinking practice

Developing Creativity

Developing thinking skills through questioning

  • Why do I ask questions in teaching?

  • What about students asking questions?

  • Why are students’ questions important?

  • What types of questions are there?

  • What should we avoid in questioning?

  • Is there a simple way to develop questioning?

  • How can I follow up a question?

  • Why is waiting in questioning a good idea?

  • How does questioning develop language and thinking?

  • What are some alternatives to direct questioning?

How can these proverbs help our students to improve their critical thinking skills?

Problem Solving…

… is a mental process whereby an individual utilizes his/her previous knowledge and experience to respond to the requirements of an unfamiliar situation. The response should seek out the conflict or ambiguity of the situation.


What are the steps to solving problems?

The Steps to Problem Solving

1- Defining the problem

2- Gathering information

3- Studying and analyzing the collected


4- Suggesting solutions

5- Evaluating the suggested solutions

6- Solving the problem


You’ll be given a problem - try to apply these steps in order to solve it.

Challenges and Barriers to Teaching CT

  • Student fear

  • Impulsiveness

  • Overdependence on the teacher

  • Missing the meaning

  • Inflexibility

  • Lack of confidence

  • Dogmatic, assertive behavior

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Unwillingness to think

    (Raths, et al., 1986)

Teachers’ roles

  • change participation practices gradually: start with brief, focused activities, then later proceed to longer or more complex ones

  • model thoughtfulness, creativity & socio-cultural awareness in own behaviour; give examples of these

  • encourage active participation & relevant uses of English; recognize thoughtful & creative contributions


  • Share your revisions with the entire group

  • Questions and observations…

    Thank you for coming! 

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