A Case Study of University Instructors’ Perceptions and Teaching Practices of Critical Thinking in China

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Cultivating students’ critical thinking abilities has become a national and an institutional priority in higher education in China. Although China has emphasized critical thinking in its educational policy and implementation for many years, Chines students were still often reported as lacking critical thinking competences. Research is needed to explore how that may transpire in the teaching and learning context in China. However, there is a scarcity of studies about instructors’ perceptions of critical thinking. Particularly, the voice of Chinese instructors is missing. To address this gap, this study explored instructors’ perceptions and teaching practices of critical thinking at one university in China. It drew from Thomas’ (1997, 2002) culturally appropriate pedagogy framework and adopted a qualitative case study methodology. 24 instructors and eight students from NU (WH), China, participated in the study. Data for the study were collected from multiple sources: semi-structured interviews with twenty-four instructors, one focus group with four instructors, and four class observations. Eight students were also interviewed to supplement the instructor interviews. Data were analyzed through open and thematical coding, within the framework of culturally appropriate pedagogy, from contextual, epistemological, personalistic, and process components. Findings revealed that instructors’ disciplinary affiliations were more likely to influence their perceptions of critical thinking. Findings showed that instructors’ interpretations of critical thinking demonstrated Chinese characteristics such as holistic, community-centered, and knowledge accumulation as a foundation for critical thinking. Findings also indicated that Chinese instructors adopted a combination of lecture-based teaching with student-centered pedagogies to foster students’ critical thinking. This study suggests that there is a need to consider sociocultural contexts in teaching critical thinking. Other implications for policies, curricula, and pedagogies for critical thinking are also discussed.
critical thinking, Chinese instructor, culturally appropriate, pedagogy reform
Liu, X. (2019). A Case Study of University Instructors’ Perceptions and Teaching Practices of Critical Thinking in China (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from https://prism.ucalgary.ca.