Teaching Content Through Moodle to Facilitate Students’ Critical Thinking in Academic Reading

| September 3, 2014


Teaching Content Through Moodle to Facilitate Students’ Critical Thinking in Academic Reading

Keywords: academic reading, critical thinking, transnational education, virtual learn



Wang Yumin
Henan University, China


Fiona Henderson
Victoria University, Australia


Wang Yumin is a Lecturer in the International Education College at Henan University, China. She has been teaching EFL reading and writing skills to undergraduate students in the Australia-China program for about ten years. She holds an M. A. in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics from Sichuan University, China. Her research interests focus on second language learning, innovative teaching strategies, and cross-cultural communication.


Fiona Henderson is a Senior Lecturer in Academic Language and Learning & Coordinator Student Learning Unit at Victoria University, Australia. She was a co-researcher on the nationally funded Academic Literacy project: Investigating the efficacy of culturally specific academic literacy and academic honesty resources for Chinese students. She leads an annual Teaching and Learning conference with Chinese partner institutions in China with whom she undertakes collaborative research projects. Her current focus is a national Academic Integrity project: Working from the Centre supporting unit/course coordinators to implement academic integrity policies, resources and scholarship.



Critical thinking is essential in higher education and professionally. This project arose from concerns about a perceived lack of critical thinking development in Chinese students in a joint Australia-China Business diploma program taught in China in English. Using the Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (Chinese Version) as an exploratory tool, the majority of the joint program students scored between 280 and 350, indicating that they have both strengths and weaknesses in critical thinking. The core of the project was to integrate critical thinking into academic reading with the help of Virtual Learning instruments and develop structured teaching and learning activities in the English reading course to enable the Chinese students to learn to ask, analyze and evaluate their target materials and consequently build up their confidence to use these skills in daily learning and other fields. The study found that our content-based activities and online modules in academic reading have the potential to scaffold construction of an integrated development of students’ subject knowledge, language skills, critical thinking and overall learning ability. By the end of this project, participants’ perceptions of the reading course have changed; after a semester of reading and thinking activities, they no longer saw the reading course just as a means to learn grammar and accumulate vocabulary and knowledge. With the learning modules designed to promote students’ capability of critical thinking as well as language proficiency in academic reading, students also realized the importance of asking questions, learned how to make inquiries, and search for answers. 

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