Kyoto JALT:

Teaching for Critical Thinking

Date: Sunday, December 10th, 2017 Time: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Speaker: Gretchen Clark (Ritsumeikan University); Sean Gay (Kwansei Gakuin University); James D. Dunn (Tokai University)

Pedagogy for Maximizing Critical Thinking in Spoken Production
Gretchen Clark, Ritsumeikan University
This workshop will explore the development of critical thinking (CT) skill within the spoken genre of small group discussions. The presenter will report on a pilot study in which four pedagogical techniques were used to help 15 upper-intermediate university learners (minimum aim of TOEFL 480/TOEIC 550) think critically during in-class discussions. These included: low stakes speaking activities to lower affective filter, language/content preparation, iterative practice tasks, and teacher-guided CT skill instruction. Specific examples of activities will be introduced and participants will be invited to evaluate their effectiveness and consider to what extent they help maximize how CT is demonstrated orally. At the end of the workshop, the presenter will describe her plans for extending the project during the 2018-19 academic year.

Gretchen Clark, MA TEFL/TESL, enjoys teaching communication, academic writing, and business English at Ritsumeikan University, Osaka Campus. Awarded the 2018 National JALT research grant, she plans to continue her research on CT and classroom discussions during the 2018-19 academic year.

Developing Critical Thinking through Timed Writing Activities: Defending the indefensible
Sean Gay, Kwansei Gakuin University
This presentation/workshop will examine the development of critical thinking (CT) skill through timed writing activities. In particular, this paper will examine the effectiveness of activities that challenge students to consider positions in opposition to their own. This presentation will begin with preliminary results from research on student CT development over a semester, utilizing this activity three to four times per semester. Then, the presentation will move to workshopping, beginning with the concept of cultural sensitivity in topic selection.

Participants will then be given a short period of time to experience the activity and discuss its efficacy and applicability to their own teaching environment.

Finally, the presenter will discuss ways in which the pedagogy could be adapted to suit a broader range of teaching environments.

Sean Gay is an Associate Lecturer of English at Kwansei Gakuin University in Sanda. He has a MS in TESOL and PhD in Health Services. His research interests include: disaster management, CLIL, identity in EFL, and critical thinking in EFL.

Vocabulary Activities for Critical Thinking and Social Awareness: A brain centric approach
James D. Dunn, Tokai University
This critical thinking for vocabulary learning workshop will explain vocabulary activities that encourage critical thinking skills development, help develop students' social competence through in-class communication, and promote the expansion of student social awareness skills. The methodology being shared encourages both depth and breadth of understanding by asking students to build semantic networks with thematic clustering. Students are then asked to share their understanding of a vocabulary term which leverages student construal to help promote broader a social awareness of others' life experiences and their resulting perception of the world. The attendees will have the opportunity to see a breakdown of, and participate in, the activities. Original prints for use in their own classroom will be shared by the presenter.

James Dunn is a Junior Associate Professor at Tokai University and the Coordinator of the JALT Critical Thinking SIG. His research interests are in Critical Thinking skills and their impact on brain functionality. His educational goal is to help students understand that they are capable of more than they might expect from themselves and to help them broaden their horizons with critical thinking and higher-order thinking skills training. He can be reached at for inquiries.

Organization: Kyoto Chapter of the Japan Association for Language Teaching (Kyoto JALT)

Cost: JALT Members: free
Non-members: 500 yen

Venue: Campus Plaza

Location: Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan


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