Criticality for all: developing active reading skills in an international foundation programme for Arts and Social Sciences
Centre for English Language Education, School of Education, University of Nottingham, UK
With the increasing internationalisation of Higher Education, the place of criticality in the curriculum has become the subject of debate. Is it is a universal core principle or a western-imposed value? This paper first briefly investigates this issue and suggests how these views can be reconciled in the classroom. It then focuses on practical strategies we have adopted on our pre-undergraduate foundation course to foster critical reading skills for extended written assignments in the Arts and Social Sciences. It is argued that a major challenge young international students face when new to British HE is having to process reading lists in order to produce extended essays that require evaluation of information and arguments from academic sources. We have developed the use of student-prepared evaluation checklists to help them become more active and critical readers, and to use the conclusions they draw in their writing. Finally, it examines students’ work across time and considers some of the feedback they have given us. It is argued that giving students’ critical thinking tools not only helps them in a pragmatic sense, but also may help to foster a more inclusive notion of internationalisation.