Perceptions of the use of questioning to enhance critical thinking skills in English first additional language classrooms at FET colleges : a quantitative study
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Students on all levels of education need to be able to think critically. This study investigated to what extent and how do lecturers at FET colleges in the Fezile Dabi District enhance their students‟ critical thinking skills by means of questioning in EFAL classrooms. A literature study was conducted in order to highlight the importance of critical thinking and which questioning types, strategies/techniques and tactics should be used for the effective enhancement of critical thinking skills in the classroom. The classroom environment, factors that hamper the enhancing of critical thinking skills, reasons for the use of questioning, the different questioning types, strategies/techniques and tactics and the importance of questioning in the English First Additional Language classrooms were explored. The literature review provided the conceptual framework for the study, as well as the framework for designing a questionnaire and the observation schedule to obtain the perceptions of lecturers and students regarding the enhancing of students‟ critical thinking skills. Quantitative, non-experimental descriptive survey and observation research by means of a self-constructed Likert-scale questionnaire, and observations by means of structured event sampling was conducted with a convenient sample of a purposively selected group of NQF Level 2 (Grade 10) lecturers (n = 4) and students (n = 142) at FET colleges in the Fezile Dabi District of the Free State Department of Education. The triangulation of student and lecturer data revealed differences and similarities in opinions relating to how lecturers make use of different questioning types, strategies/techniques and tactics in order to enhance students‟ critical thinking skills. The data revealed that to some extent, two of the four lecturers effectively enhance their students‟ critical thinking skills through their constant use of questions that develop higher order thinking. The responses did however not convincingly indicate to the researcher that the enhancing of critical thinking skills takes place frequently through the effective use of different questioning types, strategies/techniques and tactics. This study is concluded with recommendations to lecturers on how to enhance students‟ critical thinking skills through questioning.
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