Using Fiction to Promote Students’ Critical Thinking

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia


The importance of Critical reading (CT) to support every individual’s success in academic, personal and social life has long been acknowledged. The accelerating advancement of technology makes the need for CT more crucial. However, due to various factors, CT development through the educational process has not been satisfactory. This article reviews current ideas and studies on the nature of CT, the nature of fiction and their role in developing CT. To get ideas about how to implement using fiction to promote CT, the article ends with the practical description of a step by step of using fiction to promote CT through an instructional model.

Keywords: critical thinking, fictions, EFL


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The notions of critical thinking were acknowledged about 2500 years ago when Socrates introduced the need for promoting human reasoning skills quality by developing the Socratic Method, the process of questioning which constitutes the early criteria of what we know today as Critical Thinking (CT). CT was in vacuum for 20 centuries until Descartes revived and implemented it in the 17th century (Rfaner, 2006). However, it begins to be a prominent component in educational programs by the mid of the 20th century after Dewey (1934) contended that the fundamental purpose of the education system should be learning to think which he referred to as “reflective thinking” and an “active, persistent, and careful consideration of a belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of grounds which support it” (p. 9).

Prompted by Dewey’s ideas, the high importance of CT for one’s academic success and social life keeps on being accentuated in western education (Facione, 2015; Moon, 2008). The need for CT was later strengthened by the accelerating advancement of technology which keeps on overloading people with information. Ease of accessing a wealth of information requires people to think critically so that they can discriminate factual from fake information; see logical connections between ideas; be open-mindedly view things from diverse perspectives; identify, construct and evaluate problems and get relevant information to solve them. The World Economic Forum even suggested that in the present economy of constant change and disruption, CT is a skill vital to surviving (Gray, 2016). The vital of CT has recently become ‘a buzz word’ among educators in the whole world.

Unfortunately, CT development among students is still unsatisfactory. Hirose (1992, p. 1), reported that many students today “lack the basic skills to function effectively when they enter the workforce. A common complaint is that entry-level employees lack the reasoning and critical thinking abilities needed to process and refine information”. This is clarified by Belkin’s (2017) report that large groups of seniors at about half of 200 U.S. colleges scored only at basic or below basic levels, and even at “high-profile colleges” over a third of seniors scored “below-basic skills.” In line with this, Berr’s (2016) survey of over 76,000 managers and executives revealed that 60% of new college graduates lack critical thinking skills.

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