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Developing Students’ Critical Thinking Skills in Writing at a Saudi Arabian Writing Centre

October 19, 2017
Developing students’ critical thinking skills in writing remains a challenging phenomenon across writing centres. Both within the writing centre pedagogy and the general academic writing theory, there are a few studies that investigate this aspect of language learning practice. Meanwhile, some of the studies attribute students’ inability to demonstrate critical thoughts in language learning to the lack of a high-level critical thinking skill (Alagozlu & Sarac, 2010; Borglin, 2012; Klimova, 2013), knowledge also remains little about the way(s) teachers implement critical thinking strategies in teaching writing (Atac, 2015; Golding, 2006), and how students transfer the skills into their academic writing courses. Over the two years of its establishment as a support centre for students’ academic writing, the writing centre at Royal Commission Yanbu Colleges and Institutes (RCYCI Writing Centre) has employed various measures to help students develop their academic writing skills. Using both naturalistic and participant observations as well as a follow-up interview, this study explores the manifestations of critical thinking strategies in tutors’ and tutees’ interaction as reflected in tutees’ writing in RCYCI Writing Centre. The results show that, though most tutors are aware of critical thinking as a strategy for teaching academic writing, majority of students remain unaware about it, and only a few instances of the practices of such strategy appear in tutoring sessions. It is recommended that the RCYCI Writing Centre should develop a practical model for implementing critical thinking strategy through frequently organizing workshops for tutors and tutees to further raise awareness about the use of the strategy and providing tutors with the instructional model to implement. This process should be adequately monitored and evaluated.