Welcome to Francis Academic Press

Frontiers in Educational Research, 2020, 3(9); doi: 10.25236/FER.2020.030911.

Cultivating and Assessing Critical Thinkers through Second Language Writing


Tong Chu

Corresponding Author:
Tong Chu

School of Foreign Language Education Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China


Cultivating and measuring critical thinking (CT) skills are an essential part in higher education. General assessment of CT skills existed for long but specific assessment of each dimension of CT skills is rare. The present study investigates one essential dimension of CT skills–inference and modified existent inference evaluation patterns to form an inference performance framework. This modified framework is applied in the experiment aiming to investigate the connection between inference abilities of the Chinese college students and their quality of argument in their English essays. 55 participants were assigned to write argumentative essays following the classical argumentation model. By modifying the CT Inference Performance framework, the study applies it in evaluating students’ CT ability in argumentative writing, revealing several patterns of inadequacies in the inference dimension of the students’ essays, exposing the need to bring more attention to the teaching of probability and form in the argumentative writing. Moreover, the study also indicates a significant connection between CT inference ability and quality of argument. On the basis of the above findings, inference-concentration teaching approach to improve quality of argument is recommended as a general guide for future classroom teaching, taking into account not only argumentative essay structure, content, and language, but also inference dimension of CT.


Critical thinking, Second language writing, Inference assessment, Quality of argument

Cite This Paper

Tong Chu. Cultivating and Assessing Critical Thinkers through Second Language Writing. Frontiers in Educational Research (2020) Vol. 3 Issue 9: 39-43. https://doi.org/10.25236/FER.2020.030911.


[1] Facione, P. A (1990). Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction[M]. Millbrae,CA: The California Academic Press.

[2] Paul, R.; Elder, L (2006): Critical Thinking: Learn the Tools the Best Thinkers Use[M]. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

[3] Stapleton, P (2001). Assessing critical thinking in the writing of Japanese university students: Insights about assumptions and content familiarity[J]. In 4, no.18, pp. 506-548.

[4] Stapleton, Paul; Wu, Yanming (2015): Assessing the quality of arguments in students' persuasive writing: A case study analyzing the relationship between surface structure and substance[J]. In Journal of English for Academic Purposes, no.17, pp. 12–23.

[5] Toulmin, S (1958). The uses of argument[M]. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[6] Toulmin, S (2003). The uses of argument[M]. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

[7] Wade, C. (1995). Using Writing to Develop and Assess Critical Thinking[J], no.22, pp. 24-28.

[8] Wen (2009). Developing a conceptual framework for assessing Chinese university students' critical thinking skills[J].Zarefsky, David (2005). Argumentation: Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning[J]. 2nd. Virginia: The Great Courses, pp.57