Capstone/Dissertation Title

Critical Thinking among High-Beginning English Language Learners through Peer Reviews

Term

Fall 12-14-2015

Capstone

Thesis

Degree Name

MAESL

Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Andreas Schramm

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Allison McMurtrey

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Anthony Zak

Abstract

The first research question in this study addressed how effectively high-beginning English-language learners (ELLs) can analyze and evaluate their peers’ paragraphs in terms of clarity, topic development, coherence, and organization. The second addressed whether high-beginning East Asian ELLs are less effective analyzers and evaluators compared to their peers from other regions. Key influence for this project was the need for critical thinking activities at lower levels of an intensive English program (IEP) and a lack of literature on critical thinking activities used with these levels. The author was also influenced by the ongoing debate regarding the critical thinking abilities of East Asian ELLs. The study documents the author’s creation of a peer review activity used by students to evaluate their peers’ paragraphs in five sections of a Level 2 reading and writing course at a university’s IEP. The results show that these ELLs can effectively analyze and evaluate their peers’ paragraphs, and East Asian ELLs appear to be just as effective at doing so as their peers from other regions.

Research Methodology

Curriculum Development

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