An investigation into teachers' questions and tasks to develop reading comprehension: The application of the Cogaff Taxonomy in developing critical thinking in Malaysia.
journal contributionposted on 19.11.2015, 09:15 by Ghazali. Mustapha
Malaysian teachers are constantly seeking ways to improve their students' reading in English and thereby enhance the learning of their students. One method of doing this is to bring critical and creative thinking to the forefront of the curriculum. This has been emphasized by the Malaysian Ministry of Education via the KBSM syllabus in order to teach these skills by considering the use of programmes like Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives in classroom practice. This study demonstrates how the higher-order skills can be integrated into the secondary school reading curriculum. The main aim of the study is to investigate how teachers design Reading Comprehension Questions (RCQs) and Tasks (RCTs) in relation to the demands of higher-order thinking to produce students with critical minds. It focuses primarily on the use of the Cogaff Taxonomy (a cognitive-affective taxonomy, adapted from Bloom's and Krathwohl's) to formulate higher-order RCQs and RCTs as a means to develop critical and creative thinking. In a pilot study in Britain (with 40 Malaysian teachers) and in the main field study in Malaysia, 150 subjects (teachers and student teachers) yielded about 1000 RCQs and 1000 RCTs. In line with many research findings of question and task design, 91.2%f the RCQs and 83.6% of the RCTs produced during the pretest were of low-order (literal) types. Subjects attended a workshop emphasizing question and task designing with the Cogaff Taxonomy. Dramatically, during the posttest in the main study, 74.4% of the RCQs and 80.6% of the RCTs were transformed into higher-order inferential forms. These results demonstrate that the teachers can potentially change the cognitive (and affective) demands of the comprehension questions and tasks they design. In a smaller subsidiary study, units from two English textbooks used in Malaysia are analysed to determine the levels of their RCTs and RCQs. The textbooks use a much broader range than the teachers did in the pretest. Implications for the teaching of Reading Comprehension and training of teachers in Malaysia are discussed.