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Home Journal Index 2023-1

Re-inventing Critical Thinking and Writing Tasks Using a CDL Approach

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Lee Kit Mun
Jodie Luu
National University of Singapore, Singapore

This paper discusses how we integrated critical thinking and academic literacy with disciplinary content in a communication skills module for Computing students. The module aims to develop students’ academic literacy, and at the same time, their ability to critically question issues related to their discipline or profession. Previously, for the writing task, each student had to write an argumentative essay on a topic and question that they wish to explore within a given theme. However, feedback from students and some faculty members suggested that such a task may have limited relevance to Computing students. When redesigning the course, we approached it from the perspective of critical digital literacy (CDL). This approach emphasizes the need to re-balance between a competency-based digital literacy approach built around hard IT skills such as coding, and a capacity-based digital literacy approach focused on “distinctively human capacities” (Bass, 2018, p. 37) such as creativity and critical thinking. We adopted the five-resources CDL pedagogical model proposed by Hinrichsen and Coombs (2013) and framed the different communication tasks within this model. Instead of academic essays, students were to apply all five CDL resources to write an online commentary in response to a digital text within the given theme. To determine whether students found value in this task and in this novel CDL approach, pre- and post-course surveys were conducted. The rationale and implementation of this redesigned writing task are described in this paper, followed by the survey findings and our reflections on the course redesign process.

Academic literacy, critical digital literacy, critical thinking, writing for Computing students