elements of critical thinking and practice thinking skills regularly is important until they become ‘second nature’.
Comprehension itself has been seen as the critical thinking process. For instance, from a schema theory description of reading, comprehension can be conceptualized as a critical thinking act (Anderson & Pearson, 1984; Collins et al., 1980; Noriss & Phillips, 1987; Rumelhart, 1980; and Aloqail, 2005 d as cited in Aloqaili, 2011). Lewis (1991) argues that viewing reading as a critical thinking act becomes more tenable when some of the components of the reading process are accepted as automatic and necessary (automatic process like word identification derivation of meaning for most words, and assignment of importance), but not sufficient for constructing text understanding.
Norris and Philips (1987) explain that critical thinking provides a means of explaining the ability to work out ambiguous text by generating alternative interpretations, considering them in light of experience and world knowledge, suspending decision until further information is available, and accepting alternative explanations. They conclude that critical thinking is the process, which the reader uses to comprehend (Norris & Phillips, 1987). Critical thinking is not simply a set of tools that should displace other aspects of the curriculum; rather, it should be used to complement with basic textbook grammar and vocabulary. Students should equip the ability to question themselves about what they have read, to draw inferences, to analyze lines of reasoning, to apply logic, to weigh evidence, to evaluate authors’ ideas and perspectives, and relate different information to each other in order to read critically (Moore, 2003).
In general, it can be said that critical thinking plays a central role in instructional domain because it is what learners need to succeed both in an instructional environment and in real-life situations. Hence, it seems necessary to provide explicit training in the specific critical thinking skills which learners are expected to demonstrate proficiency in (Barjesteh, Gholami, &Vaseghi, 2012). According to various English language arts programs in U.S., many aspects of reading are pertinent important critical skills (Liaw, 2007). Hence, the integration of critical thinking and reading could be most effective to learners. To develop students’ critical reading ability is a major goal in reading instruction and teachers need to “present students with opportunities to analyze, synthesize and evaluate ideas through cooperative problem solving”(Flynn 1989, p. 664 as cited in Barjasteh et al., 2012).
A study of over 1100 college students shows the significant correlation between critical thinking and reading comprehension. Improvements in the one are paralleled by improvements in the other (Facione, 2011). Moreover, Kamali’s (2011) study revealed that learners’ critical thinking levels have significant effects on their reading comprehension ability when faced with unknown vocabulary items. The presence of such a strong effect may be due to the fact that critical thinking and reading are both cognitive abilities which have some identifiable cognitive skills in common (Kamali, 2011). According to Ryder and Graves (1994), these cognitive abilities involve “1. the ability of the learner to draw on background knowledge, 2. the ability of the learner to obtain or derive meaning from diverse sources of information, and 3. the ability of the learner to recognize or generate objectives that direct attention and regulate thinking” ( p. 211).
The experts consider some cognitive skills as core critical thinking skills. The more one achieves proficiency in these skills, the more worthy one is of being regarded as adept at critical thinking (Facione, 1990). The experts are not, however, saying that a person must be proficient at every skill to be perceived as having critical thinking ability. They include analysis, evaluation, self-regulation, explanation, interpretation, and inference. She noted that analysis overlaps with reading and listening (Facione, 1990).
By analysis someone can break up a whole into its parts, can examine in details so as to determine the nature of it, can look more deeply in to an issue of situation. All learning presupposes some analysis of what we are learning, if only by categorizing or labeling things in one way rather than another. Students should continually be asked to analyze their ideas, claims, experiences, interpretations, judgments, and theories and those they hear and read (Paul & Elder, 2001).
According to Hammadou (1991) as cited in Chou (2011), inference refers to a cognitive process used to construct meaning through a thinking process that involves reasoning beyond the text through generalization and explanation. Poor inference skill causes poor comprehension and not vice versa. Inference is at the centre of the reading curriculum. Inference skill is needed not just to be able to ‘read between the lines,’ to detect the unspoken hidden meanings that enrich overall understanding of a text or to draw one’s own personal conclusions about a text. It is needed for all the other tasks that teachers want their students to do in handling texts: to understand the effects achieved through choices in vocabulary, to recognize what the writer is trying to accomplish through the whole text and to appreciate what the impact on the reader may be (Kispal, 2008).
Ricketts and Rudd (2004) point out that a competent critical thinker using analysis would be good at identifying the relationship between statements, questions, concepts or description to express beliefs, judgments or reasons. They add that proficient students in the inference skill have the ability to draw reasonable conclusions and/ or hypotheses based on the facts and judgments.
1-2 Statement of the Problem
The main purpose of education is producing thoughtful people and the result of education must be the contemplative mind. Critical thinking is a controllable and purposeful judgment, which pays logical attention to proofs, fields, concepts, methods and criteria (Harkreder, 2000). The final product of the educational systems which do not pay attention to critical thinking is a noncreative person, and it is considered to be a serious problem in the material and spiritual development of the country (Hashemi et al., 2010).
According to Alizadeh and Khatib (2012) there are different models and methods for teaching critical thinking. They believe that one of the avenues through which learners’ critical thinking can be tapped is reading comprehension section in English classes (Alizadeh & Khatib, 2012). According to Kurland (2000) to non-critical readers, texts provide facts and readers gain knowledge by memorizing the statements within a text. Critical readers infer what the text, as a whole, means based on the earlier analysis. They look beyond the language to