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An Investigation of Teachers’ Questions and Tasks to Develop Reading Comprehension

The Application of the Cogaff Taxonomy in Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Malaysia

Ghazali Mustapha

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Teachers are constantly seeking ways to improve their teaching and thereby enhance the learning of their students. One method of doing this is to bring critical and creative thinking skills to the forefront of the curriculum. This has been emphasized by the Malaysian Ministry of Education via the KBSM syllabus in order to teach critical and creative thinking by considering the use of programs 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 reading comprehension tasks (RCTs) in relation to the demands of higher-order thinking to produce students with critical minds. It focuses primarily on the use of COGAFF taxonomy (a cognitive-affective taxonomy adapted from Bloom’s and Krathwohl’s) to formulate higher-order reading questions and tasks as a means to develop critical and creative thinking skills. In a pilot study in Britain (with forty Malaysian teachers) and in the main field study in Malaysia, 150 subjects (teachers and student teachers) have yielded about one thousand RCQs and one thousand RCTs. In line with many research findings of question and task design, 91.2% of the RCQs and 83.6% of RCTs produced during the pretest were of low-order types. Subjects attended a workshop emphasizing question and task designing using the COGAFF taxonomy. Dramatically, during the posttest, 74.4% of the RCQs and 80.6% of the RCTs were transformed into higher-order inferential forms. The other major thrust of the study is to demonstrate how higher-order questions can be used to design equally higher-order tasks that can be utilized as a thinking skills approach in the teaching of reading comprehension lessons in secondary schools. Thinking tools and strategies as suggested by Beyer, Guilford, Gardner, and several others and their implications for the teaching of reading comprehension and training of teachers in Malaysia are also discussed.

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cogaff taxonomy, reading comprehension, education