Perception and knowledge of critical thinking: A qualitative research study with Professors of Higher Education in Oman

Maha Abasaid, Marco Paulo Ferreira


Critical thinking is a key feature of the organizational cultures of higher education institutions, given its multiple impacts on graduates’ academic, professional and personal levels. Thus, most of these higher education institutions in the Arab Gulf region state in their strategic plans, implicitly and explicitly, objectives related to enhancing students’ critical thinking skills. Despite the apparent prevalence of such objectives, the concept of critical thinking (CT) is hardly taught in higher education institutions in the Arab Gulf region for different reasons. One of these reasons is that the perception of the concept is still in its infancy in the region, even among professors. This study aims to investigate how the perceptions and knowledge of critical thinking of English as a Second Language professors in the General Foundation Program at the College, a higher education institution in Muscat, foster critical thinking teaching. This is a qualitative and exploratory study with 10 professors and the data were collected through semi-structured interviews. The thematic analysis identified 4 themes: 1. First encounter with CT; 2. Connotations and denotations of CT; 3. Attainability of CT; 4. Scarce teaching of CT. The participants revealed their belief in the attainability of critical thinking. However, they expressed difficulties in implementing critical thinking teaching in their classrooms. The General Foundation Program’s professors referred openly to the disparity between their espoused beliefs and enacted practices.

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