Teaching critical reading in Bhutanese middle secondary schools: an integrated approach

  • Ugyen Tshering

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The current Bhutanese middle secondary English curriculum recognises that critical reading (CR) is integral to student learning. It helps foster students’ critical thinking and promote Gross National Happiness, Bhutan’s development philosophy. The curriculum also highlights the need for teachers to adopt interactive and student-centred pedagogies. Despite English being the primary medium of instruction and studying it as one of the main school subjects, students’ English competencies are limited. Thus, teachers face considerable challenges in fulfilling the curricular goal with limited professional learning and development opportunities. Using a collective case study design, six teachers from three case schools were purposefully recruited in this study first to understand their initial approaches to teaching CR and the challenges they faced through semi-structured interviews. A thematic approach was employed to analyse the data. Secondly, the researcher proposed teaching CR using a critical reading framework (CRF) based on Freebody and Luke’s (1990) four resources model and principles of social constructivism (Vygotsky & Cole, 1978) that engage and empower readers as text decoders, text participants, text analysts and text users. Two teachers from each case school used the CRF to teach CR using literary texts from the English curriculum in grade 9 classrooms as part of an online CR intervention. The audio recordings of lesson interactions and the teachers’ written reflective reports on their lessons were analysed using thematic analysis. The study also analysed post-intervention interviews with the six teachers to understand their views on teaching CR based on the CRF and its challenges. The study showed that the teachers found the CRF effective and practical, allowing them to scaffold and enhance students’ language, literature and literacy knowledge and skills in an integrated manner, besides helping students use their critical thinking skills in the reading process. It also shows that the CRF has positive implications for teaching CR, adopting student-centred pedagogical approaches and providing avenues for teacher professional development in Bhutan and broader ESL contexts.
    Date of Award2023
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMaya Gunawardena (Supervisor) & Kate Wilson (Supervisor)

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