Blended Learning: Infusing thinking skills in the AFL curriculum

By Dalal Aboel Seoud
Submitted to Session P3818 (Out of the Box & On Line, 2014 Annual Meeting
Language Acquisition;
Blended Learning: Infusing thinking skills in the AFL curriculum
Blended learning is becoming an increasingly common practice across higher education these days. It is the teaching that integrates both face to face and on-line learning. In other words, it is a mixture between independent and collaborative learning. Moving from a face to face only approach to a blended one requires making additional transformation in delivering the curriculum. This transformation aims at promoting students’ interaction and engagement to be able to deal with asynchronous material. This means, having a pedagogical approach that addresses the diversity of students, since they will be responsible for a large part of their learning.
In this perspective, previous studies have called for the need for supporting students regarding the non-reliance on teacher, as well as the need for developing their critical thinking capacities (Torrisi-Steele & Drew 2013). Others have indicated the need for teaching students more metacognitive skills to make the best out of their learning (Lust, Vandewaetere, Ceulemans, Elen, and Clarebout 2011). Accordingly, the changes that have to take place in the curriculum should encompass factors that prepare students to think skillfully, to deal with cognitively complex problems encountered during the asynchronous part of blended learning.
This paper addresses how such changes could be reflected in an Arabic language blended learning curriculum. The aim here is to move students from being recipients of information, to becoming manipulators, discoverers, evaluators and creators with Arabic language. The change in curriculum focuses on infusing thinking skills by introducing “a thought-filled curriculum” (Costa, 2011). Such a curriculum combines teaching thinking skills as a major component of course content. A “thought-filled” curriculum seeks to enlarge students’ capacities to think creatively and critically and to be able to solve problems. It also focuses on “enhancing the ways students produce knowledge rather than how they merely reproduce it.” (Costa & Kallick 2011 p.16). In this paper, concentration is geared towards showing examples of curriculum where thinking skills are embedded into content knowledge to achieve changes to be reflected in students’ way of learning.