Fostering critical thinking in English classrooms in a secondary school in Kenya

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Darcey Dachyshyn

Second Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Mweru Mwingi


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Critical thinking is an essential life skill required by most people in today’s complex world. Development of critical thinking is important in preparing students for post-secondary education as well as for competing economically in the global environment. A number of studies in developed countries have advanced some strategies for fostering critical thinking. However, few studies have been conducted in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Kenya, where this study was conducted, development of critical thinking is one of the objectives of teaching English in secondary schools. The purpose of this study was to explore how teachers of English in a secondary school foster critical thinking in their classes. The study was conducted in a public coeducational secondary school using a qualitative case study approach to gain insight into fostering critical thinking. The participants were two teachers of English and the students of two form four classes. Multiple methods of data collection were used, including document analysis, semi-structured interviews, and classroom observations. The findings of the study revealed that while teachers acknowledge the importance of critical thinking in learning, they do not have a clear understanding of what it is. They were also aware of the suggested pedagogical practices for fostering critical thinking. However, these theoretical perspectives did not reflect in their teaching, as some of the practices were not fully explored. The study also revealed some challenges that hinder the implementation of critical thinking, among which include - teachers superficial understanding of critical thinking, time constraints, students language abilities, and students' resistance. Pedagogical implications are also discussed, such as the need for teacher preparation to integrate critical pedagogy in all courses. In light of the findings. There is need for on-going professional learning especially at school levels to support 1cachers in promoting critical thinking in their English classrooms.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library