Promoting Critical Thinking Skill in the 21st Century: The Role of Saudi Female EFL Teachers in the Writing Classroom

Hayat Rasheed Alamri


The current quantitative and qualitative research study attempts to explore the role of Saudi female EFL teachers in promoting critical writing as a 21st century skill in classrooms. The sample size of the study is 145 (16.46 % of the entire population) female EFL teachers in government and private schools in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. For the purpose of the study, the researcher formulated a questionnaire that consisted of closed and one open-ended questions. The results show that 77.9% of the participants rated writing skills as “Difficult” for their students, and only 45 participants (31.0%) corrected students’ written materials “Every time”. Only 35 (24.1%) of the EFL teachers provided students with constructive feedback “Every time”. The results also demonstrate that the students of 68.28% of the participants relied heavily on their teachers’ correction and feedback, and counted on their teachers to provide analytical comments for their further improvement; 62.76% of participants used concept mapping in teaching critical writing skills. The majority of EFL teachers reported that students’ greatest obstacles to mastering critical writing are insufficient vocabulary, inability to express thoughts clearly, and inability to structure ideas logically. The results of the open-ended question show that Saudi female EFL teachers indicate full understanding of the importance of critical writing skills for their students, and as a result, they suggested wide variety of critical writing strategies. Some recommendations have been made based on the study results.


Role of EFL Teacher; 21st Century Skills; Critical Thinking; Critical Writing

Full Text:



Abbas, S. H., & Al-bakri, S. A. (2018). The effect of pair writing technique on Iraqi EFL university students’ writing performance and anxiety. Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling, 53(9), 23–37.

Ahmadi, M. R. (2018). The use of technology in English language learning: A literature review. International Journal of Research in English Education, 3(2), 115–125.

Ahmed, A., & Myhill, D. (2016). The impact of the socio-cultural context on L2 English writing of Egyptian university students. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 11, 117–129.

Ahmed, F. (2019). Errors of unity and coherence in Saudi Arabian EFL university students’ written paragraph: A case study of College of Science and Arts, Tanumah, King Khalid University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. European Journal of English Language Teaching, 4(3), 125–155.

Al-Ghamdi, M., & Al-Bargi, A. (2017). Exploring the application of flipped classrooms on EFL Saudi students’ speaking skill. International Journal of Linguistics, 9(4), 28–46.

Al-Jarrah, R. S., & Al-Ahmad, S. (2013). Writing instruction in Jordan: Past, present, and future trends. System, 41, 84–94.

Al-Naqbi, S. (2011). The use of mind mapping to develop writing skills in UAE schools. Education, Business and Society: Contemporary Middle Eastern Issues, 4(2), 120–133.

Al-Roomy, M. (2016). Developing students’ EFL writing skills by enhancing their oral interactions. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 5(5), 24–31.

Al-Thani, S. B. J., Abdelmoneim, A., Cherif, A., Moukarzel, D., & Daoud, K. (2016). Assessing general education learning outcomes at Qatar University. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 8(2), 159–176.

Al-Zubaidi, K. O. (2012). The academic writing of Arab postgraduate students: Discussing the main language issues. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 66, 46–52.

Alfahadi, A. M. (2016). The effectiveness of using smart board technology in teaching English as a foreign language to preparatory year students at Tabuk University. Education Journal, 4(6), 332–337.

Alidmat, A. O. H., & Ayassrah, M. A. (2017). Development of critical thinking skills through writing tasks: Challenges facing Maritime English students at Aqaba College, AlBalqa Applied University, Jordan. International Journal of Higher Education, 6(3), 82.

Almubark, A. A. (2016). Exploring the problems faced by the teachers in developing English writing skills for the students in Saudi Arabia. International Journal of English Language Teaching, 4(10), 10–23.

Alnofaie, H. (2013). A framework for implementing critical thinking as a language pedagogy in EFL preparatory programmes. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 10, 154–158.

Assaf, L. C., Ralfe, L., & Steinbach, B. (2016). South African teachers learning to become writers and writing teachers: A study of generative learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 56, 173–184.

Babayigit, O. (2019). Examining the effect of creative writing activities on reading, writing and language lesson attitudes of elementary school fourth grade students. European Journal of Educational Research, 8(1), 213–220.

Balderas, I. R., & Cuamatzi, P. M. G. (2018). Self and peer correction to improve college students’ writing skills. Profile: Issues in Teachers’ Professional Development, 20(2), 179–194.

Beers, S. (2011). 21st century skills: Preparing students for their future. Retrieved from

Bernstein, D., & Greenhoot, A. F. (2014). Team-designed improvement of writing and critical thinking in large undergraduate courses. Teaching and Learning Inquiry, 2(1), 39–61.

Bloom, B. S., Engelhart, M. D., Furst, E. J., Hill, W. H., & Krathwohl, D. R. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The cassification of educational goals, handbook 1_cognitive domain. Taxonomy of educational objectives. London: Longmans, Green & Co Ltd.

Burgess-Proctor, A., Cassano, G., Condron, D. J., Lyons, H. A., & Sanders, G. (2014). A collective effort to improve sociology students’ writing skills. Teaching Sociology, 42(2), 130–139.

Care, E., Kim, H., Vista, A., & Anderson, K. (2018). Education system alignment for 21st century skills: Focus on assessment. Center for Universal Education at The Brookings Institution., 41. Retrieved from

Carlyle, J. (2018). How essay writing can enhance your critical thinking skills. Retrieved from

Clark, I., Bamberg, B., Bowden, D., Edlund, J., Gerrard, L., Klein, S., … Williams, J. (2003). Concepts in composition: Theory and practice in teaching of writing. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Condon, W., & Kelly-Riley, D. (2004). Assessing and teaching what we value: The relationship between college-level writing and critical thinking abilities. Assessing Writing, 9(1), 56–75.

Cox, B. (2005). Writing. In S. Brindley (Ed.), Teaching English (pp. 151–159). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Crossman, J. M., & Kite, S. L. (2012). Facilitating improved writing among students through directed peer review. Active Learning in Higher Education, 13(3), 219–229.

Dumitrescu, C. I., Coman, M. L., & Nuţu, I. – C. (2015). Improving functional texts writing skills in English as a foreign language. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 203, 168–172.

Elachachi, H. H. (2015). Exploring cultural barriers in EFL Arab learners’ writing. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 199, 129–136.

Fareed, M., Ashraf, A., & Bilal, M. (2016). ESL learners’ writing skills: Problems, factors and suggestions. Journal of Education & Social Sciences, 4(2), 83–94.

Flower, L., & Hayes, J. R. (1981). A cognitive process theory of writing. College Composition and Communication, 32(4), 365–387.

Flynn, N., & Stainthorp, R. (2006). The learning and teaching of reading and writing. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Hashempour, Z., Rostampour, M., & Behjat, F. (2015). The effect of brainstorming as a pre-writing strategy on EFL advanced learners’ writing ability. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2(1), 86–99. Retrieved from

Hewitt, D. (2008). Understanding effective learning: Strategies for the classroom. Berkshire: McGraw-Hill House.

Hillocks, G. (2010). Teaching argument for critical thinking and writing: An introduction. English Journal, 99(6), 24–32.

Hosseinpour, N., Biria, R., & Rezvani, E. (2019). Promoting academic writing proficiency of Iranian EFL learners through blended learning. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 20(4), 99–116.

Hughes, J. (2014). Critical thinking in the language classroom. Recanati: ELI Publishing.

Javid, C. Z., & Umer, M. (2014). Saudi EFL learners’ writing problems: A move towards solution. In the Global Summit on Education GSE 2014 (E- ISBN 978-967-11768-5-6) 4-5 March 2014, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA. (pp. 164–180). Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA.

Leki, I. (2001). Material, educational, and ideological challenges of teaching EFL writing at the turn of the Century. International Journal of English Studies (IJES), 1(2), 197–209.

Mohammad, T., & Hazarika, Z. (2016). Difficulties of learning EFL in KSA: Writing skills in context. International Journal of English Linguistics, 6(3), 105.

Moss, J. (2002). Writing. In J. Davison & J. Dowson (Eds.), Learning to teach English in the secondary school: A companion to school experience (pp. 123–144). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis.

Motallebzadeh, K., Ahmadi, F., & Hosseinnia, M. (2018). Relationship between 21st century skills, speaking and writing skills: A structural equation modelling approach. International Journal of Instruction, 11(3), 265–276.

Nejmaoui, N. (2018). Improving EFL learners’ critical thinking skills in argumentative writing. English Language Teaching, 12(1), 98.

Reay, A. (2018). The importance of critical thinking in writing and how to apply it? Retrieved from

Rezaei, M., & Jafari, M. (2014). Investigating the levels, types, and causes of writing anxiety among Iranian EFL students: A mixed method design. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 98, 1545–1554.

Richards, J. C., & Schmidt, R. (2010). Longman dictionary of language teaching and applied linguistics. England: Routledge.

Roulston, K., Teitelbaum, D., Chang, B., & Butchart, R. (2016). Strategies for developing a writing community for doctoral students. International Journal for Researcher Development, 7(2), 198–210.

Schafersman, S. D. (1991). An introduction to critical thinking. Retrieved from

Sellars, M., Fakirmohammad, R., Bui, L., Fishetti, J., Niyozov, S., Reynolds, R., … Ali, N. (2018). Conversations on critical thinking: Can critical thinking find its way forward as the skill set and mindset of the century? Education Sciences, 8(4), 1–29.

Şenel, E. (2018). The integration of creative writing into academic writing skills in EFL classes. International Journal of Languages’ Education, 6(2), 115–120.

Sharif, A. M., & Zainuddin, S. Z. (2017). Students’ perceptions of their reflective essay writing experience and teacher feedback comments. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 6(2), 204–212.

Tosuncuoglu, I. (2018). Place of critical thinking in EFL. International Journal of Higher Education, 7(4), 26–32.

Yoshimura, F. (2009). Effects of connecting reading and writing and a checklist to guide the reading process on EFL learners’ learning about English writing. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 1(1), 1871–1883.

Young, P. (2006). Writing and presenting in English: The rosetta stone of science. Elsevier, Kidlington, Oxford.

Yusri, -. (2018). The effects of problem solving, project-based learning, linguistic intelligence and critical thinking on the students’ report writing. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 9(6), 21.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research