First Year ESL Students Developing Critical Thinking: Challenging the Stereotypes

Yongyan Li


Reporting a case study of two high-achieving Chinese students studying at a university in Hong Kong, this paper presents evidence that poses an anti-thesis to the stereotypes of first year university students as holding naïve beliefs about learning and of ‘Chinese learners’ as lacking in critical thinking. Many studies have examined Chinese students’ learning experiences within local educational contexts, yet we know very little what beliefs individual Chinese ESL students hold about learning and writing in an English-dominant university especially in their early stage of studying at such an institution, and how their beliefs are reflected in what they actually do in their writing. This paper aims to illuminate a connection between two high-achieving Chinese students’ beliefs about learning/writing in the university and what they did in a written assignment in an introductory course of political science, especially in terms of their use of authorship strategies as they wrote from sources. The data were collected through interviews and gathering the students’ notes, process logs, papers, source texts, as well as the relevant materials of the political science course. The study revealed that for both students the essence of university learning and writing consisted in independent and critical thinking, and writing with a clear view and sound logic; and they both imprinted authorship into their papers, by proposing revised theories on their selected topics and fitting sources into their own organizational frameworks.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Paper Submission E-mail:

Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

Copyright © Redfame Publishing Inc.

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders. 

If you have any questions, please contact: