Critical thinking is generally valued as expected outcomes of university graduates although the concept of it is controversial. Students are required to display it in academic writing which is the default of university assessment. However, international students from “non-Western” backgrounds in particular, frequently experience difficulty in demonstrating critical expression in their written texts. The current study, in the light of interviews with four Indonesian master’s students, therefore, aims at investigating their perception of critical thinking, exposing some factors perceived to be influencing the application of critical thinking in academic writing, and exploring their development of critical thinking. The results of the analysis reveal that although they were raised and educated in different cultural and educational context, they have a sufficient understanding of the concept and passionately engage with critical thinking. The findings also show that despite the influence of culture and educational background on their writing style, the participant have ability to adequately adapt to a new discourse. The challenges they faced include a lack of evaluation and synthesis skills, structuring ideas, and grammatical problems. The study suggests the need for the university and tutors to evaluate their writing instructions to focus more on providing writing practices and review the custom of conventional form of essay to accommodate more a range of divers yet unique expression.


Critical Thinking, Academic Writing, Interview-Based Qualitative Approach, Thematic Analysis, Non-Western Students

Author Bio(s)

Millatul Islamiyah has an MEd in TESOL from University of Leeds, the UK. Currently, she is a lecturer at Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Ampel Surabaya. Her research interests include second language writing, task-based language teaching and teaching English for academic purposes.

Muchamad Sholakhuddin Al Fajri is currently a lecturer in English language and linguistics at Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia. His research interests include corpus linguistics, language and media, and English for specific purposes. He has published research articles in various journals including Discourse and Interaction, and Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: m-sholakhuddin-al-fajri@vokasi.unair.ac.id.

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