Volume 6, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
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Previous research suggests that literary reading may involve critical thinking. This involvement may facilitate critical literary understanding (CLU), i.e. understanding the literary text in a reconstructive, de-automatized manner. However, little is known about the cognitive processes this involvement entails. This study aims: (1) to conceptualize CLU, by relating dual process theory to concepts from the domain of literary studies (foregrounding, defamiliarization); (2) to test CLU in an educational context. An instrument to measure CLU was designed. A prospective cohort study was conducted ( = 271, grades 10–12, pre-university education, ages 14–19) at a Dutch secondary school. CLU, critical thinking skills (CTS) and dispositions (CTD) were measured one month after the start of the academic year, CLU was measured again four months later. Results show that students improve in CLU. This improvement is mediated by CTD and moderated by CTS. These results suggest that critical thinking can be engaged in the literature classroom.


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