Promoting Higher-Level Thinking Skills in University Business and Human Resource Courses

  • Charles Jeremy SykesEmail author
  • Shao-Ming Wu
Part of the English Language Education book series (ELED, volume 8)


There is considerable debate in countries where the students speak the same native language about the effects of using English to teach academic subject matter. On the one hand, it is argued that by studying their subjects in English, students can improve their English vocabulary and communicative fluency and can, at the same time, become more competitive in the global marketplace. On the other hand, concerns are expressed that when they are required to teach their subject matter in English, lecturers may have to cut back on the amount of content that they can cover and that students have difficulty understanding the concepts as well as if they studied the subject in their own language, that students don’t learn as much, and that the challenge of both learning English and the subject matter can negatively affect student motivation.

This chapter explores the idea that the use of higher-order thinking skills in a course of instruction, as described in Bloom’s taxonomy, can have a positive effect on student motivation and that both lecturers and students will find that not only does the content of the course not have to be curtailed but that it is learned well and students also experience an improvement in their communicative English language skills even without direct instruction in English. The case study in this chapter examines two content courses offered in a prestigious Taiwanese university; these courses—one in compensation management and another in branding—have built higher-order thinking skills into their curricular design. Student responses to a questionnaire in each course were examined to determine the degree to which the students felt that their English competency improved, whether they felt they had learned more or less because the medium of instruction was English and whether they believed it was worth the effort to study subject area content using English as the medium of instruction. In student focus group interviews, students’ responses to the use of higher-order thinking skills were examined in each course, including the effect which higher-order thinking skills had on content learning and on improvements in communicative English. The result is largely affirmative. Recommended strategies for integrating higher-level thinking skills into learning environments are reviewed here, and ways to expand the repertoire of teaching strategies used by English-medium instruction (EMI) lecturers are suggested.


Thinking Skill Foreign Student Compensation Management Taiwanese Student Overseas Student 
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipeiTaiwan
  2. 2.ETS TOEIC CMD TaiwanChun Shin LimitedTaipeiTaiwan

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