Investigating Critical Thinking in ELT Textbooks: A Systematic Literature Review of Textbook Evaluation Studies

Thiri Soe


The pivotal role of critical thinking and its integration in English language education are synthesised through systematic literature reviews and meta-analysis studies in the areas of pedagogical interventions, teaching methods, and assessment methods. However, there is little evidence of systematic literature review on the integration of critical thinking into English language teaching materials such as textbooks. In this study, 41 empirical textbook evaluation studies published between 2010 and 2021 were reviewed from critical thinking perspective. The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of English textbook evaluations on critical thinking integration, to identify critical thinking frameworks applied, and to look for possible research gaps among the studies. An extensive literature search was conducted by applying Xiao and Watson’s (2017) eight-step systematic literature review method. From a collection of 41 empirical studies, this review focuses on such four aspects as applied critical thinking frameworks, findings, recommendations, and the language levels and content areas of the textbooks studied. The results revealed that (1) Bloom’s Taxonomy and Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy were most frequently applied critical thinking frameworks, (2) integration of higher-order thinking skills in textbooks was less common than lower-order thinking skills, (3) textbook assessment occurred primarily at the middle and high school levels more than at other levels, and (4) methodological considerations regarding the reliability and validity of the coding process in textbook content analysis received little attention. This study contributes a synthesised literature background of English textbook evaluation with recommendations for
methodological improvements in future studies.


systematic literature review; critical thinking; ELT textbook evaluation; higher order thinking skills; lower order thinking skills

References marked with an asterisk indicate studies included in the systematic literature review.

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Published : 2024-03-29

SoeT. (2024). Investigating Critical Thinking in ELT Textbooks: A Systematic Literature Review of Textbook Evaluation Studies. Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition, 10(1), 1-29.

Thiri Soe
Tohoku University  Japan

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