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Currently, according to the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) Open Doors Report (2017), 50 percent of international students coming into the United States are from China (33%) and India (17%).
Many of these students, and others from nations with a non-Western educational schema, may be trained in a classroom atmosphere that can be more authority-focused and place less emphasis on critical thinking as practiced in a liberal arts setting (Aaron, 2016; Mc Cargar, 1993).
Although Barack Obama placed emphasis on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields in a 2014 speech (Jaschik, 2014), and Donald Trump has questioned funding for the arts and humanities (Nossel, 2017), the idea of the liberal arts mindset as a necessary companion to STEM and business majors is still very much in play (Dekat, 2017; Gaposchkin, 2015; Klebnikov, 2015).
At some point in their university careers, ESL students are very likely to encounter this thesis-oriented, liberal arts element of the American educational landscape, whether it be in their major, a general requirement, an elective, or an honors capstone project.
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American leaders like Thomas Jefferson (1816; as cited in Kaminski, 2005), Woodrow Wilson (1909), and Dwight D.
Eisenhower (1953) have extolled the virtues of a citizenry trained in discerning thought and have also pointed to education as a means of achieving that end (Kaminski, 2005).
Given that schema govern the interpretation of input, a gradual introduction of critical thinking methods to the ESL writer seems advisable (Mc Vee, Dunsmore, & Gavelek, 2005).
In order to bridge existing student schema to the US educational schema, for example, there must be a process of constructing, testing, and adjusting (Derry, 1996).