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Critical thinking skills Sara Steinke

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1 Critical thinking skills Sara Steinke
GET AHEAD UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2012 Critical thinking skills Sara Steinke

2 Aims of the session To recognise the value of your everyday critical reasoning skills for academic studies To identify what is meant by analytical thinking at university To reflect on how you can translate your everyday critical reasoning skills into analytical thinking for your academic studies

3 Why consider everyday critical reasoning skills?
Adult learners process a diverse range of knowledge, experiences and skills that involve critical reasoning, involving family and work; these qualities are of great value for university studies Everyday decisions are rarely straightforward. Similarly, analytical thinking at university is ‘messy’, topics are not seen as ‘black or white’.

4 Think about the following
Job opportunities /promotion Desire to return to learning Financial concerns Time constraints Course subject Other reasons What factors were involved in your decision to study a particular course at Birkbeck?

5 What is critical thinking?
Persistence – consider an issue carefully, and more than once Evidence – evaluate the evidence put forward in support of the belief or viewpoint Implications – what conclusions would follow; are these suitable and rational; if not, should the belief or viewpoint be reconsidered? Cottrell, S. The Study Skills Handbook page 275

6 The importance of analytical thinking at university
Core of academic study Takes place across a variety of study skills – reading, note-taking, writing essays /reports, exams, revision, presentations Involves thinking analytically about yours and other peoples work/ideas Actively engage with these activities. You will be constantly updated your study skills.

7 What is analytical thinking?
Stand back from the information given Examine it in detail from many angles Check whether it is accurate Check each statement follows logically Look for possible flaws in the reasoning/evidence/conclusion Compare the same issue from point of view of theorists /writers Explain why different people arrive at different conclusions Argue why one opinion/result/conclusion is preferable to another Be on guard for devices that encourage the reader to take questionable statements at face value Check for hidden assumptions Check for attempts to lure the reader into agreement Cottrell, S. The Study Skills Handbook page 275

8 Think about the following
What is the main argument of the article? What are the reasons given to justify the argument? What evidence has been used? What do you know about the author? What audience is the author addressing? What sources has the author used? You have been asked to read an article in preparation for a lecture. What questions might you ask in order to undertake a critical reading of the article?

9 Definition of a ‘critical thinker’
Intellectually independent Distinguishes between theory, facts and opinions Recognises and resists manipulation Reads ‘between the lines’ Distinguishes between emotive and neutral vocabulary Sees connections between subjects

10 What is wrong with this piece of analytical writing?
Mount Pepe is going up – it’s going to take everything with it when it goes. And I mean everything – villages, farms, trees, the lot. It’s frightening to think of how powerful a volcano can be. Think of the damage they cause! Remember Pompeii and Mount Etna! Cottrell, S. The Study Skills Handbook page 209

11 What is right with this piece of analytical writing?
In order to assess whether it is necessary to evacuate the villages on Mount Pepe, three main factors need to be taken into consideration. The first, and most important, of these is the element of safety. According to seismic experts currently working on the volcano, there is likely to be a major eruption within the next ten years (Achebe 2007) According to Achebe, the eruption is likely to destroy villages over a radius of 120 miles (Achebe 2008, p.7). Cottrell, S. The Study Skills Handbook page 209

12 Create a critical thinking action plan
1. Write down the three most important critical thinking skills that you have learnt /thought about in this session? Why are they important to you? Identify which of your current knowledge, skills, qualities and experiences can be turned into analytical skills. How are you going to make this happen?

13 Recap of the session We have thought about your everyday critical reasoning skills We have started to consider how to turn your everyday critical reasoning skills into analytical thinking skills for your academic studies We have introduced what is meant analytical thinking at university

14 5 minute interactive tutorial supporting this Student
ahead-stay-ahead/skills/critical-thinking 5 minute interactive tutorial supporting this Student Orientation programme studyskills/course_timetable study skills workshops which deal with critical thinking skills – and other study skills – in greater detail studyskills/thinking/index.asp helpful information on critical thinking skills on the Skills4Study website Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook, 3rd Edition (London, Palgrave) chapter 12 ‘Critical analytical thinking’ pp Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills (London, Palgrave) mp3s.asp#Critical 12 minute audio file based on Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills book services/facilities/support/critical- thinking online resources on critical thinking skills available on the Birkbeck Library website

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