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GET AHEAD UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2014 Being a critical thinker Sara Steinke

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Presentation on theme: "GET AHEAD UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2014 Being a critical thinker Sara Steinke"— Presentation transcript:

1 GET AHEAD UNDERGRADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2014 Being a critical thinker Sara Steinke

2 Aims of the session To identify what is meant by critical thinking at university To identify the importance of critical thinking for academic study To reflect on how you can develop your critical thinking skills To introduce the link between critical thinking skills and academic reading and writing practices

3 Think about the following Critical thinkers can... 1.Summarise complex ideas 2.Evaluate arguments and evidence 3.Understand opposing positions 4.Draw reasonable conclusions 5.Predict logical consequences 6.Devise sensible alternatives 7.Solve complex problems 8.See connections between subjects 9.Distinguish between emotive and neutral vocabulary 10.Distinguish between theory, fact, opinion

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5 Importance of critical thinking at university (1) Occurs across all teaching/learning/research activities - cornerstone of academic study Involves thinking analytically about yours and other peoples work/ideas - adopting a critical distance Pushes the boundaries of knowledge forward - examines the grey area, rather than providing black or white, yes or no answers Transferable skill to the workplace

6 Importance of critical thinking at university (2) Not simply related to academic content; also involves the journey of discovery - a process Involves a variety of academic skills - reading, note-taking, essay/report writing, revision strategy, exam technique, presentations, organisational skills, time management Requires an active, independent and reflective approach to learning - C.R.E.A.M. approach to learning (Stella Cottrell)

7 How to develop your critical thinking skills Importance of your everyday critical reasoning skills Who, what, when, where, why and how Critical questions to ask Recognize Assumptions: Separate fact from opinion Evaluate Arguments: Impartially evaluate arguments and suspend judgement Draw Conclusions: Decide your course of action

8 Everyday critical reasoning skills Adult learners process a diverse range of knowledge, qualities, experiences and skills that use critical reasoning, involving family, friends and work; these qualities are of great value for university studies Everyday decisions are rarely straightforward; similarly, critical thinking at university is ‘messy’, topics are not seen as ‘black’ or ‘white’, answers are rarely ‘yes’ or ‘no’

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

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11 Think about the following You have been asked to read an article in preparation for a lecture. What questions might you ask in order to think critically about the article? 1.What is the main argument of the article? 2.What are the reasons given to justify the argument? 3.What evidence has been used? 4.What do you know about the author? 5.What audience is the author addressing? 6.What sources has the author used?

12 1.What is the main argument or thesis of the text? Look at the introduction or first two paragraphs and check the conclusion A well written piece should tell you the main argument, thesis or position These first paragraphs should also tell you the parameters or timeframe if relevant, and the interpretation and final conclusion of the author

13 2.What are the reasons given to justify the conclusion? Can you list them? Are they well presented? Is there a clear, logical line of reasoning? Are the reasons given supporting the final conclusion? Are you convinced? What is your conclusion? Has the writer included and considered dissenting views?

14 3.What evidence has been used? What facts or evidence is being presented? - statistics, expert authoritative opinion, quotes Are these valid, up-to-day, relevant to the case? Is the writer’s interpretation of these facts valid? Does the evidence support the argument? Is it an acceptable interpretation? What has been left out? -What points of view have not been considered? Why? Because they present opposing views?

15 4.What do you know about the author? What do you know about the author’s background? What are the author’s credentials or specialism? What are the author’s affiliations? Has the author written other books or articles? Does the author have a vested interest in the topic? Has the author a reputation for being provocative, controversial?

16 5.What audience is the author addressing? Is the article published in a serious journal read by other scholars? Is the author addressing a general well educated readership? Is the article’s intention to introduce a topic to people who are new to the subject? Is the author writing for a wider, cross- disciplinary readership?

17 6.What sources has the author used? Check the footnotes, references and bibliography Has the author used a wide range of sources? Are there unusual, unexpected or new sources? How narrow or wide a literature search did the author undertake? Has the author concentrated on a particular type of sources?

18 Importance of critical reading more at session on 28 August Can you:  select and use different reading strategies (e.g. skim, scan, in-depth)?  think about what you need to find out before you start reading (are you reading to verify facts, to understand a subject in general or to analyse a particular argument)?  critically evaluate reading?  deal with new vocabulary?

19 Importance of critical writing more at session on 1 September Can you:  express your ideas clearly in written form?  make an outline of what you are going to write?  write in clear sentences and paragraphs?  link your ideas in a logical order?  use correct grammar?  develop your own argument?  identify your audience and write in an appropriate register?

20 Recap of the session Do you know what is meant by critical thinking at university? Are you clear about why critical thinking is important for academic study? Have you identified ways to develop your critical thinking skills? Have you recognised the link between critical thinking skills and critical reading and writing practices?

21 Useful sources for critical thinking Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills (London, Palgrave) 12 minute audio file based on Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills helpful information on critical thinking skills on the Skills4Study Website ahead/skills/critical-thinking 5 minute interactive tutorials supporting this Student Orientation programme academic skills workshops dealing with critical thinking skills – and other academic skills - in greater detail

22 Next session Thursday 28 August, 6pm-7.30pm, room 421 Reading at undergraduate level –coping with large amounts of reading –increasing your understanding of the reading –reading strategies for academic purposes –note making for academic purposes


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