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Presentation on theme: "C RITICAL T HINKING AND B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION."— Presentation transcript:


2 B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION Step 1: Look at the words used in the question. Illustrate? Describe? Analyse? In pairs, match the words to their definitions. Ask yourself: How do I need to present my information?

3 B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION Step 2: Read the question and ask yourself: - How many parts to the question are there? - What do I need to address for each part? - What information is relevant? What isn’t?

4 B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION Example: Discuss the relationships between parents and children in Romeo and Juliet. How do Romeo and Juliet interact with their parents? Are they rebellious, in the modern sense? How do their parents feel about them? How many parts? Three Part 1: How do they interact with their parents? - Decide how they each interact with their parents - Give examples Part 2: Are they rebellious? - Yes/No? Use information from Part 1 to back up your claim - Relate this information to a “modern” sense of rebellion Part 3: How do their parents feel about them? - Make sure you are using evidence only related to the parents and children

5 B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION Step 3: Make sure you only include relevant information. Common mistakes: - Giving too much background. - Including “interesting” facts that don’t address the question. - Answering the wrong question.

6 B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION Romeo and Juliet: The feud between the families seems to be an ever-present concern for the characters. How does the feud drive the action of the play? How do the various characters manifest the feud? Relevant or irrelevant? - How the feud is introduced in the play? - A detailed synopsis of the plot. - Quotes from scenes showing conflict. - Biographical information about Shakespeare. - Elizabethan history.

7 B REAKING D OWN THE Q UESTION Tips for breaking down the question - Look for key words like “discuss” or “compare.” - Identify each part of the question. - Make an outline. - Be selective in your research. - Remember your audience (your peers and tutors). - Retrospective planning. - Put the question at the top of your essay.


9 What is critical thinking? “engage critically…” “critically evaluate…” “develop a critical analysis of…”

10 C RITICAL T HINKING Process of thinking, understanding and expressing an opinion. Fundamentally using your ability to reason. Active Learning. Approach ideas with scepticism and doubt over acceptance. Both positive and negative – NOT ‘slating match’

11 C RITICAL THINKING Always question whether ideas, arguments or findings are the whole picture and be open to finding that they are not (most commonly they are not!). Process of identifying, analysing and, where possible, solving problems systematically.

12 C RITICAL T HINKING Forming an argument. Not trying to insult other arguments! Evaluate ideas/opinions. Develop/organise ideas into a line of reasoning. Aim to persuade reader to see the validity of the point of view you present.

13 C RITICAL T HINKING “Good critical thinking includes recognising good arguments even when we disagree with them, and poor arguments even when these support our own point of view”. Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills p47 New York, Palgrave.

14 C RITICAL T HINKING S KILLS (1) Critical Reading. Ask questions before you read: What do I want to find? What do I think? Why?

15 C RITICAL T HINKING S KILLS (1) Critical Reading. Ask questions while you read: Are there limitations to this work? Are there any flaws in the evidence an author provides? Can you disprove this with other reading or theory? Form your opinion justified through reading!

16 C RITICAL T HINKING S KILLS (2) Evaluating Arguments. Do arguments make sense? Are they well supported? Are all points of view considered fairly, not just the authors! Have any arguments been avoided which disprove/ undermine the author’s argument/opinion?

17 C RITICAL T HINKING (2) Evaluating Arguments. Is there enough evidence to support the opinion? Is it biased? How? Is the sample representative? Is the evidence up-to-date and relevant?

18 C RITICAL T HINKING (2) Evaluating Arguments. Is the argument focussed on an emotional/personal appeal rather than using the force of reason? Is the author’s “voice” an unsubstantiated personal opinion rather than engagement with the argument?

19 C RITICAL T HINKING (2) Evaluating Arguments. Are all assumptions/statements true? Does the conclusion follow the premises of the argument? Does the argument have worthwhile implications? Is it dangerous or undesirable?

20 C RITICAL T HINKING (3) Critical Writing – clear argument, well structured. Argument: Statement on what you think about the question set. Heart of essay. Determines structure, evidence, reasoning, quotations, introduction and conclusion. Should be able to summaries in a single sentence or on a single post-it note.

21 C RITICAL T HINKING (3) Critical Writing. Develop a line of reasoning: Key themes. Illustrate/prove key themes – how? Evidence/examples/quotations. Show opinion – ideas set against one another.

22 C RITICAL T HINKING (3) Critical Writing. Develop counter arguments: Argument is stronger when you acknowledge other points of view and explain why you are not persuaded by them. Do not need equal coverage – identify them, it proves you know your subject. Can have weaknesses in your argument. Do not abandon this! Explore and acknowledge these weaknesses, and explain why the argument is still stronger than others.

23 S UMMARY Breaking Down the Question See what question words are used ( Analyse, describe etc.). What is this actually asking you to do? Make sure if there is more than one part to the question, you answer all parts of the question. Only include relevant arguments – be selective. Plan. Plan. Plan. Remember your audience – tutor/peers.

24 S UMMARY Critical Thinking Acknowledge multiple opinions, use to argue own POV. Technique to form own opinion and justify it. 3 stage process– Critical reading, evaluating arguments, critical writing. Both positive and negatives – be positive about good arguments, even if they are against your opinion. Only be negative if there are flaws or limitations.

25 U SEFUL W EBSITES Essay Terms Explained ng-resources/essay-terms ng-resources/essay-terms Critical Thinking Critical Analysis/ Develop Writing resources/Essays/sta-developessay.aspx#critical resources/Essays/sta-developessay.aspx#critical What is Critical Writing? ng-resources/critical-writing ng-resources/critical-writing Liverpool Hope University Mentor Resources rt/peeracademicwritingmentorservice/resources/ rt/peeracademicwritingmentorservice/resources/




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