2 Objectives. To recognise the value of reading for a degree. To understand how to locate appropriate resources.To identify ways of getting the most out of reading
3 Reading for a degree. Extensive reading is essential to doing a degree Many purposesclarifying the content of your lecturesSeminar preparationAssignmentsto increase and add to your knowledge of key sociological concepts and perspectives.
4 Sourcing Material Books and Journals Internet Electronic journals Research papers and reportsOnline statistics (ONS)ALWAYS REFERENCE YOUR SOURCES METICULOUSLY!
5 ResourcesThe type of assignment or purpose of the seminar preparation will often determine how you read these resources and what type of resources you selectAn hour spent looking for resources that exactly match your needs might save you 3 hours of unnecessary reading.
6 How do I identify appropriate resources? 1 Seminar outlines and reading listsjournal article bibliographiesBook chapter bibliographiesIdentify other perspectives on same topic- eg feminist, marxist, functionalistUse resources as a gatewayFind resources that interest you
7 How do I identify appropriate resources? 2 Go directly to original worksUse basic textbooks as an additional resource or to provide an overview of the subject matter.Try and locate alternative perspectivesFormulate your own opinions and reflections
8 How do I read efficiently? Five stepsSQ and the 3 R's.Skimming,Questioning,Reading,RecallingReviewing.
9 SQ and the 3 R's.Skimming-skim read the material, look for key theories, concepts, hypotheses or perspectivesQuestioning-identify questions that you expect the reading material to answerReading, Recalling, Reviewing- Do the actual reading, recall what you have just read and review the article or chapter with reference to your own or other author's ideas
10 Critically Engaging With the Literature Reading for a degree involves continually analysing and questioning what you are reading.Question the author's assumptions and analyise the logic of the author's argument.Try to think of counter arguments or alternative ways of looking at the problem.Evaluate the reliability and validity of the evidence the author has usedalways question the author's findings or conclusions.
11 Managing Your Reading Load. examine the table of contentsidentify the relevant chapter or section of the bookexamine the introduction and conclusionAsk questions about the type of information you are looking for.Look for theory that supports and refutes the argument
12 Should I take notes while I am reading? Note taking and annotating a text will help you engage with the materialsummarise what you have read.Note critiques and details of original researchkeep a record of the page number of any direct quotations for referencing.take notes in your own wordsUse symbols and abbreviations
13 Exercise.Read your handout -Martin, G. (2000) ‘New-Age Travellers’ Sociology Review 9(4): 2-5.Try to identify key arguments and important information.What are the key concepts or theories that the author uses?What is the purpose of the article?How successfully does the author achieve his aims?Can you link the authors work to the work of other sociologists?make a brief summary of the main points in the article,add notes on your own critical reflectionsSwap your reading notes with a friend -try to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your partner’s notes.How do they differ from your own?Can you identify areas of good practice in your partner’s notes that may be of use to you?Did you miss an important point or did you over-emphasise a marginal point?
14 Being Creative. Being creative is different to being critical look for many possible answers rather than oneallow yourself to make wild and crazy suggestions as well as those that seem sensibleDon’t judge ideas early in the process - treat all ideas as if they may contain the seeds of something potentially usefulallow yourself to doodle, day-dream or play with a theory or suggestionbe aware that these approaches necessarily involve making lots of suggestions that are unworkable and may sound sillylearn from what has not worked as well as what did
15 creative thinking techniques Brainstorm ideas on one topic onto a large piece of paper:Allow yourself to play with an idea whilst you go for a walkDraw or paint a theory on paper.Ask the same question several times and give a different answer each time.Combine some of the features of two different objects or ideas to see if you can create several more.Change your routine. Do things a different way. Walk a different route to college.Let your mind be influenced by new stimuli such as music you do not usually listen to.Be open to ideas when they are still new: look for ways of making things work and pushing the idea to its limits.Ask questions such as 'what if….?' Or 'supposing….?'.
16 What is Critical Thinking? When you are thinking critically, you are not just thinking passively and accepting everything you see and hear. You are thinking actively. You are asking questions about what you see and hear, evaluating, categorising, and finding relationships.
17 How does critical thinking differ between disciplines? Different disciplines are characterised by particular approaches to critical thinking,Eg geologycategorise rocks and land formationsexplain how they evolvedpredict what can be found in similar circumstances.work out what are the typical ways of thinking in your disciplineTalk to the lecturerAsk questions
18 Thinking Around Your Discipline All disciplines will require you to ask questions, relate theory to practice, find and use appropriate evidence, evaluate, find links, and categorise.Science is often concerned with interpreting within a framework, describing, explaining, predicting, and identifying cause and effect.Management is often concerned with identifying problems and solutions, relating theories to practice, and making comparisons and contrasts.IT is often concerned with analysing complex situations into component parts.Literature, History, Sociology and Political Science are often concerned with making claims and supporting them, usually in the light of a particular framework of analysis (eg feminism, postmodernism etc).
19 How does critical thinking apply to academic reading? In reading academic texts you need to develop a personal (but nevertheless academic and rational) response to the article/ theory/ chapter through:develop an understanding of the contentevaluate and critique the articleread the introduction or abstract and skim read the text to give you a preliminary idea of what it is about
20 Some questions to help you read critically What are the main points of this text?Can you put them in your own words?What sorts of examples are used? Are they useful? Can you think of others?What factors (ideas, people, things) have been included? Can you think of anything that has been missed out?Is a particular bias or framework apparent? Can you tell what 'school of thought' the author belongs to?Can you work out the steps of the argument being presented? Do all the steps follow logically?Could a different conclusion be drawn from the argument being presented?Are the main ideas in the text supported by reliable evidence (well researched, non-emotive, logical)?Do you agree or disagree with the author? Why?What connections do you see between this and other texts?Where does it differ from other texts on the same subject?What are the wider implications—for you, for the discipline?
21 Some techniques to help you read critically When you take notes, divide your notepad into two columns. Jot down the main ideas in the left hand column, and the supporting comments in the right hand column. Add your own comments in another colour, or in brackets.Talk to other people (anyone who is interested!) about what you have read.Relate this text to others by looking for similar or contrasting themes.Think of how you might explain what the text means to, say, a high school student. What would you have to add to make it intelligible? (This will help you to see the underlying, unstated assumptions.)Ask yourself: 'Is it possible to disagree with any of this?'Ask yourself: 'How can I convince my peers/teachers that I understand what this is about?'
22 SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES INVOLVED IN CRITICAL THINKING Interpreting according to a frameworkRelating theory to practiceMaking a claim and supporting itUsing appropriate evidenceMaking links between ideasAsking questionsEvaluatingPredictingDescribingAnalysingSynthesisingCategorisingEstablishing cause and effectComparing and contrastingIdentifying problems and solutions
23 How does critical thinking apply to academic writing? Look at the sample assignment question below, and formulate some questions of your own that are relevant to the assignment topic.‘What is Sociology? Is it relevant today?’
24 ‘What is Sociology? Is it relevant today?’ What is the lecturer looking for?If you want to say something which is new or unusual, or which your lecturer may disagree with, make sure you have EXTRA evidence and support.Make sure everything you say is backed up by evidence and references.Link what you are saying into the overall field of the discipline.Think about why this essay topic is worth writing about—what makes it particularly significant.Look at both sides of an argument
25 How can I add quality to my writing? Be criticalcategorise the factors involved,evaluate cause-effect chains,make comparisons and contrasts,point out problems and suggest solutions, evaluate theories and relate them to practiceYour writing must also be rational, balanced, well-argued, and based on evidence and wide reading.
26 Writing Your Conclusion say why this topic is particularly importantmake a prediction about the future (based on what you have written)make an evaluation (make sure it is not too extreme and is well supported by the body of your text)suggest a solution to the problems you have describedrestate your central argument in convincing terms (make sure you have supported the argument rigorously through the body of your text).Even the best theory is flawed
27 combine analytical and creative thinking skills Focus on a subject in a logical, analytical way for some time, thinking through possible solutions.Day-dream or distract the mind, but hold the same problem lightly 'at the back of the mind'.answers often emerge in dreams or day dreams when the innovator is not trying so hard to find the answer.
28 SOME OF THE ACTIVITIES INVOLVED IN CRITICAL THINKING Interpreting according to a frameworkRelating theory to practiceMaking a claim and supporting itUsing appropriate evidenceMaking links between ideasAsking questionsEvaluatingPredictingDescribingAnalysingSynthesisingCategorisingEstablishing cause and effectComparing and contrastingIdentifying problems and solutions