You are on page 1of 16

Look out for the new Recycling System!!

Please help us to help the environment! In all areas you can now recycle: - Paper and Card - Plastics - Metals - Glass For more information visit: www.bradford.ac.uk/ecoversity

Please Respect Other Students and Keep Your Lecture Room Tidy!

CRITICAL THININKG AND ANALYSIS

Effective Learning Service

COMMON FORMS OF UNIVERSITY WRITING FOR ASSIGNMENTS In progressive order of challenge: Description Writing Summary Writing (what does the writer say? What is this idea about?) Compare/Contrast Writing Cause-Effect Writing (why & what issues) Critical Analysis

WHAT IS CRITICAL ANALYSIS?


To analyse: break information into elements or component parts To be critical (in an academic sense) is to make careful judgement about information and to evaluate its quality So, it is about your ability to be critical (evaluate) of information and to make your own judgements about it.

CRITICAL ANALYSIS TYPE QUESTIONS OFTEN SUGGESTED BY WORDS IN ASSIGNMENT TOPICS SUCH AS:

Discuss Analyse Justify Evaluate Criticize

OPINION
Go into any pub, club or bar to hear lots of opinions! An opinion is an idea or assertion for which there is no evidence always ask what evidence do they present to support their assertions?

Argument
Presenting reasons to support your position If other people accept those reasons, they are more likely to be persuaded to your point of view.

Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan

The structure of persuasion


Presenting an argument (with reference to credible sources) through a line of reasoning to arrive at a conclusion

E.g. confidence presentation

Argument: Reasons: 1. 2. 3. Conclusion:

E.g. confidence presentation Argument:


We spend too much time on issues of concern and not on factors we can influence.

Reasons: 1. Concern circles are big, influence circles are small. 2. Concern is lovely place to be can complain but dont
need to solve. So spend more (and more) time there .

3. And so, circle of influence diminishes Conclusion: Need to make better choices by
focussing on circles of influence.

Definition
Critical thinking is about evaluating the validity of any theory, model, idea or practice (TMIP) in the context in which it is to be applied.

Whats the authors position ? Why ? How does this bear on their argument ?

EVIDENCE
Assertions should always be supported by evidence. Four key questions: is the evidence presented:  reliable, e.g. supported by other research or commentators  sufficient: i.e. presents enough evidence to sufficiently prove something  relevant: e.g. relevant to current situation or circumstances  credible: is it believable?

YOUR JUDGEMENT ON THE EVIDENCE


Assignment questions are often presented in forms that present you with a particular premise (a proposition within a statement) Your task in such an assignment is to identify and evaluate the premise, which will lead you to: - agree (fully or partially) with it - disagree (fully or partially) with it - remain undecided (a risky strategy!)

Barriers to critical thinking


Students natural resistance to learning to think critically. Student: I want you (the expert) to give me answers to
questions; I want to know the right answer.

Teacher: I want you to become critical thinkers, which means

I want you to challenge experts answers and pursue you own answers through active questioning. This means lots of hard work. Cowell, B., Keeley, S., Shemberg, M. and Zinnbauer, M. (1995) Coping with Student Resistance to Critical Thinking; What the Psychotherapy Literature Can Tell Us. College Teaching 43 (4)

So whats their point ?


Identifying arguments

What is an argument ? What are its key features ?