Dr. Chris McMillan â€“ Academic Skills Adviser firstname.lastname@example.org
To understand the purpose and value of critical thinking
To consider how to translate these principles into an argument
To understand how to structure and plan the defence of an argument
To be able to translate this argument into writing
Moving from remembering, recording and describing information to analysing, evaluating and synthesising knowledge
Analysing and Evaluating
Critical thinking is a questioning attitude, rather than a set of skills
Independent and active learning is essential at university
◦ The ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise is vital to producing high quality academic work
Reasoning and analysis skills are highly valued by employers
◦ Need to be able to think for yourself and make independent judgements
Universities have a vital role in democratic societies
Having a critical identity makes you a more interesting person!
Critical thinking is vital at university and requires specific skills ◦ Active and critical reading ◦ Analysing and evaluating research ◦ Developing our own arguments and defending them with reasoning and evidence
Key Tip #1 Critical thinking is the key to excelling at university
Are you critical?
Write for one minute on whether you are a critical thinker in your life and at university. Is it something you find difficult, or does it come naturally?
Problems and issues
â€Śgetting involved in the academic debate
Research is the key to developing an argument
Establish the issue you are responding to
Understand the parameters and key figures in current debates
Critically analyse and evaluate these positions
Find your critical intervention
Critical analysis & evaluation
What is the central argument?
What are the main supporting reasons?
What evidence has been provided?
Is this evidence valid and reliable?
Upon what ideological framework(s) is the research founded?
What is the main argument?
What are the supporting reasons?
What evidence is used to justify the premises?
Are you convinced?
Critical thinking is an attitude and a process rather than a set of skills
Academically, critical thinking begins with the initial processing of materials through listening, reading and notemaking
The product of our thought processes is critique and arguments
We represent that thought in written arguments
We need to express our opinions
Opinions differ from arguments
An academic argument is an informed and authoritative opinion backed by evidence and reasoning
This position is expressed as a thesis statement
Your position is expressed at the beginning of your work: the thesis statement
The remainder of the assignment is spent defending this position
Thesis statements contain your justified response to the assignment question
Thesis statements contain a claim, a justification and are often supplemented by a qualifying statement.
Hook the reader and tell them what they need to know
Context Tell them what you will write about
Tell them what you will be arguing
Critically evaluate the impact of fee increases on student satisfaction in higher education Thesis: As fees rise, studentsâ€™ satisfaction is likely to decrease as they demand stronger services from universities that have not been provided with extra funding to offer that support. Conversely, there may be other ways, such as an increased focus on teaching standards, to maintain satisfaction levels without extra funding.
What is the Issue?
Identify your response
What are the main elements of this position? ◦ What evidence do you have for these claims?
Where does conflicting evidence fit into your argument?
Key Tip #2 Know what you are arguing!
It is vital to organise the defence of your critical intervention
This defence can be organised into an writing plan
Primary position Alternative Position
Weave your argument together by using sources to ‘interview’ each other
Research provides the characters in the story you are telling
Make sure that you ask the questions and direct the debate
The manner in which you arrange, reconstruct and critique positions defines your argument
What do you think, Smith?
Do you think Smithâ€™s research methods are valid, Jones?
Williams, do these methods work across different contexts?
Counter arguments conflict with your main position
Explain why you are not persuaded, remembering to include evidence and rhetoric
Mix-up descriptive and critical writing: describe a position and link it together with the next using an argumentative verb
Valuable points should be acknowledged in order to create a synthesis
◦ You must respond to these positions to strengthen your argument and provide evidence of critical analysis
Although universities have a responsibility to produce employable graduates, their main function remains the production of critical thought.
Consider the thesis statement on the following slide
Try to develop an argument plan
What is the main point you wish to make?
What is the main opposing point?
Can you establish a synthesis?
Key Tip #3 Plan your argument
We need to drive the reader around our argument
To do this, links between ideas need to be established
These links can be developed within paragraphs through signposts
Alternatively, links are established at the beginning and end of paragraphs
Adding on vs. Developing ‘Also…’ ‘Another study that…’ ‘Another example of…’ as opposed to… ‘This evidence suggests…’ ‘These examples indicate…’ ‘Similarly…’ ‘Though these studies are…’
Drive your reader around Globalisationâ€Ś
Statement/Topic sentence Evidence or Examples
Explanations and Reasoning
Evaluation/Transition: So what?
Statement/Topic sentence Evidence or Examples
Explanations and Reasoning Evaluation/Transition
S E E
In the tea industry, which relies heavily on reputation and taste over trend, the benefits of direct and organic marketing far outweigh the more traditional elements of the marketing mix. Direct marketing can provide a more personal service (Fill, 2005), whilst organic marketing can provide a sense of community and allows contact and the transferring of knowledge with customers (Ghambari, 2008). In considering community in marketing strategy, Booms and Bitner (1981) suggest an extended marketing mix including people as a key element. This emphasises the impact of culture on the success of the tea industry, and in turn allows for the inclusion of cultural practices in marketing strategy development. These cultural practices, however, are often Conversely, cultural practices are often highlyhighly differentiated, differentiated,especially especiallywithin withinthe thetea teaindustry. industry,Here Hereititisâ€Ś is
Key Tip #4 Create links between your ideas
Confident, but not opinionated
Judgemental and critical, but not dismissive
Fair and reasoned, without prejudice
Making conclusions, without jumping to conclusions
Traditional academic writing only uses the 3rd person e.g. Not YOU think or I think, but SMITH thinks
Non-personal terms sound more objective: they remove overt indications of personal bias
Most of the time personal pro-nouns can simply be removed from the text
“Drawing on a range of supporting literature, the issue of to what extent to which the political views of the romantic poets influenced those of the educated classes will be explored”
“Drawing on a range of supporting literature, I shall explore the extent to which the political views of Romantic poets influenced those of the educated classes” Source: Copus (2009, p.88)
“Although Nonu (2010) distinguishes between climate change and global warming, I think he fails to do so convincingly”
“Although Nonu (2010) distinguishes between climate change and global warming, he fails to do so convincingly”
Vary your use of direct and indirect quotations
Direct quotations signify the importance of the original author’s terms
Using in-direct quotations shows greater understanding of the topic
Always analyse and evaluate sources
• University study requires a critical approach to learning • This approach is applied in creating a critical response to essay questions • This response is constructed as a thesis statement and developed throughout your essay • Always ensure that your ideas are well structured and linked together
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