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Chris McMillan, Academic Skills Adviser

What does it mean to think critically?

It’s what we do!


Complete the sentence: ‘I never understand why people…’ on one of the post-it notes provided

Pass these notes around the class until you have lost track of their source

Answer this questions: ◦ How could we investigate this question?

Questioning the world around you

Being an active and sceptical participant

Asking ‘Why’, ‘How’ and ‘How do we know’ rather than describing what

Studying in the social sciences produces different ways of being critical

Different disciplines use different frameworks to ask and answer research questions ◦ Methodological assumptions ◦ Theoretical frameworks

Different ways of asking questions produce different answers

"Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?“

Should cannibalism, as part of a good diet, be a criminal offense in New Zealand?

“Should physically assaulting a child be a criminal offense in New Zealand?”

What are the main assumptions made about children’s behaviour and modes of learning that are being made in this debate?

How is physical discipline being represented in ‘criminal’ drama shows?

When was Brunel University founded?

What were the conditions that led to Brunel becoming a university?

What are the factors that have influenced Brunel’s development since 1966?

What are the current pressures influencing the University’s development and how could it best respond to these pressures?

How many people are likely to die from the effects of climate change?


Which of these is true? ď ˝

Derek "The Slipper Man" Fan holds the Guinness World Records record for wearing a pair of dress slippers for 23 years straight as of June 30, 2007.[2]

ď ˝

The ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz sold for a record $165,000.[3]

Why are you reading?

Survey Question Read Repeat Review

Set goals for your reading Read quickly: skim or scan In-depth Critical Analysis Are your questions answered?

How is it being said?

Who said it? Why is it being said?

What argument is being presented?

What authority do they have?

What authority and evidence is used to support this argument?

When was it said?

What methods were used to produce the information? What has been assumed to be true?

Do the authors’ have any particular interest in the issue? Are they responding to a debate or event?

So what?

Why is this important? What are the consequences of this research? What research is required in the future?

Using the ‘critical questions’ presented above, read through the article, critiquing the information presented

What is the main argument of the research?

What is your critique of this argument?

Simpsons meat council

Simpsons medical marijuana

  

Simpsons Romney

Why is this funny? Or wasn’t it…?

Don’t describe – critique, analyse, argue

Know how to think rather than remembering

This is the purpose, and value, of a degree in social sciences

Each discipline has its own tools for asking and answering research questions

Thinking Sociologically, Thinking Critically  
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