Critical thinking


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  • Thinking pragmatically about your coursework and the problem of what tutors want?? - Start from the specific and broaden out to the general & then back to particulars
  • What do these phrases mean precisely? Do they mean the same thing to different tutors? Do they mean the same thing in different subject areas & disciplines?
  • Being critical or becoming a critical being is the key to success in HE Key difference in transition from 1 st to 2 nd & 2 nd to 3rd, level of criticality expected Worth remembering that it is something that doesn’t figure in primary, secondary and even in most FE.
  • Importance of cultural difference and your particular educational background. CT is very peculiar to UK HE, aspects of your educational background may not be valued (e.g. memorising = rote learning, respecting & agreeing with a tutor as ‘expert’ Examples of photography, sciences and humanities There is a sense of reflexivity in it as critical thinking would usually involve critical examination of the personal process of critical thinking that has led to any judgment.
  • J. Moon’s definition, ie making a judgment based on appropriate and well considered evidence that takes account of the context in which the judgment is made. I found it helpful to focus not on the outcome of critical thinking, but on the effective provision of evidence
  • In this case, responsible in its deepest sense, ie, not the person who did the action but who is to blame, or has a duty of care, etc.
  • Critical thinking

    1. 1. Analysing information and being ‘critical’ ‘In general students lose more marks for lack of critical analysis than any other single weakness in their work’ (Cottrell 2003:232). What does a tutor say or write to show there is not enough critical analysis ?
    2. 2. Typical tutor comments... ‘More analysis needed’ ‘Less description more critique’ ‘Too descriptive’ ‘Descriptive rather than analytical’ ‘You have told me what theory is rather than how you evaluate it.’ ‘Lacks analysis.’
    3. 3. Look at your assessmentcriteria To get a first (70%): Evidence of a logical, clear coherent development of the topic. Demonstrates an authoritative grasp of concepts and theories in the development of the topic.  A comprehensive use and integration of relevant literature. Evidence of insight/originality…
    4. 4. So what is critical thinking…? There is not one definition. It depends on the discipline & the task. Working with complex ideas, taking a deep & not surface approach to processing ideas. Involves thinking about what we know already, to learn more - like reflection. Specifically, we think/focus on something & expect an outcome (usually) a judgment or conclusion.
    5. 5. A provisional definition … ‘Critical thinking is a capacity to work with complex ideas whereby a person can make effective provision of evidence to justify a reasonable judgement. The evidence, & therefore the judgment, will pay appropriate attention to the context of the judgment.’ J. Moon (forthcoming)
    6. 6. Being critical may involve... AGREEING WITH, ACCEDING TO, DEFENDING OR CONFIRMING a particular view. PROPOSING a new point of view. CONCEDING that an existing point of view has certain merits but that it needs to be QUALIFIED in certain important respects. REFORMULATING an existing point of view or statement of it such that the new version makes a better explanation. DISMISSING a point of view on account of its inadequacy, irrelevance or incoherence etc.
    7. 7. Being critical may involve... REJECTING, REBUTTING or REFUTING another’s argument on various reasoned grounds. RECONCILING two positions which may seem at variance by appealing to some ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ principle. RETRACTING or RECANTING a previous position of one’s own in the face of new argument or evidence. (Taylor 1989:67)
    8. 8. The Bridge Read the text and decide who you think is the most responsible for the woman’s death (rank them in order). In your group see if you can reach agreement. You must justify, give evidence and logical reasons for your position.