Critical Reading Critical Thinking

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					         Critical Reading
         Critical Thinking

                    Angela Koch
          Student Learning Advisory Service
Unit for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

What is critical reading/ thinking?

      Why is it important?

                New thing?
• Not really.
                 Easy ?
• Not really.
                Why not?
• Because you need to engage a part of
  your brain that is not normally used.
                Our brains
• Humans only use 10% of their brains

• Albert Einstein:
  we could all be geniuses if we knew how
  to unleash the full potential of our brains
“Our minds are capable of remarkable, incredible feats, yet
we don‟t use them to their full capacity. In fact, most of us
only use 10 per cent of our brains, if that. The other 90 per
cent is full of untapped potential and undiscovered abilities,
which means our minds are only operating in a very limited
way instead of at a full stretch. I believe that we once had
full power over our minds. We had to, in order to survive, but
as our world has become more sophisticated and complex
we have forgotten many of the abilities we once had.”

    Developing critical thinking
 lack of critical thinking can be explained
  from physiological perspective
 previous environment has not encouraged
  the brain to develop that particular part

need to trigger the part of the brain that has
 been left unused
   Where does this leave you?
• Glad
   - that it is not you but your environment?

• Intrigued
  - want to find out more and especially how to
  develop this part of the brain?

• Puzzled
  - don‟t quite believe that it is that simple?
       Right to be sceptical !

- There‟s no proof that we use only 10% of
  our brains (it‟s a widespread myth!).

- There‟s no link between this myth and
  critical thinking.
 Or have you been taken in by:
• Good standard of language (formal)
• Scientific perspective
• Use of widely accepted premise
     “It is common knowledge …”
• Reference to experts (Albert Einstein)
• Quotation from well-known person
                                 (Uri Geller)
• Use of words that establish logical links
  (therefore, this explains, similarly …)
• Use of „emotional‟ words
   “famous, amazing, well-known …”
• Appeal to audiences „vanity‟ (all geniuses)
• Absence of scientific evidence
• Mentioning Einstein without giving the source
• Uri Geller is an entertainer not a brain expert
• Uri Geller has a vested interest (his livelihood)
• Flawed reasoning (link between psychic powers
  and critical thinking)
         Being critical
Being analytical
 Critical Reading & Critical Thinking
• Critical reading: technique for discovering
  information & ideas
> careful, active, reflective, analytical reading

• Critical thinking: technique for evaluating
  information & ideas
> reflecting on validity in light of prior reading
  and understanding of the world
Parents are buying expensive cars for their
 children to destroy them.
Critical reading:
• Who or what is „them‟? (parents, cars or children?)
• What evidence is given to support this claim?

Critical thinking:
• Is the chosen meaning (claim) true?
• Is it a good idea? Who will benefit / lose out from
  this practice? What will be the impact?
Non-critical:           Critical :
• text provides facts   • text provides portrayal
                        facts of one individual‟s
                        „take‟ on the subject

• Reader memorises      • Reader recognises
  the facts and key       what is said and how it
  remarks                 is said
       Criminological theory text
The non-critical reader    The critical reader takes
takes notes on facts only, notes on
  e.g.                       e.g.
 Classicism preceded       the author‟s particular
  Positivism                 perspective
 Sheldon proposed the      the theory‟s historical
  „body type‟ theory         context underlying concepts
 1960s/1970s study of      the selection of the facts
  crime changed, new        links to other
  „political economy of      developments/ movements
  crime‟ emerged            relevance to today‟s
                             situation/ society
      Critical reading techniques
Deep or intensive reading techniques
•   surveying the text
•   reading more than once
•   reading in chunks
•   stopping to check comprehension (block- break- review)
•   questioning the text
•   taking notes
•   making comments in the margins
•   identifying a line of reasoning
•   identifying evidence
•   identifying assumptions
•   identifying conclusion
                              … and evaluating these!
       Tools of critical reading

Analysis (to know what to look for)
> You have to recognise the aspects of the
  discussion that control the meaning.

Interpretation (what to make of it)
> You have to interpret the data and facts,
   within the text and within the wider context.
    Tools of critical reading (cont.)
•   Analyse & interpret the author‟s portrayal of the
    topic >> to identify the author‟s purpose.

•   Examine the choices the author made
    concerning: - content
                  - structure
                  - language

•   Consider their effect on the meaning
                          Queen Elizabeth II by
                          Annie Leibovitz 2007

                        Portrayal of the
                        same subject:
                        But what are the
                        intentions ?

Queen Elizabeth II by                             Queen Elizabeth II by
Lucian Freud, 2001                                unknown 2007 „in these
                                                  fast-moving times‟
 Example: Hayward & Morrison (2005)
„Theoretical criminology: a starting point‟

Critical reading:
• Does it merely restate facts on the different
  criminological theories?
• Does it discuss aspect of the theories?
• Does it analyse and interpret the theories?
• What is the central message?
• What kind of evidence is offered?
• Is there a criticism?                and more !
Example: Hayward & Morrison (2005)
„Theoretical criminology: a starting point‟
Critical thinking:
• How is it different from/ similar to other texts on
  the same topics, e.g. Walklate (2007) „Perspectives in
  criminological theory‟ with respect to:

 - choice of content/ key information/ evidence
 - choice of structure/ presentation/ approach
 - choice of language /emphasis
 - authors‟ purpose or portrayal
  Why discuss critical reading and
   critical thinking on SO505 ?
• Heavy reading load
 > understand the underlying structure of the
  module (readings will make more sense)

• Complex mix of theories
> identify and understand the underlying
  connections (no theory was developed in
     The intended subject specific learning outcomes
           (Point 11 in Module Specification, 2005)
SO505 Theories of Crime and Deviance builds upon the knowledge
and skills developed at Stage 1 in SO305 Introduction to Criminology.
It will augment these skills by:
•       Describing and assessing a range of theoretical accounts of crime
        and deviance and their control;
•    Further developing the understanding of the social, economic and
     cultural dimensions of crime and deviance;
•    Building on awareness of classical and contemporary ideas about
     the cultural and ideological character of crime and deviance;
•    Developing an understanding of the links between sociological
     theorizing of crime and deviance and the socio-historical context
     in which these theories emerged;

•    Building on existing ability to apply research evidence to
     understandings of deviance, social control and related social
         The intended generic learning outcomes
          (Point 12 in Module Specification, 2005)
On successful completion of this module, students will be able to show:

•    Progression in ability to present arguments in oral form, through
     developing skills in seminar presentation. Groups members will
     ask and respond to questions in a bid to facilitate discussion.
•    Advancement of existing skills in regard to the organisation of
     information in a clear and coherent manner, through essay
     writing, and seminar-based group discussion of completed
•    Be able to synthesise items of knowledge from different schools
     and disciplines of enquiry.
•    Show progression in development of research skills through
     advanced library investigation, critical debate and essay writing.
•    Develop enhanced research and organisational skills by using
     library e-journal and other on-line resources
    Critical thinking when writing
•   Analyse the question
    (implicit and explicit instruction verbs)
•   Check Learning Outcomes
•   Module structure (all lecture topics)
    - overarching themes
    - opposing or complementing ideas
•   Have strong argument
                               Evaluation: the ability to make a
Synthesis: the ability to      judgement about the value of        Bloom’s
combine existing elements in   something by using a standard       Taxonomy
order to create something      (appraise, argue, assess, attach,
original (arrange, collect,
                               compare, defend, estimate,
compose, construct, design,
develop, organize, plan,       judge, predict, rate, select,
propose)                       support, evaluate)

Analysis: the ability to                                     Application: the ability
break content into                                           to use a learned skill in a
components in order to                                       new situation (apply,
identify parts, see                                          demonstrate, employ,
relationships among                                          illustrate, interpret,
them, and recognize                                          sketch, solve, use, write)
organizational principles
(analyse, appraise,
calculate, categorize,
compare, contrast,
criticize, differentiate,
distinguish, examine,                                     Understanding: basic level
question, test)                                           of understanding, the ability
                                                          to know what is being
                                                          communicated in order to
        Knowledge: starting point, includes both the      make use of the information
        acquisition of information and the ability to     (classify, describe, discuss,
        recall information when needed (define, label,    explain, identify, report,
        list, memorize, order, relate …)                  review)
         For a strong argument

•   Provide evidence
•   Have a structured line of reasoning
•   Clear and coherent language
•   Make links between points
•   Provide interim conclusions that lead to …
•   A well supported final conclusion
Possible barriers to critical thinking
- Emotional involvement
- Ignorance
- Prejudice
- Lack of focus or attention to detail
- Focus of facts only
- Understanding „critical‟ as purely negative
- Awe of experts, reluctance to critique
- Lack of practice
      Summary: Critical thinking
•   Recognising reasoning
•   Drawing & recognising conclusion
•   Identifying unstated assumption
•   Appraising evidence
•   Evaluating statements

> Skill to be developed over time, with
     Good Luck

Student Learning Advisory Service