Critical thinking at postgraduate level

Report
GET AHEAD
POSTGRADUATE SUMMER PROGRAMME 2014
Critical thinking at
postgraduate level
Sara Steinke
[email protected]
Aims of the session
• To review what is meant by critical thinking
• To identify the importance of advanced critical
thinking - higher order thinking - for
postgraduate study
• To reflect on how to develop your critical
thinking in preparation for postgraduate study
• To introduce the link between higher order
thinking and advanced critical reading and
writing at postgraduate level
Think about the following
Critical
thinkers can
...
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Summarise complex ideas
Evaluate arguments and evidence
Understand opposing positions
Draw reasonable conclusions
Predict logical consequences
Devise sensible alternatives
Solve complex problems
See connections between subjects
Distinguish between emotive and
neutral vocabulary
10. Distinguish between theory, fact,
opinion
Anderson’s and Krathwohl’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Domain
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Remembering: Retrieving, recalling, or
recognising knowledge from memory.
Understanding: Constructing meaning from
different types of functions be they written
or graphic messages activities like
interpreting, exemplifying, classifying,
summarising, inferring, comparing, and
explaining.
Applying: Carrying out or using a procedure
through executing, or implementing.
Analysing: Breaking material or concepts into
parts, determining how the parts relate or
interrelate to one another or to an overall
structure or purpose.
Evaluating: Making judgments based on
criteria and standards through checking and
critiquing.
Creating: Putting elements together to form a
coherent or functional whole; reorganising
elements into a new pattern or structure
through generating, planning or producing.
Importance of critical thinking at university (1)
1. Occurs across all teaching/learning activities cornerstone of academic study
2. Involves thinking analytically about yours and
other peoples work/ideas - adopting a critical
distance
3. Examines the messy grey area, rather than
supplying black or white, yes or no answers means of pushing the boundaries of
knowledge forward
Importance of critical thinking at university (2)
4.Not simply related to content - involves the
means of producing knowledge
5.Involves a variety of academic skills
- reading, note-making, essay/report writing,
revision strategy, exam technique, presentations,
organisational skills, time management
6.Requires an active, independent, reflective
approach to learning - C.R.E.A.M. approach to
learning
Cottrell, S. The Study Skills Handbook
C - Creative
have the confidence to use your individual strategies and styles, apply
imagination to your learning
R - Reflective
sit with your experience, analyse and evaluate your own performance
and draw lessons from it
E - Effective
organise your space, time, priorities, state of mind and resources to
the maximum benefit
A - Active
be personally involved, do things, physically and mentally in order to
make sense of what you learn
M - Motivated
be aware of your desired outcomes using short and long-term 'goals'
Importance of advanced critical thinking for
postgraduate study
• Greater engagement with methodology
• Required to write a literature review
• Better understanding of how to project
manage/problem solve in the research process including producing primary research
• Reflected in the structure of a dissertation
• What employers expect of you
• Related to improved motivation, time
management - and battle against procrastination,
isolation
What is critical thinking? (1)
Cottrell, S. The Study Skills Handbook
1. Stand back from the information given
2. Examine it in detail from many angles
3. Check whether it is accurate
4. Check each statement follows logically
5. Look for possible flaws in the reasoning/
evidence/conclusion
6. Compare the same issue from point of view
of theorists/writers
What is critical thinking? (2)
7.
Explain why different people arrive at
different conclusions
8.
Argue why one opinion/result/conclusion
is preferable to another
9.
Be on guard for devices that encourage the
reader to take questionable statements at
face value
10. Check for hidden assumptions
11. Check for attempts to lure the reader into
agreement
Think about the following
You have been asked
to read an article in
preparation for a
lecture.
What questions might
you ask in order to
think critically about
the article?
1. What is the main
argument of the article?
2. What are the reasons
given to justify the
argument?
3. What evidence has been
used?
4. What do you know about
the author?
5. What audience is the
author addressing?
6. What sources has the
author used?
Critical thinking
Can you:
distinguish between fact and opinion?
draw conclusions based on evidence?
account for different points of view and detect
bias?
see the wider picture?
do you know the difference between
description, analysis and evaluation?
Importance of advanced critical thinking skills
for the research process
What is the
importance of
advanced critical
thinking for
the research
process at
postgraduate
level?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
Preparing for your viva
Presentation skills - conference/teaching
Writing/structuring your thesis
Time management/dealing with
procrastination and isolation
Research ethics
Knowledge management
Project planning/problem solving
Managing discussion
Writing for different audiences
Creative thinking
Managing your supervisor
Importance of critical reading
more at session on 19 August
Can you:
select and use different reading strategies (e.g. skim,
scan, in-depth)?
think about what you need to find out before you
start reading (are you reading to verify facts, to
understand a subject in general or to analyse a
particular argument)?
critically evaluate reading?
deal with new vocabulary?
Importance of critical writing
more at session of 27 August
Can you:
express your ideas clearly in written form?
make an outline of what you are going to write?
write in clear sentences and paragraphs?
link your ideas in a logical order?
use correct grammar?
develop your own argument?
identify your audience and write in an
appropriate register?
Useful books
Becker, L. (2004) How to Manage your
Postgraduate Course (Palgrave)
Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills (London,
Palgrave)
Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical Thinking Skills (London,
Palgrave)
Wisker, G. (2008) The Postgraduate Research
nd
Handbook, 2 ed. (Palgrave)
Wallace, M. & Wray, A. (2011) Critical Reading and
nd
Writing for Postgraduates, 2 ed. (Sage)
Useful websites
http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/mp3s.asp#Critical
12 minute audio file based on Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills
http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/studyskills/thinking/index
.asp
helpful information on critical thinking skills on the Skills4Study
Website
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/get-ahead-stay
ahead/skills/critical-thinking
5 minute interactive tutorials supporting this Student
Orientation programme
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/studyskills/course_timetable
academic skills workshops dealing with critical thinking skills –
and other academic skills - in greater detail
More useful websites
http://www.palgrave.com/skills4study/studentlife/postgraduate/
index.asp
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/support/ph
d-support
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/support/
research-ethics
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/support/
research-projects
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/support/
research-skills
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/mybirkbeck/services/facilities/support/
internet
Recap of the session
• Have you understood the importance of advanced
critical thinking - higher order thinking - for
postgraduate study?
• How are you going to develop your critical thinking
for postgraduate study?
• Have you thought about the importance of
advanced critical thinking for the research process
at postgraduate level?
• Are you aware of the link between higher order
thinking and advanced reading and writing at
postgraduate level?
Next session
• Tuesday 19 August, 6pm-7.30pm, room 421
• Reading at postgraduate level
- coping with large amounts of reading
- increasing your understanding of the
reading
- reading strategies for academic purposes,
including more complex reading
- note-making for academic purposes

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