Understanding complex information

Understanding complex information
Sara Steinke
Aims of the session
• Consider ways of approaching intricate and
interconnected information
• Practise skills of recording, retrieving and
using this information
• Reflect upon your present strengths in
understanding complex information, the areas
for improvement that you are hoping for and
the strategies that work best for you
Think about the following
1. What do you think is meant by ‘complex
2. What types of ‘complex information’ have you
encountered in your first term at Birkbeck?
3. How have you dealt with ‘complex information’?
How successful were you? What are the areas of
improvement you are hoping for?
Understanding complex material
• Critical thinking about complex material –
ask the what, who, why, when, where, how
• Understanding complex material – SQ3R
reading techniques may help you here
• Note-taking – and retrieval of complex
• Using complex information in writing essays,
presentations, research, revision, exams
What is mind mapping?
‘a thinking tool that reflects
externally what goes on
inside your head’
• Impact
Tony Buzan
• Memory
• Imagination
• Focus
How to mind map
1. Write your central idea in the middle of the
page – A5 landscape is best
2. Add your main ideas – use curved, thick lines
of different colours
3. Write secondary ideas related / developing to
the main ideas – use thinner lines as you add
more ideas
4. Use images, symbols, key words
5. Make links to show connections the between
the ideas – a dotted line is fine
Advantages of mind mapping
• Quicker to write and read
• Gives you an excellent overview
• Forces you to be brief
• Relationship between ideas becomes obvious
• Can add more details around the map at a
later stage
• Visual, more easily remembered than linear,
written notes
Class activity: brainstorming
Class activity: essay planning
Draw a mind map to plan
the following essay question
Discuss the consequences
of the increase in university
tuition fees for students.
What are the strengths of the
What are the weaknesses of
the article?
What opportunities does the
article propose?
What threats does the article
Think about critical thinking
skills – arguments, reasoning,
sources, evidence, author,
Explore the advantages
and disadvantages of the
Olympics for London.
Reflective learning
1. Write down the three most important
things that you have learnt / thought about in
this session? Why were they important to you?
2. Are there any areas of improvement that
you need to take action on? If so, what are
you doing to do to improve this aspect
of your learning?
Recap of the session
• Considered ways of approaching intricate and
interconnected information
• Practised skills of recording and retrieving and
using this information
• Reflected upon your present strengths in
understanding complex information, the areas
for improvement that you are hoping for and
the strategies that work best for you
Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study
Skills Handbook, 3rd Edition
(London, Palgrave) chapter 12
‘Critical analytical thinking’
Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical
Thinking Skills (London,
(transcript of the audio file)
(several online resources available
on the Birkbeck Library website)
http://www.palgrave.com/skills4 get-ahead-stay-ahead/skills/criticalthinking
(a 12 minute audio file based on (a 5 minute interactive tutorial
Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills supporting this Get Ahead Summer

similar documents