Thinking sociologically, thinking critically 2013

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    Chris McMillan, Academic Skills Adviser

  • What does it mean to

    think critically?

  • Moving from remembering, recording and

    describing information to analysing, evaluating and

    synthesising knowledge

    Being critical

    Describing Analysing and


    Critical thinking is a questioning attitude, rather than a

    set of skills

  • Independent and active learning is essential at university

    The ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesise is vital to producing high quality academic work

    Reasoning and analysis skills are highly valued by employers

    Need to be able to think for yourself and make independent judgements

    Universities have a vital role in democratic societies

    Having a critical identity makes you a more interesting person!

    Why is it important to think critically?

  • Universities act as the critic and conscience of society

    More than producing skilled graduates, democratic societies require critical consumers of information to hold those in authority to account

    University scholars seek to move beyond describing what is known to analysing and evaluating what is claimed as knowledge

    Critical Thinking at University

  • I like straightforward classes where there

    are not a lot of different ideas for the

    same thing. I just want to know the facts

    From Moon (2005)


  • Everybody has the right to their own

    opinion and ideas. Who am I do decide

    what is right and wrong


  • I like arguing about competing ideas and

    coming to my own conclusion


  • From description to


    When was Brunel University founded?

  • Critique

    What were the conditions that led to Brunel

    becoming a university?

    What are the factors that have influenced Brunels

    development since 1966?

    What are the current pressures influencing the

    Universitys development and how could it best

    respond to these pressures?

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

  • ?

  • The Internet and Truth

    Which of these is true?

    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,


    The ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in The

    Wizard of Oz sold for a record $165,000.[3]

  • Write for one minute on whether you are an independent thinker in your life and at university.

    Is it something you find difficult, or does it come naturally?

    Are you critical?

  • Being critical in the social sciences

    Questioning the world

    around you

    Being an active and

    sceptical participant

    Asking Why, How and

    How do we know rather

    than describing what

  • Methods vs. Theory

    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

  • Asking the right questions

    "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 childrens behaviour and modes of learning that are being made in this debate?

    How is physical discipline being represented in criminal drama shows?

  • Critical Life: One-Minute Essay

    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?

  • Summary

    Dont 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

  • Next Week

    Critical reading and notemaking

    Need more help?

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    Tuesday and Thursday evenings 5-6 pm

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