Chris McMillan, Academic Skills Adviser
What does it mean to
Moving from remembering, recording and
describing information to analysing, evaluating and
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?
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.
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
Being an active and
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
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?
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
Critical reading and notemaking
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