Ex. 1Discuss the following questions with your colleagues to share experience in critical thinking.



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Ex. 1Discuss the following questions with your colleagues to share experience in critical thinking.



  1. Do you know what critical thinking is?

2. Why do you think is it useful to sharpen critical thinking skills?

3. Is it difficult for you to ask questions?

4. Why is it so important to synthesize information from a variety of sources?

5. What is it necessary to do to interpret information?

8. What are the means of sharpening critical thinking?

9. Are you a critical thinker?

Listening

Script 7

Ex.2 Listen to the tape and complete these extracts.

Why study critical thinking?

1. Critical thinking is a domain-general thinking skill. The ability to think …….. and …….. is important whatever we choose to do. If you work in education, …….. , finance, management or the legal profession, then critical thinking is obviously …….. . But critical thinking skills are not …….. to a particular subject area. Being able to think well and …….. …….. systematically is an asset for any career.

2. Critical thinking is very important in the new knowledge economy. The global knowledge economy is driven by information and technology. One has to be able to deal with changes quickly and effectively. The new economy places increasing demands on …….. …….. …….., and the ability … …….. information and …….. diverse sources of knowledge … …….. …….. . Good critical thinking …….. such thinking skills, and is very important in the fast-changing workplace.

 

3. Critical thinking enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and …….. can …….. the way we express our ideas. In learning how to analyze the …….. …….. of texts, critical thinking also improves …….. …….. .

 

4. Critical thinking promotes creativity. To come up with a …….. …….. to a problem involves not just having new ideas. It must also be the case that the new ideas being …….. are useful and …….. to the task at hand. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in …….. new ideas, …….. the best ones and …….. them if necessary.

 

5. Critical thinking is crucial for self-reflection. In order to live a meaningful life and to …….. our lives accordingly, we need to …….. and …….. on our values and decisions. Critical thinking provides the tools for this process of …….. .

 

Script 8

Ex. 3 Listen to the tape and tick skills, which were not mentioned.

Critical thinking is an essential tool in both academic writing and reading. Good critical thinkers are able to do the following:

- understand the difference between facts and opinions

- evaluate information generated by observation

- understand a variety of viewpoints

- think logically

- summarize

- detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning

- analyze

- interpret information

- sort out general and specific points

- support and defend an opinion

- make judgments

- solve problems systematically

- make inferences

- draw conclusions

- understand the logical connections between ideas

- ask questions

- view a topic objectively (unbiased)

- synthesize information from a variety of sources

 

Introduction

Writing critically

In 1956, Bloom developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior which is considered important in learning. Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract levels, to the highest level which is classified as evaluation. Most university level writing needs to involve writing at this high level.

The six categories are listed in below. The categories can be thought of as degrees of difficulty. That is, the first one must be mastered before the next one can be taken.

Category Key Words Associated Questions Typical Question Instructions
Evaluation: Makes judgments about the value of ideas or materials for a given purpose in a given context. Presents and defends opinions by making judgments about information, validity of ideas or quality of work based on a set of criteria. Compares and discriminates between ideas. Recognises subjectivity. e.g. appraises, compares, concludes, contrasts, criticizes, critiques, defends, describes, discriminates, evaluates, explains, interprets, justifies, relates, summarizes, supports. Do you agree with the actions/outcomes...? What is your opinion of...? How would you prove/disprove...? Evaluate the outcome.... advise assess estimate evaluate judge rate recommend
Synthesis: Puts parts together to form a whole, with emphasis on creating a new meaning or structure - compiles information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern or proposing alternative solutions. Generalises from facts. e.g. categorizes, combines, compiles, composes, creates, devises, designs, explains, generates, modifies, organizes, plans, rearranges, reconstructs, relates, reorganizes, revises, rewrites, summarizes, tells, writes. What changes would you make to solve...? What would happen if...? Can you elaborate on the reason...? arrange compose construct create design formulate manage organize plan prepare set up
Analysis: Examines and breaks information into parts by identifying motives or causes; making inferences and finding evidence to support generalizations. Includes analysis of elements, relationships and organizational principles. Recognizes hidden meanings. Distinguishes between facts and inferences. e.g. analyses, breaks down, compares, contrasts, diagrams, deconstructs, differentiates, discriminates, distinguishes, identifies, illustrates, infers, outlines, relates, selects, separates. What are the parts or features of...? How is _______ related to...? Can you show connection between...? How would you compare/contrast...? analyze calculate categorize compare contrast criticize debate differentiate discuss distinguish examine experiment inspect
Application: Uses a concept in a new situation. Applies what was learned in the classroom into novel situations. Applies general ideas to concrete situations. Applies what is discussed in one paper to another paper. Predicts probable effects. Solves problems by applying acquired knowledge, facts, techniques and rules in a different way. e.g. applies changes, computes, constructs, demonstrates, discovers, manipulates, modifies, operates, predicts, prepares, produces, relates, shows, solves, uses. How would you use...? What examples can you find to...? Can you relate this information to the present situation? apply demonstrate dramatize employ illustrate interpret operate practice schedule sketch use
Comprehension: Demonstrates understanding of facts and ideas by organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions and stating main ideas. States a problem in own words. Knows what is being communicated and can make use of materials or ideas without necessarily relating it to other materials or seeing further implications. It includes: translation of verbal material into symbolic statements; interpretation of data; extrapolation - trends and tendencies. e.g. comprehends, converts, defends, distinguishes, estimates, explains, extends, generalizes, gives examples, infers, interprets, paraphrases, predicts, rewrites, summarizes, translates. How would you classify the type of...? What was the text about? Can you summarize the author's point of view? classify describe distinguish explain express identify illustrate locate recognize report restate review tell translate
Knowledge: Recalls data or information. Shows knowledge of previously learned material by recalling facts, terms, basic concepts and answers. Has knowledge of specific facts & terminology; knowledge of ways and means - conventions, trends and sequences, classifications and categories, criteria, methodology; knowledge of universals and abstractions - principles & generalizations, theories and structure. e.g. defines, describes, identifies, knows, labels, lists, matches, names, outlines, quotes, recalls, recognizes, reproduces, selects, shows, states. What is...? How is...? Where is...? When did _______ happen? define list name recall record relate repeat state underline

Therefore, in most academic writing it is important to analyze and evaluate or to write critically. Simple description is usually not enough. This means making connections between theory and practice, drawing links between theories, as well as evaluating theories and research. It means giving your opinions (positive and negative) on the work of others and your own opinions based on what you have learned. Critical evaluation requires you to evaluate arguments, weigh evidence and develop a set of standards on which to base your evaluation.

When writing critically, you need to:

- Analyze and categorize theories and research;

- Evaluate theories and research;

- Compare and contrast theories and research;

- Select from theories and research;

- Synthesise from theories and research;

- Make logical connections between theory and practice;

- Give opinions (positive and negative);

- Provide evidence for these opinions;

- Indicate gaps in theories and research;

- Weigh evidence and come to conclusions.

The following questions may be usefully asked about any text or author you refer to or make use of:

A Purpose and background

  1. Why are you reading this text? What is your purpose?
  2. What type of text is it: research report, essay, textbook, book review?
  3. What do you know about the subject of the text?
  4. What else has been written on the subject of the text?
  5. What controversies exist in this area? How does this text fit in?

B The author and the text

  1. Who is the author? What do you know about the author? What authority does the author have?
  2. Who is the intended audience?
  3. What is the author's purpose? Why has the text been written?
  4. What is the source of the text? Is it reputable? Who is the publisher? What reputation to they have?
  5. What is the date of publication? Is it appropriate to the argument?
  6. What is the writer's attitude towards the topic?
  7. What conclusions are drawn?

C Evidence used

  1. Is there a clear distinction between fact and opinion?
  2. Is evidence used to support arguments? How good is the evidence? Are all the points supported?
  3. In an experimental study, was the sample size adequate and are the statistics reliable?
  4. Are there any unsupported points? Are they well-known facts or generally accepted opinions?
  5. How does the writer use other texts and other people's ideas?
  6. Are the writer's conclusions reasonable in the light of the evidence presented?
  7. How do the conclusions relate to other similar research?

D Assumptions made

  1. What assumptions has the writer made? Are they valid?
  2. What beliefs or values does the writer hold? Are they explicit?
  3. Look at the language that is used, e.g. active/passive verbs, nominalisations, pronouns, ergative verbs, articles, etc. Is it always possible to identify particpants and processes? e.g. compare: the government increased taxes; they increased the taxes, taxes were increased; taxes increased; the taxes increased, there was an increase in taxes
  4. Look for emphatic words such as it is obvious, definitely and of course.
  5. Look for hedges: possible, might, perhaps.
  6. Look for emotional arguments, use of maximizes: completely, absolutely, entirely, or minimizes: only, just, hardly, simply, merely.
  7. How else could the text have been written?

As always, all your points of view must be supported.

 



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