Thursday 9 January 2014

What is Critical Thinking?

What is critical thinking?
  • To explore the meaning of critical analysis 
  • To develop critical thinking and writing skills
  • To begin critically analysing some examples

  • Critical analysis - an appraisal based on careful analytical evaluation
  • Critical analysis is a central process involved in all academic work. It involves hard (critical) thinking which is applying rational and logical thinking while deconstructing the different texts that a person reads  (
  • it is when you are a terrorist
Critical Analysis - what is it?

`In academic terms, critical analysis means considering the claims of theorists, governments, authorities and so on, what they are based on, and how far they seem to apply or be relevant to a given situation.  (Univ of Sussex Language Institute (1998) Critical Analysis, Argument and Opinion. [online]  [Accessed 28.06.04]

Why use critical analysis?

  • Critical analysis is a key skill for writing essays
  • It allows you to assess the various ideas and information that you read, and decide whether you want to use them to support your points  
  • It is something we do everyday when assessing the information around us and making reasoned decisions, for example whether to believe the claims made in TV adverts  
  • It does not always mean disagreeing with something; you also need to be able to explain why you agree with arguments. 
Critical analysis involves:
  • Carefully considering an idea and weighing up the evidence supporting it to see if it is convincing
  • Then being able to explain why you find the evidence convincing or unconvincing.

 Differences between descriptive and critical analytical writing.

Differences between descriptive and critical analytical writing.

Analysing images and texts.

Some considerations.

What was happening at the time? 
Historical, social, political, economic factors etc.
What is it?
What is it for?
Who is the target audience?
Is it fit for purpose?
Who produced it?
Where was it produced?
Where was it designed to go?
Where is it now?
How was it produced?
Production techniques

Practicing critical analysis.
It helps if you ask yourself a series of questions
about the material you are reading:
  • Who is the author and what is their viewpoint or bias?
  • Who is the audience and how does that influence the way information is presented?
  • What is the main message of the text?
  • What evidence has been used to support this main message?
  • Is the evidence convincing; are there any counter-arguments?
  • Do I agree with the text and why do I agree or disagree?

Writing critically.

  • How do I criticise the work of established academics/practitioners?
  • By reading other established academics/ practitioners that may have different views
  • By looking for practical evidence that may support or refute the established theory.
Writing critically.

  • How can I criticise others work?
  • Check for logical coherency of the arguments.
  • May the author be biased?
  • Cultural, gender, professional biases, etc.
  • Does the author clearly outline his/her theoretical base?
  • Are the authors arguments supported by relevant evidence and other peoples work?
  • Are the authors methods trustworthy?
Writing critically.
  • Is critical writing about criticising others work?
  • Yes but it is only a small part.
  • It is also about:
  • Integrating different sources of information (books, articles, etc.) to provide a fuller picture of your topic.
  • Giving an overview of your topic:
  • What are the key themes, arguments and conclusions?
  • How were they developed?
  • Do the authors in the area agree/disagree with each other?
  • What does the theory in your topic mean for practice?
  • Providing practical evidence to illustrate and support your arguments.
 Critical analysis at work.

 Walter Benjamin
‘The Work Of Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction’


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