This booklet contains all the handouts and information that you will need for the Critical Thinking workshop held at the Student Development Unit. As well as the exercises we’ll be working on during the session, you will also find guidance that you can keep for future reference, such as advice on active learning and intelligence, models for critical thinking skills, and questions to help you think critically.
When you are asked to complete an academic assignment, your tutor will be looking for evidence of these three skills:
• Gathering of complex material
• Making sense of that complex material
• Communicating your understanding of that complex material to an informed reader.
The ‘making sense’ stage is the one we tend to neglect out of fear that we may not have anything of value to contribute. But, as the eminent thinker Edward De Bono puts it: ‘Thinking is a skill that can be improved by training, by practice and through learning how to do it better. Thinking is no different from any other skill and we can get better at the skill of thinking if we have the will to do so.’ We hope that this handbook will help you to develop strongly argued and well-structured pieces of work, and encourage you to build critical thinking into every aspect of your academic life.
Be prepared to make some changes to how you work – if you always do things in the same way, you’ll keep getting the same results. We need to change our actions to change our outcomes. Start with some small adjustments and see what a difference they make…
Many of the hints and exercises are taken from Stella Cottrell’s The Study Skills Handbook (Hampshire: Palgrave, 2003), and I recommend it to you as a highly useful resource.
Good luck with your...