Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides)


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Critical Thinking

Both of these topics have fed into his critique in the belief in learning styles, though he does stress that his critique focuses on learning styles as a psychological theory, and allows that there is still a need to treat pupils as individual learners with different needs and styles within the classroom. Students may have preferences about how to learn, but no evidence suggests that catering to those preferences will lead to better learning.

As college educators, we should apply this to the classroom by continuing to present information in the most appropriate manner for our content and for the level of prior knowledge, ability, and interests of that particular set of students. Willingham has attracted criticism from some educators for "not liking" 21 st century learning. Commentators [ see here for an example ] have suggested that his book, Why Don't Students Like School?

Former Education Secretary, Michael Gove, described the same book as "quite brilliant".

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Though praised by Gove, Willingham himself warned that there was a danger in relying too heavily on exams to test core knowledge. Willingham's work tends to invoke strong feelings in educators. There are those who disagree strongly with his dismissal of learning styles and others who see the potential in approaching learning from a more scientific basis. His work can be thought provoking, and may give teachers grounds to reflect critically on their own teaching styles and approaches to different pedagogies. Why Don't Students Like School? Inspired by evidence-based practice?

If you're a teaching professional or school leader and not already an EdCentral member, you can join for free. For details of our other subsidised packages visit this page for more info. After logging in to EdCentral, search EdResearch for direct access to summaries, links and reviews about Professor Willingham's work. My Reading List Submit your own research. Beginners' guides Bite Size Policy Classroom fad or fiction? Expert Insights Random thoughts Research Matters Tales from the frontline Teacher tips. How can you judge if information from practice assessors, mentors or colleague is of good quality?

For example, consider whether they are quoting from their own experience or from research evidence or guidelines. Where there is no research evidence relating to a complex and unusual problem then experience and reflective judgement can be very valuable. Discussion between professionals about information or research that has been critically appraised is likely to be beneficial. However, it is not always the case that information will be critically appraised by practitioners.

The examples of the reporting of the Implanon story Example 1, Chapter 1 and the MMR vaccination story Example 2, Chapter 1 show how misinformation can easily spread when information is not critically appraised. If you stop to think about this, the implications are enormous. If information or advice is not critically appraised or is based on unfounded rumour, and is then passed unchallenged from one professional to another, we will not be demonstrating evidence-based practice and we will certainly not be applying critical thinking!

We will discuss this further in Chapter 5. Lectures Lectures may only provide a basic introduction to a topic. To gain a full understanding of the topic, you are expected to access the given references or reading list and read more broadly around the subject. If you only refer to lecture notes in your assignment or use them as evidence for your practice it implies that you have not been thinking critically or in depth about the subject.

There is one exception to this, which is if you have a lecture from a leading authority or expert on a topic and he or she is delivering material that is as yet unpublished. Then, and only then, may you quote from this lecture in your assignment or discuss their ideas in practice without finding further supporting information. However, even then your argument will be stronger if you find related evidence to back up what you write. How can you judge the quality of a lecture? Consider the sources that the lecturer is referring to and whether the arguments they present make sense.

Our advice is that you should avoid referring only to a lecture in your written work or practice. Instead, use the ideas generated in the lecture, read up some of the references and refer to these instead. It is far better still to search more widely on the topic, as we will discuss in the next chapter — a lecture should be used as a basis for further reading and investigation.

Unfortunately a lot of people rely on information they have received in a lecture without doing the appropriate reading. They also rely on this information for years to come. The implications of this are similar to what happens if practice information is passed from one colleague to another without critical thinking. We quickly become out of date.


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If we are to become independent critical thinkers we need to move on from this approach and use lectures as they are meant to be used — as launch-pads for further reading and discussion. Textbooks Textbooks, especially at undergraduate level, generally provide a springboard for further study. Some textbooks provide a basic overview of current knowledge on a particular area, especially if you are starting out in a topic. They may provide sound factual information on topics such as anatomy and physiology.

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Others provide ideas, theoretical models and frameworks or opinions on a topic by leading experts. The main thing is to ensure that you have identified the most appropriate textbook for your purpose. Consider who the author is, the date of publication and the target audience.

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Be prepared to use the textbook as a springboard for further reading. We suggest you do not start with a specialist book if you are new to a topic.

This is because when you are starting to study a topic, it is usually most helpful to have an overview of the topic rather than to start by focusing on a specialist area which you may not be able to put into context. Do use the information on the back cover to find out who the book is aimed at and what the contents cover.

Consider whether the textbook is appropriate for your level and focus of study. We also suggest that you read the reviews of textbooks and follow recommendations on your reading lists for core texts, noting who these are aimed at. Remember that a book can take many months and sometimes years to get into print so consider how up to date the information is and whether there are likely to be changes in the evidence used to support the arguments given in the book.

Finally, make sure that you have the most up-to-date edition of any textbook you use, remembering that new editions of most popular texts are generally published every few years. Look at the date of the references used in the book too. Those who mark your work will notice if you are referring to an older version of a recently updated book.

Hard copy or electronic journals Many workplaces subscribe to a journal, either in a hardbound copy or using an online electronic journals facility. If you find this is the case in your work or practice area, try and find out why that particular journal was chosen. It may be a specialist journal that publishes all the best research in that topic area. Remember that information found in one journal will not usually give you the range and breadth of literature that is available on a particular topic. Please refer to Chapter 3 where we discuss how to search for a wider range of literature.

One research paper, even if it is a piece of good quality research relevant to your topic, is rarely enough for you to base a judgement on regarding correct practice or an academic argument. For any one study supporting a view, there may be four other papers that have a contradictory view. There is a wide variety of information in all types of journals — from editorials to original research papers, to letters to the editor.

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It is important that you can recognize the types of information you may come across and use this appropriately in your written work or practice environment. These are explained below. One important thing to remember is that journals that are easily available in your workplace will not provide a comprehensive range of relevant information on a topic.

A full range of relevant information may be published in a variety of other sources and you will only find these through carrying out a comprehensive search — we will discuss this in Chapter 3. What information will you find in a journal? Editorials These are written by the editor of a journal and represent his or her viewpoint or the viewpoint of the editorial team.

Systematic reviews These are reviews of research undertaken on a particular topic and are generally presented using a research structure, as described here. Method which should outline the approach to the search. Results or findings. They should discuss how the quality of the research was appraised.

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Critical Thinking: A Beginner's Guide by Sharon M. Kaye (Paperback, 2009)

The most comprehensive collection of systematic reviews is from the Cochrane Collaboration. Unsystematic reviews or descriptive reviews These may give a broad overview of a topic drawing on a wide range of literature. You should also note whether the quality of the research used has been appraised. This type of review will provide weaker evidence than one which has been compiled systematically.

However, that is not to say that the information will not be useful to you, as such reviews may provide a concise but not comprehensive introduction to, or overview of, a topic. If you refer to this type of review in your written work, make sure that you are clear about the type of evidence you are using. Research studies Research studies generally provide stronger evidence than more anecdotal sources. These can be identified as they normally begin with a specific research question or aim which is addressed using an identified method, following which the results or findings, discussion and conclusions are given.

They can be quantitative or qualitative and there are various approaches that can be taken within these broad areas.

Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides) Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides)
Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides) Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides)
Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides) Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides)
Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides) Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides)
Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides) Critical Thinking: A Beginners Guide (Beginners Guides)

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