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Academic Skills Essentials: Analysing and thinking critically

What is critical thinking?

If you have received feedback on your assignment that requires you to show more critical thinking in your writing, but you don’t know what this means – you have come to the right place.

 

What is critical thinking?

Critical thinking is about not believing everything you read or hear about without first looking for evidence to support claims or ideas. It is about being systematic about asking and answering questions about what you read and hear

 

What questions do critical thinkers ask?

  • Who?
  • What?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • How?
  • Why?
  • What if?
  • What next?
  • So what?

 

What is the outcome of asking and answering these questions?

By asking and answering questions on any topic using these nine question prompts systematically, you will be able to describe, analyse and evaluate any topic.

  1. Describe – Asking Who? What? Where? and When? Questions provide answers that allow you to define exactly what you are discussing.
  2. Analyse – Asking How? and Why? Questions provide answers that allow you to examine and explain how parts fit into a whole, provide reasons, compare and contrast.
  3. Evaluate – Asking What if? What next? and So what? Questions provide answers that judge something, its implications and/or its value.

Activity

Examine the abstract of the journal article using the link below. Practice asking and answering the critical thinking questions above.

https://doi-org.ezproxy.ecu.edu.au/10.1017/jie.2013.8

Answer

  • Who?
    • Who is the author? Shalini Watson
    • Who is the article writing about? Australian Indigenous people
  • What?
    • What is the article about? It looks at opportunities that digital technologies can offer to Australian Indigenous learners
    • What is the main purpose of this article?  That there is potential to increase access for indigenous people to higher education in Australia
    • What information is given to support the author’s position? The author conducted a literature review on the topic
  • Where?
    • Where does the author work? At the time of publication, she worked at Curtin.
    • Where does the author work now? How can I find out?
  • When?
    • When was the journal article published? In 2013
  • How?
    • How did the author come to the article’s conclusion? By citing studies that support the suitability of digital technologies to be highly compatible with the needs of Indigenous learners
  • Why?
    • Why did the author write this article? Answers will vary
  • What if?
    • What if cultural viewpoints are built into a digital learning environment?
    • What if the recommendations within this paper are implemented within the next five years at all universities in Australia?
  • What next?
    • Could a new review of the literature into the topic be conducted in 2019?
  • So what?
    • So what do the findings mean for the First Nations people of Canada and other countries?

Reference

University of Plymouth. (n.d.) Retrieved from  https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/student-life/services/student-services/learning-development

This framework is used with permission from the Learning Development, University of Plymouth.

References

Image: https://pixabay.com/photos/woman-question-mark-person-decision-687560/