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Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Implementing a Critical Attitude.docx

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Social Science
SOSC 1731
Lewis Code

Chapter Three: Implementing a Critical Attitude Shea, V. N., & Whitla, W. (2005). Foundations: Critical Thinking, Reading and Writing. (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Pearson Education Canada Critical Attitude: From Negative Complaint to Academic Frame of Mind As explained by Shea and Whitla, critical thinking involves:  Being able to move from asserting opinions to formulating a position, and  Being able to move from passively receiving ideas, arguments and readings to actively engaging with them.  When we are critical it is vital that we: o Give reasons for and against our position, o Are aware of the assumptions underlying what we are considering, o Question it and analyze it using a logical method, and, o Are able to summarize the results, so that they are understandable to others.  The road to critical thinking begins with adopting and developing a critical attitude. o A critical attitude:  Is an enquiring, reflective and evaluative frame of mind.  Stresses the importance of questioning and evaluating accepted norms and received ideas.  Exposes the weaknesses in the general assumptions and assertions being examined.  Is having an outlook that evaluates and weighs alternative positions without dismissing or ridiculing.  Depends on arranging ideas in arguments that are clear, logical and convincing.  Is one of the most important “employability skills” a person can have. From fact and opinion to arguments based on a critical attitude Fact and Opinion  It is often assumed that there are only two types of argument. o Those based on fact: have only one right answer. o Those based on opinion: depend on human preferences, convictions or personal beliefs about an individual's choices. Moving from Holding an Opinion to Establishing a Position  The main difference between an opinion and an argument is whether or not the position taken can be disagreed with. o If it can be disagreed with, it is moving toward an argument. o If it cannot be disagreed with, it is an opinion. o Disagreeing with a position does not dismiss or replace it with another opinion. Instead, an effective argument involves:  Making a judgment on the basis of critical thinking, and  Taking a reasoned position on the material being discussed. Analyzing the Objectives of your Assignment There are four preliminary procedures that allow us to break down the elements of an assignment and reassemble them using a well formulated argument and relevant applications. Stressing your own Analysis 1. The terms of the assignment should be analyzed first, so that it is clear, what is being asked of you.  Whether it is required to outline, summarize or compare and contrast.  What materials should be drawn upon in the assignment? 2. Next, distinctions should be made within the readings. These distinctions should be made among:  The assumptions behind the readings,  The concepts the author is using to structure his or her analysis, and  The data or examples to which the concepts are being applied. 3. Position yourself in relation to the reading, problem or material.  To form an analysis, the following methods can be used: o Exposition and examples  Describe an argument in terms of its parts and conclusions, illustrating each stage by examples. o Concept and application  Formulate a basic idea about the material and apply it to the assignment.  Note ways in which the concept needs to be qualified. o Compare and contrast  Select key ideas, passages or issues from the material to show similarities and differences.  Organize points of comparison and contrast on the basis of importance, relevance to other course material, assumptions or conceptual frameworks. Using different approaches for different assignments Different kinds of writing require different approaches or a combination of approaches.  Concept essay o Write a specific concept in the course, applying it to one or more texts or examples from the course to demonstrate your ability to use the concept.  Single-book essay o Use a particular theme or idea in your paper and read and analyze the text in light of that notion, citing appropriate evidence.  Comparative essay o Use one or more ideas or texts, and it involves greater problems in organization.  Research essay o Undertake library work on the topic, analyzing and arranging your materials into an argument. o Apply the research to your topic in a coherent and clear way. Speaking and Writing to the Assignment  There is a misconception that written or oral presentations are a free expression of an individual's ideas and feelings about a particular subject.  In reality, most assignments have certain limitations which should be followed to avoid devaluation: o The due date. o The scope of the topic. o The time of the meeting or class, where the information has to be presented.  Even though university instructors usually assign essay topics, sometimes we as students will have to formulate a topic ourselves as part of the assignment. o Either way, it is essential to become aware of the scope of the topic, of its terms and limitations. Essay on Assigned Topic  Undertake systematic reading, including some library research.  Sometimes, you will begin with an impression, later developed into a hypothesis that has to be proved from some passages in the text under consideration.  A problem or contradiction that the text or issue raises or an idea that needs to be developed can be used to begin the essay.  Eventually, several hypotheses about the text or problem will be developed. o As these are tested, the thesis of the essay will be constructed. Following the terms of an Assignment  It is important to follow the specific instructions provided when completing academic work. These instructions include: o The topic and scope of the paper. o The kind of essay you are to write. o The number of texts you are to use.  Neglecting the instructions provided, can lead to mistakes with formatting, using too few texts or even failing to answer the question or address the topic.  An assignment’s instructions, when read with a critical attitude, open up many possibilities for you to position yourself within a set of logical options.  The following steps outline how to ensure that you examine the terms of an assignment closely: Step 1  Separate the subject matter from the formal requirements. o “Use at least two texts from the course syllabus.” o “Hand in a paper of six to eight pages.”  At this stage of assessing the assignment, it is not necessary to decide on exactly how you will follow the requireme
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