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May 31, 2011

Researcher's Bais; Putting Critical Thinking into Pratice

Follow-up to Critical Thinking – Meta Skills Portfolio from Sam's blog

                                                       Researcher's Bais; Putting Critical Thinking into Pratice

Tutor's name: Austin Griffths

For the last couple of weeks I faced a huge challenge manifested in choosing empirical research articles and critique them in a way that contributes to the development of my MA study. Although I had a rough idea of what articles to choose, I was quite clueless to the way I should approach and tackle them. Therefore, I started to apply the action plan that resulted in a sequential development as the following:

1- I did the reading on two-phases. One might think that I did the reading of the whole article twice and wasted a substantial amount of time. On the contrary, I followed an approach of skimming through a section or an entire part of an article to get a rough idea. Then, instead of highlighting the important words or ideas, I devised a critical approach.

Now I read each experiment or phase of an experiment with an scrutinising observant's eye. I ask and apply the background and expertise of the researhcer on his or her study. By doing so, I gain an insightful view of how the study was conducted and the ulterior motives for the researcher to do it. This helped me not only to understand the underlying reasons for the study, but also to define refine my own research proposal.

2- After revealing the researcher bias, if it had existed, I would objectively wiegh different variables against each other and compare the existing literature against the study itself in order to perform some sort of personal validation for myself saying '' If this study holds water to me, it must do to other academics. This step empowered me and boosted my  self-confidence because I am now more ''academically capable'' person and my ultimate purpose that drove me to come to warwick is coming to life which is ''becoming research-oriented''

3- One more area of development I would have never imagined to reach to is being finally to deliver the knowledge I acquired in front of my colleagues and supervisors. Last week, I suceeded in critiquing three articles that have carried out an empirical study. I made A4 copies of my critiquing plan to all the attendees and suprisingly, neither me or them needed to go back to them because I managed to present my arguments in a lucid way that called my colleagues to wonder to make notes and asking my questions after the critiquing session.

Although one might think that critiquing is all about finding flaws or gaps in studies, it involves carrying out a comprehensive assessment of the method of research whether qualitative, quantitative or both, size of the subjects, the sampling process, the way the data was analysed and interpreted. Honestly, it is overwhelming to be able to do all these steps at the same time, but a deep belief that this is a skill that is apt to improving is empowering. I do not claim to be a deft at doing all the steps, but I am directing all my efforts towards polishing these skills by enough practice.

4- To recapitulate, by applying the skills linked to critical thinking, I have become a more multi-disciplinary person honing my personal and professional development towards a better sense of achivement.

Lastly, by knowing more about research proposals, I gained the confidence to apply for a PhD scholarship in Cambridge....Cross your fingers for me.



May 19, 2011

Critical Thinking – Meta Skills Portfolio

                                                                Learning to Think Critically   

Tutor's name: Austin Griffths

While doing my assignments for my Departments at the Centre for Applied Linguistics, I noticed that a great mark for the marking criteria is dedicated to the ability of students to critically analyse their topics. Therefore, I tried very hard to assess my assignments' ideas in a way I would consider all kinds of arguments in favour and against and then try painstakingly to apply critical thinking to them. However, as the MA programme was progressing, more pressure and in-depth critical thinking is becoming required. Subsequently, I followed a course on critical thinking to be able to refine these skills in my dissertation.

In the next few days we are supposed to choose three articles with empirical studies and reported results and then critique these articles from different points of views and decide to adopt one of these studies as a point of reference on which our research within our dissertation will be based. Uopn taking the ''Critical Thinking' workshop, I realised that there is a gap between my current knowledge and current way of thinking and the desired goals by my MA programme at the University of Warwick. Thus, I decided to take the next coming points of action as future orientations for my personal ans professional development.

1- First, while reading my dissertation articles, I will bear in mind to investigate the researcher bias, reliability of the study, and how the method of research was conducted.

2-Next, in order to assess my initial hypothesis, I would follow a three-phase plan to prove or disprove it. This plan involves, assessing points in favour and against, presenting challenging arguments in an unbiased way, and prove or refute articles and studies at hand.

3- Instead of taking the study results at face value, I will follow up a list of inquiries to make me better understand the context and validity of research. These questions involve in a non-linear way, knowing the size of the sample, and how the data was obtained, who is the researcher and his or her bias, and how the data was collected and analysed.

4- The last future action I will pursue a filtering approach towards jounal articles that would enable me to select, choose, and reject any article that is not within the focus of my research. By doing this, I will not only improve my academic skills, but also I will save great time and accomplish a focused study and refined research skills.

I cannot wait to see how applying these will affect my studies.


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  • I would like to thank you for your invaluable support throughout the whole learning process, too. So… by on this entry
  • Hi Sam, Thank you for your final entry to the Warwick Skills Portfolio Award. You have successfully … by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Hi Sam, This is a really powerful reflective account on how you have taken a risk with learning some… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • Hi Sam, These are good action points and I'm looking forward to reading updates on them. For no. 3 t… by Han-na Cha on this entry
  • I really wish you the best of luck with the PhD scholarship. I think you comments are extremely posi… by Austin Griffiths on this entry

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