December 15, 2011

An Introduction to Critical Thinking (A5) – First entry

Workshop: An Introduction to Critical Thinking; Tutor: Austin Griffiths

Date: 13/12/2011

Critical thinking has always been the weakest chink in my academic armour. Hailing from India, where I have NEVER once been expected to critically think (maybe because our only mode of assessment was written exams!), I find this concept extremely elusive! For this very reason, and the fact that a chunk of my assessed coursework (for MSc. Biotechnology and Business Management) is essays (which rely on the concept of critical thinking), I decided to attend the 'Introduction to Critical Thinking' workshop on 13/12/2011 at 10 am.

As expected, I was not at all disappointed by the workshop, which involved loads of activities like analysis of pieces of writing or solving puzzles or picking out the logical and valid arguments from the not and others. We also learnt the important concepts of questioning and challenge and logic and argument. I daresay that this was by far the BEST workshop amongst the four others that i have attended for the Masters Skills Portfolio Awards.

The main reason why the workshop was so good, according to me, is because of the brilliance with which the tutor, Austin Griffiths conducted it. He showed us an interesting video (my favourite part) and was constantly interacting with us, patiently answering all queries as we went along. He even took the time off after to help me with a few queries regarding my essay.

At the end of the workshop, we were asked to come up with a few things that we would consciously want to make an effort to improve. Since I am an absolute zero at critically analyzing anything, I literally have to start from scratch! So these are the few Action Points that I came up with:-

  • I will, firstly try to critically assess EVERY piece of text i read and try to figure if there was a scope for the author to say something better/more/with more references/proof. This will help me analyze text better and enhance my critical thinking as well.
  • As Mr. Griffiths suggested, I will not take for granted any text for my coursework, just because it has been written by an established name. I will reason it out and be more opinionative.
  • With respect to my essays, I have one due on the 10th of January, 2012. It is titled "Has gene therapy come of age?" I had no clue how to approach such a topic until i spoke with Mr. Griffiths and, based on his guidance, I am going to try to look at it from a critical perspective and change my entire outlook to the essay, i.e. be more critical and add my opinions wherever i think appropriate. This will just be the start to a the fresh perspective that i will try to add to all my essays or any other written/read work, from here on forward.
  • Another very crucial thing which i will implement is critically analyzing my own essay after writing it, in a manner the assessor of my work would. This would help me logically reason out and validate my work and find loopholes, if any, to correct before making a submission.

So these are the action points i took home from the workshop and i will strive to achieve each and every one of them, to make myself a better person and make it all worth it, in the long run.

Have a lovely week.



- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Austin Griffiths

    Hi Abbas,
    Thank you for your comments on the workshop. I am glad it was useful in helping you develop your own critical approach to your studies.
    I like the action points you have set. I think they reflect a strong desire to encompass a critical approach to your work. Critical thinking is one of those things that becomes second nature if you do it regularly, and your action points will allow you to do this. You first point on reading text is a good idea. Reading critically is not only about challenging or looking for weaknesses, but also about assessing strength; being able to articultate why we may be convinced about the quality of a piece of work. Gene therapy is a very interesting subject, from philosophical, moral, and scientific standpoints and, as I said after the workshop, I would advise you to speak to the subject tutor to find out which (it may be all) standpoint your department wants you to look at. I look forward to hearing how you get on.


    16 Dec 2011, 13:01

  2. Abbas Siraj Deesawala

    Thank you Mr. Griffiths. I will do my best to follow your advice. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    19 Dec 2011, 19:05

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  • Hello Abbas – I'm pleased you found the workshop useful – you've produced a great set of clear actio… by Mary Sage on this entry
  • Thank you Mr. Griffiths. I will do my best to follow your advice. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year… by Abbas Siraj Deesawala on this entry
  • Hi Abbas, Thank you for your comments on the workshop. I am glad it was useful in helping you develo… by Austin Griffiths on this entry
  • Thank you for your advise Ms. Cha. I will definitely do reading and note–making next term. Also, my … by Abbas Siraj Deesawala on this entry
  • Hi Abbas, Thanks for this post with your action plan and also how you've put them into progress thus… by Han-na Cha on this entry

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