November 17, 2011

First Entry on Developing Your Critical Thinking at Masters Level

Tutor: Austin Griffiths

Date: 8 November 2011

The workshop began with an introduction to the concept of critical thinking and why it is such an essential skill when it comes to academic writing. After a short discussion, we came to the conclusion that there is no difference between undergraduate and postgraduate critical thinking. The only difference lies within the fact that undergraduate studies are more structured, whereas postgraduate ones require a more thorough individual research and motivation.

The basic topics covered by the workshop were:

  • Questioning and Hypothesis
  • Arguments and Issues
  • Assessing Journal Texts

The first exercise that we were assigned was to write down in papers words that would illustrate what do we like/dislike about ourselves, why do we think others like/dislike about us. Then, we were supposed to pick a hypothesis and justify it based on the data given, which we had to critically analyze them as to if they wereBias or reliable, and which methods were used.

Secondly, we examined the case of The Queen Vs. Dudley and Stephens, from which we were to summarise the moral issues that arose (Murder, Cannibalism, Consent, Utilitarianism, Sanity) and analyse them in accordance to the potential decisions of the court(guilty, not guilty, guilty but, not guilty but).

Finally, we were taught how to filter surveys' data and findings. The survey conducted was onself-esteem of pupils in schools for social, emotional and behavioural difficulties: myth and reality (Swinson 2007) Picking one of the two methods used, we were asked to comment on any bias, reliability/validity and methodology, identifying strenghts and weaknesses.

The workshop was highly challenging for me as, having completed my undergraduate studies in a different educational system (Greece), I had never been taught how to apply critical thinking on my academic writing. Although I probably should have attended the "introduction to critical thinking" workshop to gain a spherical knowledge on the matter, I found this one extremely valuable.


1. To filter information I read in Journals- not to take any conclusion reached as a fact

2. To apply the methodology mentioned above when it comes to justifying a hypothesis in my academic writing

3. Pay specific attention to the sample used in any research conducted. It is likely that the sample is not representative of the population for many reasons. In some cases, the conclusion reached might me invalid.

- One comment Not publicly viewable

  1. Austin

    Hi Chrysoula,
    Thank you for your comments. It is true that many students from overseas find Critical Thinking, as it is applied in the UK Higher Education system, different from their previous experience. You may well find it useful to attend the first workshop – which looks at questioning, challenge, logic, and argument – if you feel you want to explore these issues further. Your action points are good, but you may want to extend them slightly. For instance, action point 3 might also include assessing the methods and possible bias as well as the sample. In actiojn point 1, I would suggest that you could take concusions as fact ias long as they they are justified by sound arguments and research. What is important is questionning the conclusions in order to verify them (this is explored in workshop 1). I look forward to reading your next entry.


    18 Nov 2011, 12:16

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