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Lesson Area 2 – Critical Thinking and Comparison

Introduction

Reading to understand is the first step in an academic process. Once we understand, we can then discuss, interpret and compare ideas as we engage with them. As we read, we engage ideas expressed by different authors working in different fields like science, education, and culture. We begin to see writers approach issues and debates with different sets of questions and assumptions. Our critical thinking skills help us to appreciate these differences and what we can learn from them.

Overall, this Lesson Area will help you develop skills in critical thinking and analysis and apply those skills in the development of a critical comparison of two articles. These analytical skills are the building blocks for many academic tasks, including understanding and responding to theories, arguments and in-depth analyses of a single work.

What is a Critical Comparison?

In a critical comparison, we compare what two different writers have to say about the same topic or problem. Our first task is to understand and compare what each writer says. Our second task is to consider why each writer takes the position that they do.

When we write a critical comparison, we ask: What assumptions does a writer make about a topic and how do these assumptions affect their claims and ideas about that topic? Asking questions like these is an example of critical thinking.

Why is This Important?

We need the skills of critical comparison to help us understand how and why writers from diverse backgrounds and with different perspectives can develop a variety of diverse opinions about the same issues or debates in society. Once we learn some of the differing opinions and arguments on a given issue, we can begin to develop our own informed positions on that topic.

How to Start

Lesson Area 2 offers 4 lessons that guide you through a process of critical thinking and the development of a critical comparison essay

This Lesson Area works best when you complete the lessons in order. In each lesson, you build on the work completed in the one before it until, finally, you complete a comparison essay.

Can’t do it all? No problem. Dip in to any lesson to find useful tips, templates and samples on each topic.

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View the quick access list of the blank templates offered in this lesson. You can use these templates as resources to help you complete future work.

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Special Note:

If possible, take the time to print off your own practice activities so that you will have your work to use when you get to the next lesson. As well, you can print the sample answers to every activity for reference.

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Lesson Area 1 – Critical Reading and Summary

Introduction

Reading academic material, whether course work or research material, can sometimes be a daunting task. We don’t always find it easy to understand what we’re reading, and sometimes we aren’t sure why we are reading something or how it will help us.

Luckily, you can develop your reading skills to help you make the most of your academic experience. When we first engage with course work or research material, our first task is to understand and summarize what we have read. From this, we will be able to work with these new ideas in more complex ways.

Overall, this Lesson Area will help you develop your ability to read and understand a professional article, identify the main arguments and ideas in that article, and express those main ideas clearly and accurately in a well-formatted summary essay.

What is an Academic Summary?

We summarize information all the time, for example by explaining what we did on the weekend or describing a favourite movie. But academic summary is a little more involved.

The goal of academic summary is to identify and express the most necessary ideas from the work. As you move through your studies, you will be expected to read and learn from many sources, including articles, textbook chapters, videos and podcasts.

To manage all this, you will need to get good at understanding what you read in order to filter the information, and identify the most important ideas and arguments. These key ideas can be summarized so you can use them in exams and write papers.

Remember, you only truly understand a source if you can summarize it effectively.

How to Start

Lesson Area 1 offers 3 lessons that guide you through a process of critical reading and the development of a summary essay.

This Lesson Area works best when you complete the lessons in order. In each lesson, you build on the work completed in the one before it until, finally, you complete a summary essay.

Can’t do it all? No problem. Dip in to any lesson to find useful tips, templates and samples on each topic.

Menu

[su_list icon=”icon: book”]

[/su_list]

View the quick access list of the blank templates offered in this lesson. You can use these templates as resources to help you complete future work.

[su_note note_color=”#ffffff”]

Special Note:

If possible, take the time to print or save your own practice activities so that you will have your work to use when you get to the next lesson. As well, you can print or save the sample answers to every activity for reference.
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