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How to be a critical reader
How to be a critical reader

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1.6 Supporting opinions through evidence and examples

In order to have academic credibility, opinions need to be supported by reliable evidence in academic texts. ‘Reliable’ means the kind of evidence that most readers would accept as valid. The aim of the next activity is to identify how opinions are supported by evidence in the text.

Activity 6

Task 1

In Text 3, the author provides evidence to support examples of his central claim that today’s students are uneducated and unfit for a college education. Read Text 3 again and drag the supporting evidence alongside the matching examples listed below.

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Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Editors requesting simplification of textbooks

  2. Students calling parents for support

  3. The author needing to explain things he wants students to perceive

  4. Students wanting an A for any effort they make on a course

  5. Students’ inability to derive future and present value formulas

  • a.Inability to read

  • b.Inability to take responsibility for mistakes

  • c.Inability to understand complicated ideas

  • d.Poor attitude to work

  • e.Inability to read critically

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = a
  • 2 = b
  • 3 = e
  • 4 = d
  • 5 = c

Task 2

Think about how well the author supports his claim with examples and supporting details.

Task 3

Now write down your answers to the following questions.

  • a.Do you still agree or disagree with the author’s views to the same extent as in Activity 1?
  • b.The author supports his opinions or claims by giving examples. Do you find this supporting detail helps to convince you about his point of view?

Answer

  • a.There is no correct answer to this question.
  • b.All of the supporting detail is ‘anecdotal’ in that the author draws on examples from his own experiences. This type of supporting detail is not objective. It would not be considered generally valid because the author has selected from his experience. You need to read it with caution.

Comment

As a critical reader, you will assess whether or not the supporting evidence a writer uses is valid. The next section looks at how writers can use facts or opinions from other sources to support an argument.