Succeeding in postgraduate study
Succeeding in postgraduate study

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Succeeding in postgraduate study

Session 3: Critical and analytical thinking


Welcome to Session 3. In this session we explore the concept of critical thinking. We consider different approaches and fundamental aspects, examine why critical thinking and analysis are important in academic studies, and discover some tips to help you to evaluate an argument. Begin the session by listening to the following audio recording.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Recap and overview of Sessions 3 and 4
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Transcript: Recap and overview of Sessions 3 and 4

Welcome to Session 3. We hope you are enjoying the course so far. Let's briefly recap on the last session before looking forward to what lies ahead.
In Session 2, we examined the importance of reflective thinking and reflective learning for academic and professional development. We discussed some of the key features, core concepts, and models for reflective thinking. We also introduced you to learning journals and mind maps, tools that should help you develop and practise your reflective thinking. And finally we explored some of the conventions, characteristics, and demands of academic writing expected at postgraduate level.
In the next two sessions, we present some ideas to help you think critically and analytically. We discuss how critical analysis differs from qualitative description and review some practical approaches to critical thinking.
Let's start by putting this in context. We take decisions in our daily lives that require us to think critically and logically but can also frequently take for granted. We may not actively or consciously reflect on the process. For instance, we make purchasing decisions that require careful and logical reasoning because we are often presented with many options and have to take budgetary constraints into account. At work, we make decisions about strategy, planning, management, change, and so on. In all these cases, we call on our critical thinking analytical capacity in order to achieve the best outcomes.
In Session 3, we look at the concept of criticality and what it means to be critical through a variety of media. We begin with an introduction to logical and critical thinking through a blog discussion that took place on "The Conversation". This is a web platform that includes blogs and debates where academics and practitioners share ideas on topical issues. We will begin to unpack the notion of critical thinking and examine how the term is used in a number of disciplines. Once you've become familiar with these different perspectives, we then focus on some underlying principles in criticality for academic purposes.
In Session 4, we discuss why critical thinking and analysis is so important in academic studies and introduce argumentation and evidence-based analysis. This should help you understand premises and conclusions, components of a good argument. By the end of Session 4, you should be able to construct an argument in standard form.
Thanks for listening. You're all set to begin Session 3.
End transcript: Recap and overview of Sessions 3 and 4
Recap and overview of Sessions 3 and 4
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By the end of this session you should be able to:

  • recognise the nature and importance of critical thinking for studying at Master’s level
  • understand how critical analysis differs from qualitative description.
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