flow logically from the research prupose

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CHECKING COHERENCE OF YOUR RESEARCH PROCESS Do the questions flow logically from the research prupose Does your conclusion respond to the research purpose Can you measure- gather data on the questions Do the data allow you to answer the question Do your findings answer these questions Are the conclusions supported by your findings Note- Findings, discussion and conclusion must be at least 50% of your report. Total 3,500 words Introduction 200 Literature review 1,000 Methods 300 Findings 500 Discussion and implications for practice and 1,500 Conclusions hello sir/ madam actually i did not go to the aged care facility to observe residents. the main topic of my project is to evaluate dining experience – identifying useful measurement tools, tool for analysis, and opportunities for improvement. this project should be related to aged care residents and i am uploading my draft actually want i want to do in my project. 1 Master of Health Science – Aged Services ASD 4106 Dementia Project GUIDELINES FOR THE PROJECT REPORT A. WRITING Process There are five broadly defined stages in report preparation • gathering the data in your journal; • analysing and sorting the results; • outlining the report; • writing the rough draft; and, • revising and finalising the report. 1. GATHERING THE DATA This requires an orderly investigation and research approach to ensure data is gathered and collated in an effective manner. In gathering the data the author must have a clear view of the objectives, direction and general contents of the report to be prepared. Data should be recorded in your journal in an orderly manner to ease retrieval and use and comments on data should be made during the collection and collation phase to ensure the comments are current at the time of collection. 2. ANALYSING AND SORTING THE RESULTS Analysis and sorting of results also entails filtering the data to ensure that you have captured the information relevant to what you wish to communicate to the reader. Too much data can make the task extremely difficult for the author and the reader. As part of the data analysis the conclusions being reached should be noted for inclusion in the report. Writing a report without a clear understanding of the conclusion leads to reports that are disjointed convoluted and which do not necessarily link the analysis to the outcome. Conclusions are to be listed in order of importance to ensure that they are reported in the order in which the author wishes the reader to read them, i.e. most important to least important. 3. OUTLINING THE REPORT Before outlining the report it is beneficial to prepare a limiting sentence to define the report. This should include the subject, scope and purpose. A report outline should be logical, well laid out and organised, concise and readable, i.e. how can the results be best presented to gain the attention of the reader and if required their endorsement for the outcome being sought. The outline should contain descriptive headings that are both significant and relevant to the report, for example, 2 • Summary/Abstract/Overview • Introduction • Literature review • Matters under Review • Analysis • Findings • Conclusion • Recommendations • Appendices • References The above headings are only samples and will vary according to the type and content of each report. The text of the report may be contained in the report under the headings shown below, with the exception of the Summary/Abstract, Appendices and References. 4. THE ROUGH DRAFT Students should not expect to write the report in its final version at the first attempt. It is at this stage that you carefully review your journal to ensure that you capture important information in your report (including limitations) Write down thoughts and essential findings and conclusions in the draft report as they occur. The second, third and fourth review of the rough draft entails reviewing the writing style, sequence and flow as well as reviewing the report from the reader’s viewpoint. At all times the author must keep in mind that the purpose of the report is to gain the reader’s attention and support for the findings, conclusion and recommendations contained in the report. 5. REVISING AND FINALISING THE REPORT Revising and finalising a report is about appearance, validity and readability. By the final revision the contents should be tested against the following criteria: • Material in the journal; • the validity of the conclusions; • sufficient information given to support the conclusions; • sufficient background information given to explain the results; • all irrelevant information excluded; and • are the tables, illustrations and appendices relevant? Organisation of the information and layout: • Is the subject and purpose clearly stated; • does the report flow smoothly from section to section; • are the relationships between sections clear; • are tables, illustrations and referencing clear and properly notated; and • is the report complete? Readability, spelling, grammar and expression; • is the report easy and pleasant to read; • has the report been checked for spelling mistakes; 3 • is the paragraph numbering correct; • is the referencing correct; • are there any paragraphs too long, too wordy or that use jargon or complicated sentences when a more simple sentence will do and • has somebody other than the author read the report? B. Writing the REPORT INTRODUCTION The introduction makes clear the precise purpose and subject matter as well as what is being considered. The introduction should clearly let the reader know what to expect in the body of the report. The primary functions of the introduction are: • identify the subject; • outline the purpose of the report; and • the method and layout of the report. One of the key features of the introduction is to decisively and quickly capture the attention and interest of the reader and focus the reader on the content and purpose of the report. The introduction should be approximately 10% of the total word count or less. Background evidence and literature review Once your problem/subject area has been identified, then a background search of the literature is required to provide the evidence base for your project. This should be no more than 800 words. RESULTS AND ANALYSIS This section contains: • a statement of the problem; • a list of assumptions and any limitations; • a brief description of the general method of analysis; • the data collected; and • the findings or analysis. Analysis and findings can be reported separately or at the end of each section of the data collection and collation. The findings are an integral part of the basis for the conclusions drawn in the report so the findings need to be clear, accountable, and understandable to the reader and a direct result of the data analysis detailed in the report. 4 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS The conclusion and the recommendations are the elements of the report of most interest to the reader. Indeed the reader may read these sections first and depending on the outcome of that initial review of the report may or may not be interested in reading the entire report. As a result, the conclusions should be clear, pertinent and relevant to the topic of the report and the recommendations should be a logical extension of the conclusions, which reflect the findings and analysis contained in the report. Ensure that what is contained in the conclusion is the most significant information resulting from the analysis and findings and avoid including irrelevant or insignificant information. Conclusions are not findings, but an opinion formed as a result of the findings. No new data should be introduced at the conclusion stage. The recommendations are the author’s suggestions resulting from the body of the report encapsulated in the conclusion. Recommendations are your suggestions about how the problem can be resolved. Since the author’s sole purpose is to gain the reader’s support for these recommendations, the author needs to ensure that the recommendations, like the conclusions are ranked in order of importance and there is a clear link between the findings, conclusion and recommendations. REFERENCES Reference sources and authorities for facts and information contained in the report are to be acknowledged and references identified. The role of Referencing: • Indicates work pertinent to the subject; • Acknowledges the work of others; • Reduces repetition of established information; • Provides support for assumptions and views; and • Provides a comparison for the findings and outcomes of the report. Appropriate referencing is to be used. APA 5th Ed. or Harvard Style is recommended for this post graduate program. Information on referencing styles is available on the library website. All referencing must be consistent with the style. SUMMARY/OVERVIEW/ABSTRACT The executive summary/overview/abstract is completed at the conclusion of the report and is an abstract/abridged version of the introduction, conclusion and recommendations. Some paragraphs can be allocated to methodology; however, the abstract is to provide a potential reader with an insight into the key issues of the report. Once again the abstract sells the report to the reader and captures the reader’s interest to read the report. The abstract should be approximately 250 words or less at the front of the report. 5 APPENDICES Appendices contain supporting information and information too bulky to include in the body of the report. Appendices must have titles if there is more than one. Appendices may also be written by authors other than the author of the report and if so should be mentioned in the introduction. In addition, the appendices may contain tables, graphs and data relevant to the report, and are too large or complex to include in the body of the report. The following forms are appended: FORM A Proposal Performa Form (available electronically upon request FORM B Your Reflective Journal should include: 1. citations for sources of information e.g. web sites, journals and books; 2. your thoughts on how this information links to theory you have discovered while undertaking the HMSA program. 3. notes from interviews, meetings, general discussions; 4. a record of communications with staff, residents and others; 5. descriptions of, and reflection on, critical incidents or inquiries; 6. critique- your thoughts on how these field observations link to theory that you are developing as a result of point 2 above and apply to the workplace (points 3-5). 7. an ongoing reflexive summary of your experience, observations and progress towards meeting person and project objectives. C. REPORT STYLE The style of the report is about its readability and how the report sells its contents. A report should be: • clear; • concise; • flow logically; • be objective; and • lead to a logical outcome. The clarity of a report must always be from the reader’s viewpoint. As a result, having a report read by a nontechnical person and/or one that represents the audience targeted by the author as part of the final polishing of the report is essential. Clarity can be compromised by inappropriate use of subjective language, jargon, use of complicated data and not keeping to the point. Readers who are confused or bored will not read the report and the objective of successfully convincing the reader of what the author is trying to say will be lost. 6 The report should contain the fewest words, data and illustrations etc. necessary to achieve the outcome. Report quality is often inversely related to the report’s length. Readers are interested in the conclusion and supporting data and will read the full report, if they are captured by what is presented. Reports must be objective and honest. Deficiencies in the report or contra findings should be noted for the reader’s benefit. Some Key Issues to Keeping the Reader’s Interest are: • write naturally using words and phrases that are natural and are used in every day usage; • guide the reader to the points you are making by telling the reader what you plan to tell them in the introduction then deliver in the text and the conclusion; • get to the point as quickly as possible whilst developing a robust reporting process; • emphasise the key issues for the ease of the reader; • ensure opinion and fact are clearly distinguishable; • avoid the use of overly complex graphs, data tables etc; and • add non essential but valuable information via appendices D. PRESENTATION OF PROJECT REPORT • The expectation is that the Project Report will be word processed/typed, double-spaced and with 4cm margins on all sides to allow for examiner comments. The Project Report should not exceed 3,000 words. • The Project Report should be stapled together and placed in a plastic sleeve (elaborate binders are costly to mail and not necessary). • Divide your report into sections, with a title page and table of contents. Use headings and subheadings as required. • Any material developed by the student for the project, and extracts from the log if necessary, should be appended at the back of the report. • Where copies of documentation from the agency are attached, give acknowledgment to the source. • Referencing should meet the guidelines of APA or Harvard style. E. AUTHOR’S CHECKLIST To aid in evaluating the report the author should subject the report to the following review prior to release: • Is the purpose and the scope of the report clearly stated; • has the purpose been fulfilled; • does the introduction give the information needed to understand the results, and are the assumptions clearly defined; • did the author say what they wanted to say; • are the important results ranked in importance and clear; • are any limitations clearly stated; • is the importance of the findings, conclusion and recommendations clearly presented; and • will the author win the reader in regard to the presentation, style and content of the report? A further checklist to assist the author is as follows: • Is the title 120 characters or less; 7 • has the author included an abstract, introduction, findings, conclusion and recommendations; • has the appropriate style guide been used and the correct referencing applied; • are the conclusions based on the analysis and findings section of the report; • are the correct tables, references and appendices included and notated? • do the appendices have titles; and • has the report been proof-read for spelling, expression and grammar as well as readability and reader friendliness? 2. 1 1. Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? Introduction In this chapter you will explore the features of critical thinking and how it contributes to your professional awareness and practice. You will begin to understand that critical thinking is essentially a questioning, challenging approach to knowledge and perceived wisdom. You will understand that critical thinking involves examining ideas and information from an objective position and questioning this information in the light of your own values, attitudes and personal philosophy. What is critical thinking? Critical thinking is essentially a questioning, challenging approach to knowledge and perceived wisdom. It involves examining ideas and Learning outcomes Having worked through this chapter you should be better able to understand: • what critical thinking is; • why critical thinking is important; • what the process of critical thinking is; • how your own values and attitudes impact upon your critical thinking; • why critical thinking is important to your own professional and personal development. CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:26 Page 1 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 information from an objective position and then questioning this information in the light of our own values, attitudes and personal philosophy. It is essential that within the process of critical thinking the writer substantiates the stance they have taken by providing evidence about the issue they are discussing in such a way that their judgements are seen as secure and verified. This chapter explores some of the key principles of critical thinking, to increase your awareness of it and help you to develop analytical and critical skills. Critical thinking is the ability to think about your own thinking in such a way as to: • recognise its strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, • re-present the thinking in an improved form. To do so you need the ability to be: • willing to question your views; • open-minded to the ideas and views of others – just because something is in print, it does not mean it is true; • able to give your (positive and negative) judgements; • able to explore the implications of the evidence/literature; • self-confident enough to explore the evidence presented; • honest in facing one’s own biases/prejudices; • flexible in considering alternatives and opinions; • willing to reconsider and revise views where honest reflection suggests that change is warranted. You also need to be somewhat wary and even sceptical of: • statements of ‘fact’ where the point is made obvious and needs no further discussion (i.e. ‘It is perfectly obvious that . . .’); • unsubstantiated comments; • unbalanced arguments; Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 2 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 • bias (whether political, personal or professional); • anecdotal evidence; • credibility of sources. Understanding critical thinking A great deal of what is taught in a university environment is theory and not fact. Although based on factual evidence, the majority of thinking is conclusions that writers and researchers have drawn from their analysis of relevant data. Writers and researchers suggest ideas about what is going on in the world and then research evidence to support or challenge these ideas. In fact, academic debate is founded on an exchange of ideas or theories. If one person puts forward an idea or theory, then other people will often put forward alternatives. When you as a student writer/researcher enter a debate, you become part of this ongoing discussion contributing to the body of knowledge surrounding the issue under discussion. For example, Piaget and Donaldson’s views differ on how children develop. On the one hand, Piaget proposed that children’s thinking does not develop entirely smoothly. Instead, there are certain points at which it ‘takes off’ and moves into completely new areas and capabilities. Piaget saw these transitions as taking place at about 18 months, 7 years and 11 or 12 years. This has been taken to mean that before these ages children are not capable (no matter how bright) of understanding concepts and/or ideas in certain ways. Piaget’s proposal has been used as the basis for scheduling the school curriculum. On the other hand, Donaldson’s theory focuses on the concept of embedded and disembedded thinking. Thinking that is embedded or placed in a familiar context makes ‘human’ sense and is more easily understood by children who are able to reason with it. When children are asked to do something outside their limits of human sense – that is, when something is unfamiliar or unrealistic – their thinking is disembedded and it fails to make sense. Donaldson challenged Piaget’s theory of children having a ceiling on their thinking. She encouraged practitioners to seek out what children are able to do rather than focusing on the things they cannot do. She believed that in order to educate young children effectively, practitioners must decentre and try to present things from a child’s point of view. What this means for you is that, while there is often a dominant prevailing viewpoint on a particular issue, there will be alternative viewpoints that you can explore and analyse through literature. You can always find alternative viewpoints if you look hard enough. Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 3 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 3 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 To reiterate, critical thinking is the ability to think about your own thinking in such a way that you recognise its strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, reconsider your viewpoint and reconstruct your thinking in an improved form. To be able to do this it is necessary to be willing to question your own views and be open-minded to the ideas and views of others. You also need to be confident enough to recognise that just because something is in print does not mean it is true. Why is critical thinking important? If you are able to challenge others’ ideas in this way it enables you to make your own judgements, which in turn improves your self-confidence in exploring any evidence or literature and its implications. Some of the most important skills you will need to learn as an education student are the ability to think both critically and objectively about an issue and present a well-constructed argument. Critical and analytical thinking skills such as these will be essential to most aspects of your study, whether you are listening to lectures, contributing to seminars or reading about your subject. This chapter mainly focuses on critical analysis for written work as nothing gains or loses marks on assignments more than the quality of the written argument. Argument here does not mean disagreement; it simply means presenting a strong case to support a point of view. You do not have to be an argumentative person to do this. On the contrary, good critical writing means using reason and evidence to support your point. However, essential to any analysis is the ability to be honest about your own biases and prejudices, flexible in considering alternatives and opinions, and willing to reconsider and revise views where honest reflection suggests that change is warranted. You also need to cultivate a healthy scepticism of: statements which begin with ‘It is obvious that. . .’; arguments which are unsubstantiated and unbalanced; and arguments which have a particular political, professional or anecdotal bias (as opposed to researched evidence). You also need to verify the source of any research/literature you are considering. Two common problems can lead to confusion when thinking critically about a subject: ambiguity and subjectivity. Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 4 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 5 Ambiguity A word is ambiguous if it has several different meanings. ‘Partnership’, for example, might specifically refer to a legally binding collaboration between two or more people. More generally, it may mean co-operation between interested stakeholders in a particular project. In education it can be interpreted as regarding parents as co-educators of their children. In a broader sense it can be understood as a partnership between investors in the education system, such as national government, local government and perhaps even business. So collaboration can be a partnership in one of these senses but not in another. Consulting with parents at parent evenings and providing information to those parents could be seen by some as a partnership and by others as paying lip service to that partnership. The word ‘partnership’ on its own could refer to any of these types of partnerships. Therefore, unless the context makes it clear which meaning is intended, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between them. Subjectivity Problems of subjectivity arise when, even once all ambiguity has been removed from a term, people still disagree about its meaning. The concept of a partnership with parents, for example, is a very subjective one. Two people may agree precisely about what that partnership is (e.g. they may agree that it is dialogue between teachers and parents), but disagree about the depth of involvement both parties should have. The depth of the involvement will be influenced by personal philosophy and values. For example, one person may see parents as the initial educators of their children and people who have a legitimate stakehold in their children’s future, whereas another person may disagree, believing the ‘professionals’ are the people with the information which has to be shared with the other interested partners. These examples show that even when a concept is clearly understood and agreed by all parties, there are differences in the application of the concept due to its subjective nature. At the heart of critical thinking (and, indeed, critical reading and writing) is the notion of ‘objectivity’. Being objective means that you read, write and think without bias, take into account all the facts and possible explanations and draw on available evidence. Expressing personal opinions, on the other hand, is a subjective endeavour. However, personal opinions can become more objective if you subject them to rigorous questioning. CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 5 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 For the above practical task: • Make a list of the words you removed or changed to make the statement less subjective. • What type of words were these? Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 During a seminar James suggested that some parents, especially those from deprived backgrounds, have little understanding of the needs of their children and are unable to make appropriate judgements. Megan asked him on what evidence he was basing this statement. James realised that what he had said was very subjective. Try to reword James’s statement to make it less subjective. One possible version is: Class differences in educational achievement have persisted since the 1950s. J.W.B. Douglas (1964) argued that the key to higher achievement was parental interest and that middle-class parents were more interested in education than their working-class peers. However, Blackstone and Mortimer in 1994 argued that, because of their own experiences, working-class parents did not feel as confident about dealing with schools as their middle-class peers. Practical task Reflective task CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 6 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 7 Critical analysis Critical analysis is the key feature tutors/lecturers are looking for in your assignments. It involves thinking about issues and evaluating them. It is sometimes interpreted by students as the opposite of just describing something, but it is much more than that. Instead of describing, offer objective explanations, evidence and evaluation for why certain things are Subjectivity and objectivity a) • Select a copy of a professional journal or newspaper. • Read the editorial or readers’ comments section. • Try to identify the words that make the section emotive and/or opinionated, perhaps by underlining these words. Some examples of subjective vocabulary, phrases, clauses and statements are: • emotive language (e.g. shaven-headed thug, work-shy, troublemaker); • stereotypes and generalisations (e.g. tea-drinking English, famineravaged Africa, youth, the elderly, the disabled); • persuading words and phrases (e.g. surely, obviously, as everyone knows). b) • Now read an article from the same journal or newspaper. • Compose your own list of the differences in the language and presentation. Practical task CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 7 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 8 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 said or done. It is also important that you relate theory to practice both as a trainee teacher and as a student of education. Critical analysis is derived from two words. ‘Critical’ comes from the Greek ‘kriticos’, meaning to discern and separate [the issues]. ‘Analysis’ comes from the French ‘analyser’, meaning to undo. Objectivity means standing back and weighing the evidence even if you disagree with something. You can remain objective by examining the positive and negative aspects of all issues, evaluating a selection of different theories on issues and using the third person instead of first person. However, as a great deal of your writing (particularly as a trainee teacher or educational practitioner) will involve reflecting upon and analysing your own practice, you will write predominantly in the first person. Examples written in the first person: I think this happens because. . .; In my opinion… Example written in the third person: The evidence suggests this happens because… Good critical analysis is not simply about writing. It is also about thinking critically. Before you start any assignment, you need to be clear about your focus. At university this usually means thinking critically about the requirements of the assignment. Writing academic discourses involves using critical thinking skills to analyse a problem or issue. Imagine that you have to write an essay in which you are to analyse an issue and explain your view. This requires critical thinking skills. Critical thinking and analysis in assignment writing How do you know what is expected of you when you start to write an assignment? The following suggestions are essential if you are to understand any assignment brief: • Read your programme/course handbook. • Read your unit/module handbooks. (They are your starting point for thinking about what is expected of you in assignments.) CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 8 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 • Look at the key skills you are required to develop. • Find the page that tells you how to set out your assignments. • Read the learning objectives for your weekly sessions at university. • Define the performance level descriptors. • Answer the following questions: ‘What am I learning on this module/programme?’ and ‘How can I show this in my assignments?’ • Do not wait until your first assignment deadline is near. Start thinking ahead! In order to answer your assignment question fully, you need to analyse the demands of the question. Assignment questions contain direction words. Verbs are crucial in telling you how you should answer the question. It is vital that you understand these as they help you to formulate analysis and discussion in your assignments. Below are some definitions, but there are many more of these in study guides. Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 9 Some definitions of examples of vocabulary used in assignment titles and examination questions Vocabulary Explanations Account for Give reasons for Analyse Break an issue or problem into parts and discuss each part objectively, giving a variety of arguments and evidence. Argue Support or reject a position by presenting reasons and evidence for and against each position. Comment on Use evidence to explain why something is or is not important. Compare Show the way things are alike and explain why. Contrast Show the way things are not alike and explain why. Critically Objectively give your judgement about whether something evaluate is important or not important, relevant or irrelevant or effective or ineffective. Give examples and evidence for your reasons. CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 9 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 You will often be given a list of factors to consider in your assignment guidelines. Do not assume this is a ready-made plan. Sometimes the list is not in any particular order and is only there to guide you. Try cutting the list up and moving the points around to help you make a structured plan. If in doubt, check with your tutor. An assignment brief Critically examine the key values underpinning a multi-professional approach to the Every Child Matters agenda in educational establishments. Illustrate your discussion with reference to specific aspects of practice. Tips • Highlight the direction words (e.g. ‘critically examine’ and ‘illustrate’) in one colour. • Highlight other key words (e.g. ‘values’, ‘multi-professional’ and ‘practice’) in different colours. • Brainstorm on paper or use a software package such as Inspiration to help you map your ideas (e.g. list all the agencies who might impact on a child’s life and the values which you consider are important such as confidentiality). • Rewrite the question in your own words (e.g. ‘Examine in a critical manner the central issues which I understand make multi-professional Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 Define Give the precise meaning or offer different meanings for the same thing. Discuss Investigate by looking at all sides of the issue(s). Evaluate/ Decide how valuable, important or effective something is assess or is not. Address any weaknesses. Explain Give reasons for why something does or does not happen. Illustrate Use clear examples and/or case studies to explain something. Outline Give the main features, principles, events, etc. Adapted from Assignment Guidance, Edgehill University Faculty of Education CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 10 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 working important in providing for and protecting children, making reference to any practice I might have observed.’) to help you understand it. • Try to break the question down (e.g. ‘What is a multi-professional approach?’, ‘What is the Every Child Matters agenda?’, ‘What are educational establishments?’ and ‘What are the key values?’). Planning your assignments • Break down the question. • Brainstorm. • Read your course notes. • Do your extra research. • Allocate words to each section. • Do an outline plan. • Draft, re-draft, and edit. • Proofread! Below is a worked example which demonstrates the stages a student undertook when answering the following assignment. Critically examine the education professional’s role in promoting language diversity in the classroom. In particular, consider the issues related to the immersion/bilingualism debate. Provide a detailed analysis of how children who have English as an additional language can be supported in their learning, making reference to a child or group of children you have worked with in school or nursery. Here are four steps that helped the student in thinking through their answer: Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 11 Worked example CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 11 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 (These do not make a definitive model but are one way of approaching the task.) 1. Identify your initial view and why you hold it. Writing out your initial ideas will help clarify your thoughts. To do this you must read critically in order to identify and explore the evidence within the literature. For example: a) You would start from your own experiences and knowledge base such as any classroom experiences you may have had. Below are the student’s initial thoughts as they started this assignment: Last year I worked in a nursery which had a large proportion of children who had been in the country for less than a year. Because their English was so limited and they struggled with what they were asked to do, I thought it would have been a good idea to withdraw these children from working and playing with their peers and be given small group tuition in English. b) Below is a selection of resources which the student read and accessed to increase knowledge and understanding of the central issue: Crosse, K. (2007) Introducing English as an additional language to young children: a practical handbook. London: Heinemann. Scott, C. (2008) Teaching children English as an additional language. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd. Editorial Team Teachernet, last updated May 2007, available at www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearninglibrary/EALteaching, accessed January 2009. 2. Seek other views and more evidence. Make sure you examine all sides, especially those that are contrary to your ideas or what you have observed in, for example, your practice. Consult people who have expertise in the topic. For example: After reading Gregory (1997), I realised the disadvantages in withdrawing children from their English-speaking peers. Instead I now believe that it would be much better to focus on speaking and listening learning Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 12 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 experiences which included all the children to enable the non-English speakers to learn from their peers as well as adults. 3. Evaluate the evidence using valid criteria, which will be determined by your framework of evaluation. Construct a chart with points that are in agreement and disagreement. Then compare these with your initial view. Present evidence to support your discussion/argument. For example: You will now need to read some specific texts to help you reflect on the appropriateness of your initial views of: ‘speaking and listening experiences which would enable the non-English speakers to learn from their peers as well as their teachers’ Editorial Team Teachernet, last updated May 2007, available at www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingandlearning/library/EALteaching, accessed January 2009. Gregory, E. (1997) One child, many worlds: early learning in multicultural communities. London: David Fulton. Hall, D. (1995) Assessing the needs of bilingual pupils: living in two languages. London: David Fulton. Judge, B.C. (2003) Chapter 9 in Crawford, K, (ed) Contemporary Issues in education: an introduction. Dereham: Peter Francis. Porter, B. (2004) Understanding each other: supporting children with English as an additional language (EAL) in early years settings. Chester: Cheshire County Council. 4. Construct a balanced argument. Your challenge is to develop a response you consider the most logical in the light of the evidence available to you. This will be a synthesis of the information you have researched from multiple perspectives and your initial ideas on the issue. Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 13 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 13 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? 14 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 30 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 40 1 2 311 An example of how to record a balanced argument to inform your discourse Withdrawal from English-speaking Working alongside English-speaking peers peers Resource Argument Resource Argument Judge B Inclusion means that all pupils should be offered the same opportunities and that true integration enables children to learn from one another. Summary of key points Define the problem carefully and completely. Listen to and investigate all sides of an issue. Be willing to change a position when shown reasons and evidence. Seek alternative solutions in an attempt to choose the best solution. Realise that the best is not the same for everyone. Remain open to others’ values and opinions. Question and compare conflicting interpretations of data. Evaluate conclusions. CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 14 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education Students Account: s1145751 Critical thinking and critical analysis: why are they important? References and further reading Browne, M.N. and Keeley, S.M. (2009) Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking. Harlow: Pearson Education. Cottrell, S. (2005) Critical thinking skills. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Crosse, K. (2007) Introducing English as an additional language to young children: a practical handbook. Oxford: Heinemann. Donaldson, M. (1984) Children’s Minds. London: Fontana Douglas, J.W.B. (1964) The home and school. London: MacGibbon and Kee. Gregory, E. (1997) One child, many worlds: early learning in multicultural communities. London: David Fulton. Hall, D. (1995) Assessing the needs of bilingual pupils: living in two languages. London: David Fulton. Judge, B.C. (2003) Chapter 9 in Crawford, K. (ed) Contemporary issues in education: an introduction. Dereham: Peter Francis. Piaget, J. (1972) The child’s conception of the world. Towota, NJ: Littlefield Adams. Porter, B. (2004) Understanding each other: supporting children with English as an additional language (EAL) in early years settings. Chester: Cheshire County Council. Scott, C. (2008) Teaching children English as an additional language. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd. Teacher Net Editorial Team (2007) www.teachernet.gov.uk/teachingand learninglibrary/EALteaching, accessed January 2009. 15 CRITICAL THINKING SKILLS PT.qxd 13/7/09 12:16 Page 15 Copyright © 2009. Learning Matters. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) – printed on 5/9/2013 11:27 PM via VICTORIA UNIVERSITY AN: 411701 ; Judge, Brenda, McCreery, Elaine, Jones, Patrick.; Critical Thinking Skills for Education note:- my project should be qualitative.

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