Blog Post: Critical Writing

Gerald Nosich
Dec 10, 2019 • 169d ago
Critical Writing

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Some background: I am finishing a book on "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Writing: Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking to Write a Paper"},{"insert":". It will be published by Rowman and Littlefield, probably in Fall, 2020.  The following is adapted from an earlier draft of the book.]\n \nAn initial and crucial early step in writing a paper is to come up with the main thing you will be trying to say in it, often called a “thesis statement” (or sometimes just “thesis.”)  Usually the topic or idea a student starts with is an extremely general one.  A challenge then is, starting with a vague, unfocused topic, to find a specific, crisp, plausible thesis statement. Books on writing recommend a number of ways of finding a thesis statement. Usually they suggest brainstorming, or clustering ideas together, or free writing. Though these may sometimes result in a well-defined thesis, they are at best hit-or-miss.  They work by associative thinking, by letting ideas pop into your head, and—for students, often—waiting for inspiration to come and hoping for the best.\n\tOne of the great benefits of critical thinking is that allows people to construct a paper starting with even a very general and unpromising topic. The book recommends beginning the process by analyzing the topic by using the elements of reasoning. Refer to “the Wheel of Reason” in the Critical Thinking Academy section.\n\tIn the following example, a student in a writing course (call her Alyssa) decides to write a paper on the role of scientific thinking in our lives. [Note how extremely general, unfocused and unpromising that is as a topic.]  Alyssa is not a science major.  She is a first-year student, and the only college-level course she’s taken in the sciences was an introductory level course in general science for non-majors. Still, she did well in the course, and she found it interesting and different from what she expected.  She recognizes that she doesn’t have an in-depth knowledge of any of the sciences, but she decides that by writing a paper about it for her writing course, she can increase her knowledge and develop her thinking about it.\n\tThe invitation here is to put yourself in the mind of Alyssa.  As much as you can, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"be"},{"insert":"Alyssa. (This is an exercise in practicing intensive intellectual empathy with her.)  Take her topic—the role of scientific thinking in our lives—and analyze it around the circle of elements as she might do it. \n\tIn a later blog, you will be able to see Alyssa’s own analysis around the circle. Be sure to write out your own analysis before looking at hers. You can then compare yours to hers. Your analysis, of course, will be quite different.  Your own creativity, criticality and background knowledge will come into yours.  The goal at this point is to analyze an overly general topic using the elements of reasoning, and to do so as a student would.\nStill later blogs will lay out how critical thinking can help a student proceed from this topic through the other parts of writing a paper (not necessarily an excellent paper, but a clear, accurate, specific, relevant paper).\n"}]}


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Posted by: saira bano

{"ops":[{"insert":"1.   How does critical thinking benefit problem solving? Your discussion should include the various facets of critical thinking such as: \n \n•      curiosity \n•      assumptions \n•      perspectives \n•      ways of thinking \nwant to know about this?\n\n1.   What is the purpose of critical thinking in a workplace or an academic context? \n \n \n2.   Discuss two different academic research strategies from the list below: \n\n"}]}