Thinking critically : a look at students' critiques of a research article
Leong, Ping Alvin
Date of Issue2013
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The ability to reason, analyse, and evaluate issues critically is a valued skill, and ranks highly in the list of attributes expected of graduates. Much has been written about the importance and application of critical thinking in various domains, but studies on the actual manifestation of such skills in students’ writing have attracted only modest interest. Even less has been written about critiques in relation to critical thinking. This study sought to investigate the form and nature of issues raised by 119 second-year biology undergraduates in their critiques of the introduction section of a research article. The study revealed that the vast majority of students tended to raise surface issues in their critiques, focusing on visible textual features such as rhetorical structure and language-related issues. The minority who raised depth issues addressed the arguments used in the reading and their significance. In light of the skewed results, a two-stage process — involving (1) summary writing, and (2) the use of evaluative criteria and the Toulmin model as an overarching framework — is recommended to enhance the teaching of critical thinking within the curriculum. This study offers a glimpse into the outcomes of critical thinking, as represented by the students’ critiques. It provides a bottom-up approach to our understanding of the issues raised by students in a task centred on critical thinking, and so focuses our attention on specific areas for further consideration or remediation.
Linguistics and Multilingual Studies
Higher Education Research & Development
© 2013 HERDSA. This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in Higher Education Research & Development, published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of HERDSA. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2012.708322].