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Critical thinking and reading - Skills Guide

Critical thinking and reading

What is critical thinking and reading?

We often receive feedback that we should ‘analyse our sources more deeply’, ‘read more widely’, ‘compare and contrast’, ‘analyse rather than describe’, ‘use evidence to support your statements’. These (and many other) phrases all relate to critical thinking and reading, which is the ability to consume information, understand it (and it’s context), think about it’s deeper meaning, evaluate and analyse it, and apply it.

Critical thinking is about having the ability to think critically. When we use the term ‘critical’ we don’t mean it’s about thinking negatively or criticising something. It’s about assessing and weighing up all the evidence available to you in an organised and rational way, to come to a considered, reasonable judgement that can stand up to scrutiny or argument. 

Why do I need to learn it?

When you are studying at university, it is important that you don’t take anything at face value and accept it without question – even things your lecturers say! Always question and look deeper – the ability to question and critique information you come across in life is a vital skill, not just to avoid dangerous misinformation but to help you develop a deeper knowledge and understanding. 

Learning to read and think critically can have a great deal of benefits:

  • You will feel better informed and more knowledgeable about the subject.
  • Your ability to work with complex concepts and present them in your work will improve.
  • The quality of your arguments in your work will improve.

How do I critically analyse

Use the critical thinking activities and resources linked on the left hand side of the page to get started. You can also watch or listen to the videos and podcasts linked on the left navigation panel, as they give you a good idea of what critical thinking is and how to develop your skills.

Critical Thinking Toolkit

The Critical Thinking Toolkit is a psychometric measure of your beliefs and attitudes about critical thinking. If you follow this link then you can complete the measure. It will give you feedback about your scores, and average responses to the different components of the questions. It also contains a further link that offers advice and strategies for being more critical in your assignments.