Hillcroft LRC

Critical Skills for Critical Brains

Posted on: March 4, 2016

Critical thinking booksStella Cottrell’s book Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Arguments is a guide that can take you from college to university. It helps you look at what you read in a different light by demonstrating and explaining how academic authors build up their arguments in their writing.

How does that help you? It will help you understand arguments and guides you into weighing up the logic of them. This will not only assist you in evaluating different authors’ opinions and theories but will also benefit you in developing your own writing style to convince your tutors of how you have assessed others’ work and built up your own arguments with persuasive evidence.

The book gets you to identify bias, hidden meanings and follow a line of reasoning to its logical conclusion. It’s not only useful for essay writing, reading and making notes from academic literature but is also invaluable for debating and any piece of writing or presentation where you would need to persuade your audience of your arguments.

Cottrell’s book gives you exercises to do to build up your skills of critique, analysis and argument. It’s one you can dip into time and time again. Having read it myself it’s easy to recognise that had a book like this existed when I was university it would have been a key to getting a top grade!

Palgrave who publish the book also have a free companion website area Critical Thinking which sits under their useful Study Skills website.

If you’re just starting your studies then the Pocket Guide by Kate Williams called Getting Critical is a good starter guide and similarly advises on reading with a critical eye and developing your writing skills so you are analytical too. We also have another Critical Thinking guide by Debra Hills. Hills’s guide gives you a definition and takes you through the steps in the process of reading and writing critically and has a number of tips on using sources, note taking and planning your answers.

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