Hillcroft LRC

Posts Tagged ‘critical thinking

"Well-behaved women seldom make history"I’ve been watching the BBC’s ‘Versailles’ series on iPlayer which has lead me to Google whether it or not some things actually happened or were dramatised versions of events. Changing history. Humanity likes to gloss over the past or adjust it to make it more palatable or suit the agenda of the present (in ‘Versailles’ case – to entertain). This happens most famously in George Orwell‘s 1984 on an industrial scale:

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” – George Orwell, ‘1984’.

Women have been left out of much of history (and quotations). Things are changing as there are more books and articles written by and focusing on women who have changed the world. That’s why first-hand accounts and primary sources are so vital for historians to re-examine the past.

Here’s an authoritative list of history websites compiled by Oxford Quick Reference to accompany the Oxford Dictionary of World History:

http://www.oxfordreference.com/page/worldhist

You’ll also find women feature prominently in our print biographies and main collection.

Don’t discount your skills in investigating inaccuracies and overlooked facts and figures – they are not confined to the classroom. It is more important to use your critical thinking skills in everyday life, in reading the news and participating in society. Seeing connections, questioning potential bias, probing the facts and respecting evidence. Women can change history in a good way starting with you and me.

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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.

Brainstorm on paperIt’s already midway through January 2016! Have you got more resolutions than ever to fulfill but no idea where to start? We’ve got some handy books to help you be more productive and achieve in academic and personal goals.

How about learning better ways to brainstorm or create lists? Check out: ‘How to get your own way‘ by Craig Shrives and Paul Easter. They also look at developing an argument and common fallacies. These ideas would be useful in essay-writing, presentations and everyday life. It is great when you can apply knowledge to different tasks and situations. There is also a good chapter looking at statistics and how numbers can be used to alter our perceptions.

If you want everyday psychological tools you could borrow ‘The Tools‘ by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels. They give you methods to combat negativity, worry and lack of confidence. Tips and tricks learnt through self-improvement books (aka ‘shelf-help’) can impact on many aspects of life, not least education.

DBanned Books logoid you know that books can be requested to be taken off the open shelves of schools, bookshops and libraries? Books are banned for political and social reasons. Books can convey powerful messages and change people’s minds. In extreme cases, books can spread corrupt and poisonous ideas to vulnerable people who may carry out terrible actions in consequence. However, what makes an idea corrupt or poisonous is subjective. This week the world has been celebrating the freedom to read books no matter their subject. Here’s a list of frequently challenged books including:

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini challenged for “Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence.”

Persepolis, by Marjane Satrap challenged for “gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

Both of these are critically acclaimed works and have demanding subjects which should be tackled with care and insight by the reader. Perhaps you would like to borrow and read these works from the LRC and write a balanced review for the catalogue to help others tackle them too. The key is to reflect and weigh up the arguments and ideas of authors for yourself – that’s what makes reading interesting!

Cite Them RightAt the beginning of this autumn term we are running two trials on Palgrave Macmillan study skills software to help our students study better. The first one is Cite Them Right Online – an online version of the Richard Pears and Graham Shields book which guides students and researchers on how to reference different materials using various referencing systems. Here we use Harvard and the book is great for describing how to reference everything from an ebook, to tutor/lecture notes to graffiti. The online version includes tips to help students work out how to reference, practice their skills and get tips on how to avoid plagiarism.

The second trial is for Skills4studycampus which helps students get back into studying, assess their skills and pick up areas where they need to put in effort. There are a number of modules covering everything from note taking to critical thinking, working in groups and time management. We’ve placed both on our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) so students and staff can access it easily. It’s based on the best selling Stella Cottrell book The Study Skills Handbook

This week the Learning Resources team have been inducting Preaccess students on referencing and we’ve been promoting the handy app on Harvard referencing created by the University of Lincoln. It’s available as a pdf document and its free to download on Googleplay for android/tablets and the Appstore for iOS devices.

Woman Studying

Before the Christmas break we ordered in copies of the Palgrave Pocket Study Skills books which are a set of dinky books helping students with:

  • reading and making notes
  • planning essays
  • writing
  • referencing and avoiding plagiarism
  • passing exams
  • doing search
  • studying with dyslexia
  • writing reports
  • thinking critically
  • managing time
  • working well in groups.

You can find them all listed on our Online Public Access Catalogue onsite and offsite.

What’s fantastic about these is you can buy audio formats of these books too. Visit the Palgrave Macmillan website for more information. We’d love to be able to offer this format to our students…

There’s also a host of useful information to help you study better oon the Palgrave Study Skills website.


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