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PhD Chat - Critical Thinking

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'Critical thinking skills for PhD students.'


#phdchat tweet log - 25th May 2011


@NSRiazat - Topic tonight for #phdchat (7.30pm-8.30pm BST) 'Critical thinking skills for PhD students.'

@JaneDavis13 - @NSRiazat I am excelling in the art of being critical just now ... Oh, you mean academically?

@JaneDavis13 - Just received my copy of "The Discovery of Grounded Theory" (Glaser & Strauss) and can't wait to read it .. Critically of course

@NSRiazat - @JaneDavis13 How did Ofsted go? 'The Discovery of Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss) is a useful text.

@NSRiazat - How can you persuade/argue EFFECTIVELY in the final thesis? How do people recognise and define 'arguments'?

@LBA_OX12 - Have been inspired to buy Wallace & Wray's book on critical thinking after it was recommended on #phdchat last week

@gawbul - Lol! @scottwdavis: @NSRiazat Good topic for .. plenty of folks are critical of my thinking skills. :)

@ScholarAtLarge - Good evening everyone! Great topic. I for one struggle on border of normative/critical thinking when making arguments

@sarahthesheepu - @NSRiazat that is a useful question & relates to viva performance as well its not just what u say but HOW u say it

@drjavafox - @NSRiazat I went to a brilliant summer school & listened to other students' presentations, to get an idea of what an 'argument' is

@NSRiazat - Am skilled at finding the arguments...just go round in circles after that...need to be selective and recognise important arguments.

@drjavafox - @NSRiazat that summer school literally saved my PhD. I also learned it's okay to talk to fellow students.

@SavvyOD - @ScholarAtLarge What do you mean by "normative?"

@NSRiazat - Agree @drjavafox listening to other phd students present work is a great way to see if you are swayed by their reasoning/argument.

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat See if propositions and hypotheses are logically supported in the text. Make sure constructs are well-defined.

@C_J_Cage - Even Wikipedia seems unsure about the definition of critical thinking:

@NSRiazat - @sarahthesheepu My supervisor (@Janshs) says the same - not what you say but HOW you say it. :-)

@ScholarAtLarge - @SavvyOD 'normative' as in factual....as if I am simply retelling something and acknowledging it instead of critically engaging

@SavvyOD - my professor just told me Assertion + Evidence = Critical Thinking. I always try to remember that when I'm writing.

@drjavafox - @NSRiazat 1 of my primary arguments was circular... I didn't know what that meant & had to find out myself.

@laurapasquini - Research Skills required by PhD students, as defined by the UK Research Councils http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloudscape/view/2014

@NSRiazat - Good point @C_J_Cage ~ think 'critical thinking' means different things 2 different students in the context of their thesis themes.

@ScholarAtLarge - Good Formula. RT @SavvyOD: my professor just told me Assertion + Evidence = Critical Thinking.

@AndreaZellner - as a former writing teacher, often took Law & Order approach: assertion, evidence, address counterargument.

@SavvyOD - So how do we develop our thinking so that we are really critically thinking through the subject and not just retelling the story?

@NSRiazat - What does 'critical thinking mean to you? For me it's arguing, explaining and summarising as opposed to simply 'listing' thoughts.

@laurapasquini - I think it's also important to consider the definition of Critical Thinking http://bit.ly/jQUkAd How do you define it?

@nurcanileri - I think I need to know a lot to write in a critical manner, but feel confused about how to present it.

@AndreaZellner - as a student, I try to remember to situate myself in larger theoretical conversation. I get excited and forget.

@C_J_Cage - I'm a big fan of diagrams - linking your thought processes and identifying gaps

@laurapasquini - For me, critical thinking implies analysis and synthesis of information to make connections between ideas, theories and constructs.

@drjavafox - 'Critical thinking' to me means (among other things) telling why I like/don't like their argument.

@LBA_OX12 - Critical thinking = 2 dimensions - analysing UR reading & using in Ur writing?

@nurcanileri - @NSRiazat absolutely right, the author's voice needs to be heard!

@scottwdavis - Critical thinking should involve a thorough literature review so that contrary evidence, disputes, and gaps can be addressed.

@C_J_Cage - For me Critical Thinking is where you engage with the material - show how it links into your understanding/argument - +ve or -ve

@lizith - What does 'critical thinking mean to you? For me I think it has to do with engagement with the conceptual frameworks

@SavvyOD - My problem w/ CT is that I often don't know enough to really have an argument, one way or the other.

@allonsdanser - @NSRiazat I'm working on developing these skills right now. Argue, explain, summarize.

@merry30 - @SavvyOD Ditto. Or I THINK I don't know enough to really have an argument...

@ScholarAtLarge - i'm always afraid of just retelling the same overall story w/o applicability to my own writing when engaging with lit

@allonsdanser - @C_J_Cage I find mindmaps a good way to chart my thought progression through a topic. Makes it easy to elaborate on each item.

@C_J_Cage - One way is to find an article/argument you like/agree with then search for conflicting arguments to build your understanding  

@scottwdavis - Folks spend a lot of time providing evidence FOR arguments, but try arguing against them even if it doesn't make the manuscript.

@sarahthesheepu - @lizith for me it meant engaging with them and then looking at what their limitations are & arguing 4 alternatives or going beyond

@lizgloyn - @NSRiazat @drjavafox Also getting peers to read your work and see if they're swayed by *your* arguments - & what you need to add.

@SueFolley - @gawbul yeah I don't think critical thinking/writing comes naturally to me - it is a skill I am trying to develop :)

@laurapasquini - Critical thinking ... the L & O Approach. RT @AndreaZellner Law & Order approach: assertion, evidence, address counterargument.

@drjavafox - @lizith 'critical thinking' for me means arguing/telling what I do(n't) like/agree with about another's argument/assertion

@ClaretCarly - @gawbul @SueFolley Writing a manuscript helped me get better at synthesising & arguing because I had to summarise my thoughts

@C_J_Cage - @allonsdanser Yes mindmapping is a good way to see connections between thought threads

@drjavafox - I didn't think I was being 'critical', then told my supervisor why I wasn't using SO's theory & she said see? you're being critical

@laurapasquini - When do you apply your critical thinking skills the most? Research? Writing? Editing?

@lizgloyn - @NSRiazat t Outlining someone else's argument in your own words is a good way to engage critically & work through your own thoughts.

@scottwdavis - I watch visiting professors get ripped apart by our faculty and often wonder how they didn't consider the counterarguments raised.

@gawbul - @nurcanileri Me too! I tend to procrastinate with writing too much, whilst reading and trying to understand the whole picture

@NSRiazat - @C_J_Cage @allondanser ~ when I had the conceptual framework finally on a Excel document the connections became glaringly clear.

@SueFolley - @ClaretCarly what do you mean by a manuscript -do you mean a published paper? (sorry don't know what one is exactly)

@lizgloyn - Critical thinking is one of those buzz phrases that causes huge buzz words: everyone uses it, no one defines it.

@NSRiazat - Also hard to 'argue' with/against seasonsed experts/academics in the field...anyone?

@lizgloyn - First came across the problem in teaching; everyone says they want to teach critical thinking skills but don't say what that means.

@C_J_Cage - Yes, writing, presenting, getting your thoughts out into public, condensing them - makes you defend them!

@laurapasquini - True statement. RT @lizgloyn: Critical thinking is one of those buzz phrases...: everyone uses it, no one defines it.

@SavvyOD - There's also a fear of CT, that my "argument" may not make sense and I can't find evidence to back it up.

@ScholarAtLarge - practicing for my 1st year conference and running it by my supervisor helped me to clearly my critical thoughts on frameworks

@NSRiazat - I did that with my 'theoretical 'note-taking' whilst exploring the literature ~ helps to enagage with it @lizgloyn

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat If you're going to argue with tenured faculty, you'd better know the literature & authors' names or they will kill you!

@SueFolley - I think it takes a certain amount of confidence in what you are saying to be critical of other authors, esp experts

@lizgloyn - @scottwdavis This is where having a group of peers to circulate work around first helps to highlight objections compassionately.

@C_J_Cage - @NSRiazat Instead of arguing against seasoned academics myself I try and find other seasoned academics who have to draw on

@naomi_jacobs - @SavvyOD I feel this way too. I have lots of ideas, but it can be extremely difficult to evaluate their worth realistically.

@SueFolley - @ClaretCarly Thanks for clarifying and yes I can see that would be good practice as you are writing for a public audience

@drjavafox - @NSRiazat I used to be intimidated thinking that I was qualified to argue against eminent scholars, but now I relish the challenge!

@gawbul - @allonsdanser My supervisor always tells me to draw things out, to see the bigger picture! Perhaps I should start using mind maps!?

@allonsdanser - @NSRiazat Can't the argument take the form of a question? Argument sounds aggressive.

@scottwdavis - @lizgloyn Agreed. You've got to have a lot of eyes on your work before you defend it.

@SavvyOD - @SueFolley I agree Sue, especially since we're just beginning our research in the field.

@drjavafox - @NSRiazat I think I'm at that point where I am closer to being a PhD than when I began, so am feeling more at home w academics

@lizgloyn - @SueFolley Criticism should come from knowing you're contributing something new/important, not just for criticism's sake.

@C_J_Cage - My supervisor made me write write write before really had a clear idea,but think it really helped my Critical Thinking skills

@NSRiazat - @drjavafox agree - have to put own arguments/thoughts and thinking out there to assure others of credibility of research.

@scottwdavis - @allonsdanser @NSRiazat If the argument takes the form of a question, are you leaving it to an empirical study?

@allonsdanser - @gawbul Love mindmaps, but don't sweat the how-tos. Just draw what works for you.

@NSRiazat - @gawbul @C_J_Cage Rejoinders to academics by other academics is a great way to challenge and clarify thinking.

@JeffreyKeefer - I think about critical thinking from the perspective of Stephen Brookfield: the process to uncover and check assumptions

@NSRiazat - @allonsdanser ~ meant 'argument' as in clear and definitive 'chain of thought' not aggression...

@SueFolley - @gawbul cool - so do you intend to publish? :) I do think that will focus your attention :)

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis @allonsdaser ~ re: argument in form of question ~ depends on paradigms and methodology...thoughts?

@allonsdanser - @scottwdavis When challenging/arguing I was thinking use a question to introduce a different point.

@lizgloyn - Wd like to mention Rutgers' undergrad core learning goals - articulate products of critical thinking: http://bit.ly/iDvXFj [PDF]

@NPalopoli - Critical thinking is the ability to discern right from wrong, including reasons and trying to find out why, sometimes, you can't.

@lizgloyn - Obviously at the postgrad level you'd want more sophisticated products, but the application of skills helps clarify what CT means.

@gawbul - @laurapasquini I think equally so at all stages? Need to be critically focused during all stages!?

@ai1sa - @NSRiazat I totally agree, my methodology does not value being critical abut classical thesis seems to

@aeratcliffe - From Wallace and Wray, Argument = Conclusion + Warranting

@SueFolley - I think being critical is not just accepting something that is published is fact. You need to question and offer counter arguments

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat @allonsdaser Yes. In my field, it's ok to leave it as an empirical Q if there's compelling evidence in both directions.

@ai1sa - rather than right from wrong, maybe bettter and worse for certain people or for certain times

@NSRiazat - @ai1sa Yes ~ was thinking it depends on paradigms and methodology.

@nelldarby - @SueFolley Yes. quite agree, you need to always question the information you're given.

@SueFolley - @nelldarby yes and something we sometimes forget to do, esp if the evidence agrees with our argument :)

@aeratcliffe - One of Brookfield's books (I have it) is Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

@gawbul - @SueFolley Yes, hopefully ready to submit by the end of the week! It's been a steep learning curve, but really focused my thinking!

@NSRiazat - @SueFolley agree if accepted all that was published as fact then would there any new knowledge contributed ~ defeats purpose of Phd

@allonsdanser - @JeffreyKeefer Uncover and check assumptions = presenting an argument.

@JeffreyKeefer - @lizith @LBA_OX12 Yes, he works with bringing critical theory to learning in adulthood. I studied with him; find his work energetic

@nelldarby - @SueFolley @NSRiazat But need to have well thought out reasons for disagreeing with those "facts" - based on good analysis.

@NSRiazat - Have lots of intermediate conlusions on the way, not critical, and then one main conclusion ~ this often leads me round in circles.

@allonsdanser - @NSRiazat I think that as @JeffreyKeefer points out, arguments are about uncovering & cking assumptions.

@ai1sa - synthesis; bringing together also is a way of thinking critically. Not always tearing apart, not always making something less....

@andycoverdale - For me, critical thinking needs to be disciplined and consistent...

@andycoverdale - not something you chose to turn on and off at will to suit agendas or reinforce assumptions

@JeffreyKeefer - @allonsdanser Perhaps, but I think it may first involve a struggle with things alone. Assumptions are often locked internally

@SavvyOD - @andycoverdale By consistent do you mean, that you use CT in every area, not just phd work?

@lizgloyn - #phdchat I often suspect critical thinking is one of those things one knows when one sees - hence so important to let others see your work.

@scottwdavis - So who uses a well-defined process for critical thinking in the context of academic research?

@NSRiazat - @JeffreyKeefer ~ challenging assumptions locked internally is critical point ~ we can never be totally objective?

@allonsdanser - @JeffreyKeefer True. I guess I would not argue unless I was familiar with the assumptions of the topic.

@lizgloyn - @NSRiazat Now we're into locating our own subject-positions, which is easier in some disciplines than in others.

@julialeventon - @NSRiazat @JeffreyKeefer I have recently been pointed towards lit. on positionality around this point.

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis For me, finding supporting intermediate conclusions throughout the writing/analysis to develop a thorough argument  

@allonsdanser - @JeffreyKeefer I'm trying to imagine what CT looks like in the wild. Do you know it when you see it?

@JeffreyKeefer - @ai1sa You know, in this way critical thinking fits nicely with actor-network theory

@ai1sa - @NSRiazat @jeffreykeefer always inside the belly of the monster, always positioned (Donna Haraway)

@gawbul - @SavvyOD I use it in every aspect of my life now :-

@JeffreyKeefer - @allonsdanser I wonder if topics can hold assumptions, as opposed to those people who infuse them into the topics?

@ai1sa - @JeffreyKeefer in this way yes it does. hadnt realised latour & brookfield had a similarity there, but so does Foucault to a point

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis 'R1 + R2 = IC = R3 = C' (the magic Phd critical writing theory ~ should bottle and patent it ;-)

@andycoverdale - @SavvyOD I think the discipline you learn from being critical can be usefully applied in other contexts

@NSRiazat - R1+R2=IC+R3=C (Reason 1 = Reason 2 = Intermediate conlusion + reason 3 = conlusion.)

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat Are your intermediate conclusions moderators and mediators?

@JeffreyKeefer - @ai1sa I am not sure Brookfield and Latour would see a similarity; that is our job to put new things together in our research!

@kdrussaw - #phdchat RT @kdrussaw I offer "They Say/I Say" (can't remember author's name right now) to my students who str (cont)

@SavvyOD - @gawbul CT is kinda like 6Sigma Process Improvement. Once u learn it u see ways of improving processes all the time.

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis re-phrase ~ not sure what you're asking me 'intermediate conclusions moderators/mediators'?

@ai1sa - @JeffreyKeefer similarity in as much as uncovering and checking assumptions

@allonsdanser - @scottwdavis I'd love to see examples of well-defined process for CT.

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat Ex: hypothesize relationship between advertising and sales. May hypothesize about moderating and mediating variables 1st.

@lizgloyn - @allonsdanser #phdchat I think a well-defined CT process is the magic unicorn of teaching/research - rarely sighted and probably fictional.

@ai1sa - i used to be a critical social theorist but then went ANT I now have to reign in my tendency to shred things

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis Using Grounded Theory so mosty theorising comes mainly from data ~ use theory to back up/dispute/challenge findings.

@allonsdanser - @NSRiazat Agree.This is what we were taught as a post-positivist point of view via Nicholas Burbules text on postpositivism.

@LBA_OX12 - @gawbul Can U define a CT process? Is there more than 1?

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat So you're using an inductive approach?

@sarahthesheepu - which for a critical realist is a bit weird i suppose?!

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis But you're right ~ can lead to hypothesising relationshp between variables. Trying to back up with data when possible.

@C_J_Cage - I think Critical Thinking, as with the learning experience is a cycle a bit like this: http://t.co/raSTJvA

@scottwdavis - You can think critically forever about a topic. At some point you've got to conduct an analysis.

@C_J_Cage - or perhaps more like: read, absorb, interpret, read more, compare, criticise. Something like that?

@lizgloyn - @C_J_Cage Which highlights important point - you can't think critically without wide-ranging knowledge of your field.

@NSRiazat - Emergence of themes/categories from the data as opposed to forcing data into categories @scottwdavis

@aeratcliffe - @allonsdanser Brookfield, S. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

@ai1sa - @lizith sometimes doesnt need wide ranging kn; if an argument is inconsistent, or generalizationn can be refuted on a test case

@NSRiazat - @scottwdavis @janeDavis13 ~ Glaserian approach fits better as opposed to Straussian. Initially preferred Straussian but changed.

@allonsdanser - @NSRiazat From whom does this formula originate? Sounds interesting.

@JaneDavis13 - @NSRiazat @scottwdavis I can see bits of both working

@NSRiazat - what is your field? Mine is perceptions and actions as a result so quite subjective so have to allow themes of emerge @scottwdavis

@lizgloyn - @aeratcliffe Ta for the cite. I've heard good things about Schon's Reflective Practitioner too, tho haven't yet read it.

@scottwdavis - @NSRiazat Marketing/Consumer Behavior. Plenty of deductive reasoning before it goes to the lab.

@ai1sa - what i find hard is writers who keep writing & change their minds, staying up to date with alive people is difficult,

@C_J_Cage - Was trying to remember something someone showed me: Bloom's Taxonomy: http://t.co/FhZAPwl I still think it's more like a circle

@NSRiazat - @allonsdanser Trying to make sure I put reasons for thoughts (either from data/literature/academics/theory etc) hence reasons.

@NSRiazat - I looked into Abductive and Inductive...read a little around Deductive. @scottwdavis

@C_J_Cage - Going up the cognitive levels with Bloom's Taxonomy of Cognitive domain: http://t.co/FhZAPwl

@allonsdanser - #phdchat @NSRiazat I like it. It's better than anything I've heard & gets u out of the listing/circling pattern.

@merry30 - @NSRiazat Yes, it needs to be very reflective doesn't it? Thick and transparent at the same time...!

@nurcanileri - I remember I was less critical when I first started PhD.You need to learn the research area to learn to look from different angles

@ai1sa - @aeratcliffe my lit review critiques Schons Refl Prac . well @ least describes & points 2 some limits on how people get positioned

@nurcanileri - @ai1sa I agree, and sometimes find hard to be fully aware of their thinking.

@ai1sa - @nurcanileri and for me the reverse was true...i think i now am open to more depth and breadth

@aeratcliffe - Someone recently recommended, How to Read a Book: The classic guide to intelligent reading. I now have, but another to read later.

@NSRiazat - Definitely gives you a 'hook' for the writing of the analysis/literature review chapters. @NSRiazat

@allonsdanser - @sarahthesheepu It is a great convo today! How did u operationalize CT when u were writing/prepping?

@gawbul - @LBA_OX12 I think it's important to try & see the bigger picture & understand all factors when evaluating & building the argument!

@NSRiazat - @allondanser Definitely gives you a 'hook' for the writing of the analysis/literature review chapters.

@gawbul - @C_J_Cage I agree! Constant feedback and adjustment! Crap if you're a perfectionist :-

@ai1sa - i like using my blog for practicing critique, sometimes it even pulls the writers i have talked of out into the open :)

@lizgloyn - #phdchat OOI, how many people's supervisors explicitly mention CT? None of my teachers ever did; first encountered it in teaching objectives

@aeratcliffe - When I think of CT, I think of Jenny Moon. Used to refer to her materials when trying to teach students

@aeratcliffe - ...that is when trying to teach students about CT and reflective writing

@ai1sa - A last thought on CT, 4 now, : To bring somethings into the light is also to push some things into the shadow (Bruno Latour )

@gawbul - @ai1sa I need to start doing that some more! My supervisor actually recommended it!

@NSRiazat - Kelle http://goo.gl/hAUFE

@allonsdanser - @lizgloyn Mine do! All the time. They seem to be explicitly trying to get us to engage in CT.

@lizgloyn - @allonsdanser #phdchat Mine wanted me to produce artefacts that demonstrated CT, but never used the CT jargon, which is why I ask.

@NSRiazat - Maybe training is needed in CT for PhD students by home institutions...I think it is something that we just often left to discover?

@SavvyOD - @NSRiazat It should be a course taught in school...at some point, and the sooner, the better.

@lizgloyn - @NSRiazat That would mean institutions knowing how to define it in the first place #oldcynic

@JeffreyKeefer - @allonsdanser Great question. In the wild, I think critical thinking looks like somebody who listens and acknowledges differences

@JeffreyKeefer - @julialeventon @NSRiazat Tell us more about your new area of lit inquiry.

@JeffreyKeefer - @NSRiazat No, I do not think we can be objective. Fair, yes; without experience, no.

@Rabourn - I just ordered "They Say/I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing." Looks like what I need. Thx for mentioning it @kdrussaw

@allonsdanser - @JeffreyKeefer post #Phdchat reflection re postpositivism & actor network theory has opened a new door in my mind.World building is complex

@clrsimple2 - @Rabourn @kdrussaw I just ordered they say/i say - looks great!! TY!

@JeffreyKeefer - @nurcanileri Yes; learning to see things from different angles is quite a challenge. I have know PhDs who never learned that.

@JeffreyKeefer - Somebody in #phdchat mentioned the book "They Say / I Say" http://amzn.to/mMtlqD today. Was it recommended?

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