Developing critical thinking for writing essays is very important because it enables students to view information from different perspectives. They can learn all they need to know about the structure of an essay but they also need to learn how to process their thoughts clearly and plan out their arguments.
Critical thinking enables them to research, analyze and evaluate ideas before committing them to paper and this is a skill that students are able to practice and develop.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking means stepping back from the evidence and examining the data from different angles. It means investigating, analyzing, asking questions, and checking the accuracy of the information.
By checking statistics and other empirical data, it is possible to check the logic of arguments and detect unsubstantiated arguments and possible flaws. This makes it possible to reach a more informed conclusion.
Apply critical thinking in writing
Critical writing is learning how to present reasoning and evidence in a clear, well-structured way. In different academic study formats, such as essays, reports, dissertations etc. the writer’s view may be presented in different ways but the conclusions are always logical. Students have to be able to investigate the evidence and test it, as well as consider alternative explanations and arguments before reaching a conclusion.
Research by questioning everything
Not all the resources that students use are relevant or even accurate. Critical thinking involves questioning all sources. To write critically, it is important to examine every piece of information prior to use. This means distinguishing between what is an opinion, a hypothesis or a fact. An opinion is personal and not objective because it is based on experience and personal impressions. Hypotheses are theories that must still be tested scientifically. Facts and realities and truths backed up by evidence.
Key questions to ask include “How reliable is this information?”, “Is this true? Why or why not?” or “Does the author have a reason to be biased?” Students have to be skeptical, probing, and examine different ideas.
Use appropriate, accurate evidence
Students need to choose the most accurate and appropriate evidence to support their arguments and then stay true to it. This will help them to give a balanced account of the different ideas and avoid any unsubstantiated assertions. They should always back up an argument with the evidence and give reasons for reaching a certain conclusion.
Evaluating data means answering questions about it, such as whether the argument is a good one and whether it explains all the circumstances or leaves some out. Are the examples given awkward? If this is the case, a student could look for more appropriate examples to support a particular argument.
Students need to organize their essays in a way that makes it easy for a reader to follow. This starts with the way they formulate their introduction and follows all the way through to a logical conclusion. An introduction section will usually follow a sequence leading from broad to more narrow and gives readers a taste of what’s to come. The body consists of paragraphs related to different points in the argument and the conclusions sums this up.
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Planning ahead enables students to write a more concise, properly organized and relevant essay. Good critical writing is systematic. In the same way as in a criminal investigation, students need to investigate the essay topic thoroughly and gather as many different opinions as possible.
They need to compare and contrast these ideas in developing their argument. Then they need to be able to construct an outline for their argument with each paragraph developing it further and leading to a logical conclusion.
Clarity is necessary when writing assignments but oversimplifying arguments will not only insult the intelligence of the reader but can show a lack of depth. Students need to offer a balanced presentation of the reasons why to accept or reject the conclusions of other authors. They need to present their argument and back it up with evidence.
This all needs to be done in a clear and logical way without losing any of the depth or breadth of arguments. Relationships between concepts need to be clearly described rather than summarized.
Do away with tautology and truisms
Students’ essays are often full of tautology when they first begin writing. These are statements that basically repeat the same thing. A truism is a statement that is self-evident. Both tautology and truisms don’t add to an argument.
Students need to avoid repeating themselves or making self-evident statements if they want to improve the clarity and conciseness of their writing. Practice makes perfect and the top study organization apps can help save study time and make more practice possible.
A final word
As soon as students have done their research and gathered the information for an essay, they need to use their critical thinking skills to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments the evidence raises. This can help them to define the best approach for using evidence to back up their argument when writing an essay. By developing a clear, convincing argument that unfolds step by step, they can come to a logical, evidence-based conclusion.
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