Practice and Portfolio Zap101

Introduction

Critical Evaluation Skills focuses on how students can identify and put plans in place to develop these skills at the university college and apply them in other contexts. Skills in analysis and critical evaluation/thinking enable the refinement of problems and issues into their component parts, so that their significance and inter-relationships can be examined before being synthesised back into a whole.

Being able to examine processes, systems, objects, artefacts, issues and ideas in terms of their component parts and to make informed judgements about their worth, as well as the value and relevance of information are essential learning and life skills. Like problem solving, the skills of analysis and critical evaluation are best learned in a discipline context, but can be transferred to other learning contexts.

2. Critical Thinking

Critical evaluation is about proving a point, interpreting information and resolving problems. The ability to make informed judgments or evaluations about the worth, validity and reliability of opinions, ideas and knowledge is crucial in this process.

“When we think critically, we are evaluating the outcomes of our thought processes.”

Halpern, D.F. (1997). Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum: A Brief Edition of Thought and Knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erhlbaum & Associates, p. 4

What is Critical Thinking? | 10:42 mins

In order to display critical thinking, students need to develop skills in:

Why is critical thinking important at the University College?

In general, students who develop critical thinking skills are more able to

2.1 What are you aiming to achieve?

One of the most important aspects of critical thinking is to decide what you are aiming to achieve and then make a decision based on a range of possibilities.

Once you have clarified that aim for yourself you should use it as the starting point in all future situations requiring thought and, possibly, further decision making. Where needed, make your workmates, peers, family or those around you aware of your intention to pursue this goal. You must then discipline yourself to keep on track until changing circumstances mean you have to revisit the start of the decision making process.

However, there are things that get in the way of simple decision making. We all carry with us a range of likes and dislikes, learnt behaviours and personal preferences developed throughout our lives; they are the hallmarks of being human. A major contribution to ensuring we think critically is to be aware of these personal characteristics, preferences and biases and make allowance for them when considering possible next steps, whether they are at the pre-action consideration stage or as part of a rethink caused by unexpected or unforeseen impediments to continued progress.

The more clearly we are aware of ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, the more likely our critical thinking will be productive. To help you with this there are a number of skills audits in this module to help you start identifying these traits.

Work through the following Lynda course on critical thinking

Try this simple exercise to help you to start thinking critically, record the exercise in your portfolio.

Think of something that someone has recently told you. Then ask yourself the following questions:

Who said it?

Someone you know? Someone in a position of authority or power? Does it matter who told you this?

What did they say?

Did they give facts or opinions? Did they provide all the facts? Did they leave anything out?

Where did they say it?

Was it in public or in private? Did other people have a chance to respond an provide an alternative account?

When did they say it?

Was it before, during or after an important event? Is timing important?

Why did they say it?

Did they explain the reasoning behind their opinion? Were they trying to make someone look good or bad?

How did they say it?

Were they happy or sad, angry or indifferent? Did they write it or say it? Could you understand what was said?

3: Introduction to the meaning of ‘The self’ and ‘The other’

‘The self’ may be defined in multiple ways, and is a concept that encompasses different meanings to different people. In the Practice and Portfolio units it is seen to include identity (i.e. who a person is in their entirety) and worldview (i.e. a person’s belief system and values in life). ‘The other’ also means different things to different people, but in the Practice and Portfolio units it is seen to include a range of employability skills, academic skills, and graduate attributes (some of which students may already have). Conceptually, the skills and attributes that sit within the category of ‘the other’ over time become a part of ‘the self’ - unless they are already part of it, which may be the case for students entering the Associate Degree Program after extensive experience in the chosen discipline.

The Self

To enable students to better understand ‘The self’ this toolkit has activities, exercises, links to resources, and blank templates and examples that enable students to explore the following:

The Other

To enable students to better understand ‘The other’ (aspects of the self in regards to work and education) this module has activities, exercises, links to resources, and blank templates and examples that enable students to explore the following:

* Employability Skills

* Academic Skills

* Graduate Attributes

According to the Business Council of Australia (2002), employability skills may include, communication that contributes to harmonious relationships, initiative and enterprise that lead to innovative outcomes, learning for ongoing improvement, planning and organising that contributes to strategic planning, problem solving that leads to productive outcomes, self-management that leads to employee satisfaction and growth, teamwork that contributes to productive working relationships and outcomes, and technology for effectiveness of task completion.

Although a range of other employability skills checklists exist, they generally cover these main areas. Variation may be found in graduate attributes checklists also; however, the University of Tasmania graduate attributes include knowledge (specific to a discipline), communication, enquiry skills, critical thinking, problem-solving, self-management, social responsibility, and global citizenship.

Credits:

Created with images by _Fidelio_ - "The Thinker." • aitoff - "foot shoe step" • seier+seier - "interior. hans christian hansen, architect: tagensbo kirke / church, copenhagen 1966-1970." • stux - "office table home office"

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