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Academic Writing: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking


One of the most important features of Higher Education is the expectation that you will engage in thinking critically about the subject that you are studying. This type of critical thinking involves asking fundamental questions concerning the ideas, beliefs and attitudes that you will encounter. As a result, critical thinking is key to successfully expressing your individuality in an academic context and engaging with the wider scholarship of the academic community.

Watch a tutorial on what it means to be a critical student.

Bloom's (1956) taxonomy is a useful tool for categorising a progression from the descriptive to higher levels of critical/analytical thought.

Descriptive thinking is represented in the first two levels in the diagram: knowledge, comprehension. 

Critical thinking is represented as moving through the top four levels in Bloom's taxonomy: application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation (see figure below). Application looks at the way in which ideas can be used in practice. Analysis looks at how ideas work as a system of thought. Synthesis is concerned with the way in which ideas can complement each other and work together in combination, sometimes to create a new system of thought. Evaluation looks to judge the worth of ideas, their strengths and weaknesses in particular contexts, and how they compare in effectiveness with other ideas.


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1:1 bookable appointments can be made with your Academic Skills Advisers for your subject area.

Students from Ipswich can book two appointments per week (if you are a student from the Learning Network, please contact your library) - 

  • up to 1 hour with an Academic Skills Advisor

Appointments are scheduled in 30 minute slots.  

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