VCSEwiki:Reading manual

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At this point, let's think about how we will approach two very important skills: critical thinking and critical reading.

Critical thinking and reading

Critical thinking does not mean attacking or criticizing, rather is an intellectual process of thinking carefully and concisely from different perspectives and using evidence to support any judgments you make.

Everybody reads differently: fast or slow, thinking about what they are reading while they are going along, or thinking about it afterwards, or not thinking much at all! The instructions and materials below provide guidance and tips on how to read "actively": defining the purpose you are reading for, and asking questions, making comments and recording your responses and ideas while you read. These strategies ensure that you really make the most of the time you spend reading.

The method of reading

if it is to be really efficient, it is necessary to consider different ways of reading:

  • reading to remember what you are required to know (for remembering facts, for example)
  • this is different from reading for writing a text on a selected topic when somebody needs to understand the way issues are argued.

Critical reading is crucial for understanding “across” disciplinary boundaries and exploring different disciplinary backgrounds. This skill is also necessary for active engagement in the issue of globalisation or any other issue – whether it concerns a theoretical analysis of thoughts (and developing new ones) or a more practical use of the ideas in activities that align with personal worldviews.

Online reading (and writing) manuals

Reading and writing for the "Critical Thinking" concept

is based on the theory of active learning and pedagogical constructivism. The aim of the teaching process according to these theories is not only to provide students some knowledge (and require feedback afterwards), but also to develop competences needed for their independent work in the field of knowledge.

The "Three-stage learning cycle"

provides the basic framework for a learning process that supports a student’s own judgement. In the first phase, students are encouraged to consider their assumptions about a topic and to frame their questions about it. Then comes the second phase, in which students remain active as they inquire and examine the topic – they really study it from the resources provided. The third "reflection" phase encourages students to compare what they have learned with their prior assumptions. Accordingly, the model of learning is called E – R – R

  • evocation – students realize what they already know about the chosen topic or what they think about it; at the same time they should also be able to formulate their questions and those areas of the topic they feel unsure about and which they would like to find answers to in the following stages.
  • realization of meaning – confronting the student's original concept of the topic with the sources of information provided
  • reflection – students re-formulate their understanding of the topic with regard to the newly acquired information and the discussions with their colleagues, they fully realize what they have learnt and are able to go beyond it and contribute to it in their own way.

Resources for the E - R - R model