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Book recommendation: Learning to read critically in teaching and learning

    Poulson L. and Wallace, M (Eds.). (2004). Learning to read critically in teaching and learning. London: Sage

The book is geared towards master's and doctoral students in the field of education. The first part of the book (the first two chapters) offers very good guidelines for writing literature reviews and other parts of a thesis/dissertation. The second part of the book provides sample papers. There is also an appendix that provides a template that you can use to guide your critiques of other papers. (I think I will refer to it when I am reviewing papers for journals and conferences.)

Of particular relevance for students asked to do critiques, the first chapter provides some guidelines for both what to do and what not to do when reviewing the work of others:

  • adopting an attitude of scepticism (reasoned doubt)
  • habitually questioning claims (your own and those of others)
  • scrutinising claims
  • respecting others: "Challenging others' work is acceptable, but challenging their worth as people is not."
  • being open-minded (willing to be convinced)
  • being constructive (to achieve a worthwhile goals). "Challenging other's work to find a better way of doing things is acceptable, but indulging in destructive criticism of others' work just to demonstrate your own intellectual prowess at their expense is not."
    (p. 6)

This is a very mature and balanced approach to critique clearly within the spirit of academic criticism.

This book, overall, is very worthwhile.


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