Being a Critical Writer

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Overview

When you arrive at college or university, you will find yourself being exposed to all kinds of new ideas and concepts, as part of your study within your major (and if you’re an undeclared major, then certainly as part of your general education classes). But there is one key concept that will keep appearing throughout your time at university, whether seen as part of your assignments’ feedback, mentioned by your teachers in class, or referred to on posters perhaps across campus. This key concept is criticality. It is often referred to in specific ways, such as critical reading or critical thinking. Likewise, it is also known by other terms, such as analysis, evaluation, interpretation, questioning, unpacking, going deeper, and so on. In fact, these terms are not merely synonyms of criticality, but in some cases are aspects of it. In other words, the broad word of criticality is the starting point, a blanket term which can be demonstrated in several different ways. So, to begin, let’s start with an understanding of what being critical means, and then you will see examples of what it can actually look like in your own writing. At the completion of this Skill, you should be able to:

  • Explain clearly in your own words what it means to be “critical”
  • Recognize critical writing when you see it
  • Finally, produce critical writing for your essays and assignments

Suggested Readings

Baratta, A. (2020). Read critically. SAGE.
University of Leeds. (n.d.). What is critical thinking?University of Leeds.
The Open University. (2008). Thinking critically. The Open University.
Purdue University. (n.d.). Writing to think: Critical thinking and the writing process. Purdue Global Academic Success and Writing Resource Center and Blog.
The Foundation for Critical Thinking. (n.d.). Our concept and definition of critical thinking. The Foundation for Critical Thinking.