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Course Outline for Critical Thinking and Writing in Linguistics – 8-10 week module                           

Week

Topic

Macro-focus / concepts

Micro-focus / materials & skills

Purpose / Learning outcomes

Week 1

No teaching / registration

Week 2

Introduction

Aims & objectives of the course / modes of work

Range and types of assignments in LIN

Standards of argumentation

Marking criteria

Diagnostic test (how much Ss know on different types of writing)

 

The process of Writing

Features of Academic Writing

Identifying relevant skills

The writing process

 

 

 

 

  • Concepts & approaches to AW / academic standards
  • Analysing criteria and standards of assessment
  • Needs analysis
  • Introduction to general AW processes and features
  • Cognitive awareness and introduction of some of the metalanguage

 

 

Skills:

- identify target features

- goal setting

- logic and ordering skills

- develop basic understanding of how knowledge is presented and discussed in the discipline

 

Materials:

- ppt / team-teaching (first part)

- quiz (polling website)

- HOs

- QM+ / QMHub

 

Introduce the concept of AW

Introduce the writing process

Clarify SLLF demands & marking schemes

Raise student awareness: differences between AW and A-Levels / other types

Instigate motivation

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Distinguish between different types of written assignments
  • Have a clear idea of what the tutors expectations are
  • Identify some of their own weaknesses
  • Distinguish between AW and other types of writing
  • Be aware of the complexity of the task and the skills involved

 

Week 3

Researching topics

Using the Library catalogue to research for a specific topic

Using search engines and databases

Narrowing down search terms / using Boolean operators

Reliability of sources

 

Writing for a purpose

Identifying different types of writing

Exploring different essay frameworks

Analysing / interpreting assignment questions

 

 

 

  • Developing/extending library skills
  • Exploring types of resources
  • Raising awareness: source reliability & peer reviewing
  • ‘Hands-on’ learning experience that allows for varied levels of individual development
  • Raising cognitive awareness: purpose and structure of texts
  • Focus on the concept of analysis as a tool for interpretation.

 

 

Skills:

- doing online search for books and articles

- selecting reliable sources

- familiarisation with search engines & operators

- develop peer review and negotiation skills

- identify fundamental parts of assignment questions and what options they have in terms of structure

 

Materials:

- Ss’ own laptops/tablets

- HOs

- selection of LIN texts

- selection of LIN questions

Provide know-how and support in Ss’ first steps in researching for sources

Familiarise Ss with Library tools and search engines

Raise student awareness: reliability of sources

Expose Ss to different types of essay frameworks and the typws of questions they normally correspond to

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Use basic Library search tools
  • Locate and access sources on the internet
  • Identify different types of essay structure
  • Interpret different types of assignment questions and identify what form of writing is required

 

Week 4

Reading Critically

Selecting sources

Effective reading and info selection

Identifying arguments, claims, support and evidence

 

Organising ideas 1

What makes a logical structure / linear rhetoric

Essay structure: academic reports, expository, critical review, cause-effect, argumentative

Essay planning tips

 

What is an argument

Argument structure

What makes a good argument / developing an argument

Logical fallacies

 

 

 

 

  • Introduction to the concept of argument
  • Raising cognitive awareness: basic principles of logic
  • Develop confidence in identifying and selecting information
  • Introduction to linear rhetoric
  • Focus on how meaning is conveyed within different writing frameworks

 

 

 

 

Skills:

- identifying reliable sources

- developing effective reading skills i.e. skimming, scanning, identifying important info

- understanding the logic of Linear Rhetoric structures

- develop basic understanding of how knowledge can be presented in different writing frameworks

- distinguishing between a statement, an argument and a logical fallacy

- arrange ideas in a coherent whole

 

Materials:

- selected LIN texts / extracts

- ppt (part 2)

- HOs

- planning frameworks [essay, reports, critical reviews etc]

Introduce linear rhetoric structure

Introduce and elaborate on the notion and structure of the argument

Relate arguments to developing a thesis

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Identify linear structure and roughly design in linear fashion
  • Distinguish between strong/sound/valid arguments
  • Identify basic fallacies
  • Identifying arguments, claims, support and evidence in academic work
  • Know how to select sources and particular information from sources effectively

Week 5

Structuring paragraphs

Importance of structure / expected conventions

Topic sentences : topic & controlling idea

Cohesive devices e.g. linking words, anaphoric references

 

Organising ideas 2

Understanding relationships between ideas e.g. cause-effect, contradiction, support, problem-solution

 

Incorporating sources 1

Plagiarism as an academic offence

Paraphrasing

Using quotations

Referencing: using APA/Harvard format

(now in week 6)

 

 

 

  • Discussion of the concept of plagiarism as an academic offence
  • Raising cognitive awareness: paraphrasing, referencing, quotations as tools for incorporating evidence
  • Exploring the relationship between semantic and syntactic representations of the relationships between ideas in essay structure
  • Understand the process of analysis and evaluation
  • Developing effective paragraphs
  • Explore ways of linking facts and ideas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skills:

- distinguish between facts and ideas

- identify relationships between ideas

- identify problems in terms of incorporating ideas

- paraphrasing skills

- developing structured paragraphs

- writing effective topic sentences

 

 

Materials:

- ppt (including Ss own work)

- HOs

- self-evaluation checklist for scientific reports

Introduce and elaborate on a variety of relations and interactions between ideas

Provide practice on paragraphing

Familiarise Ss with reference systems

Raise student awareness: plagiarism as an academic offence

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Fully understand the importance of plagiarism and why they should avoid it
  • Incorporate evidence / support from sources in their paragraphs
  • Design effective paragraphs
  • Identify and produce effective topic sentences
  • Paraphrase effectively
  • Use in-text and end-of-text references correctly

Week 6

Improving readability

 

Incorporating sources 1

Incorporating sources: examples, data, glossing

Using quotations

Referencing: using APA/Harvard format

 

Re-visiting the brief

Responding to the task

Signposting and cohesion

 

Editing & proofreading 1

Focusing on first writing assignment: content, conventions, language

 

Revision

Writing academic reports: structure and language

Incorporating sources

Coherence

 

Writing surgery 1

Focusing on first writing assignment

 

 

 

 

 

  • Focus on synthesis and coherence in report structure
  • Developing peer-review skills and solid academic standards in reviewing work

 

 

 

 

 

Skills:

- revising and verifying their approach to their task

- applying practical knowledge

- peer-reviewing skills

 

Materials:

- Ss’ own writing (first assignment)

Revise report structure & style

Practise the concept of study/writing groups

Identify structural problems in peers’ work

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Identify whether they have addressed the question
  • Identify relationships between ideas as required for their assignment
  • Identify flaws in logic / essay structure
  • Structure coherent paragraphs and spot incoherencies
  • Express views on whether and how the points are supported in the essay

Week 7

Reading Week

Week 8

Developing a thesis

Unpacking the essay question to form a thesis

Developing substantive arguments

 

Incorporating sources 2

Summarising

Synthesising sources

Signposting and cohesion

 

Language focus 1

Accuracy: paraphrasing

Denotation / collocation + word search engines / AWL (week 11)

 

 

  • Discussion of the concept of synthesis
  • Raising cognitive awareness: summarising as a tool for incorporating evidence
  • Exploring the relationship between ideas and evidence
  • Developing accuracy

 

 

 

Skills:

- building on essay title analysis assignment brief analysis

- distinguishing between statements and arguments

- summarising skills

- synthesising and maintaining cohesion

- developing accuracy: vocab

 

Materials:

- ppt

- HOs

- selected LIN texts / extracts

- Ss own work

Elaborate on developing a strong thesis

Introduce and provide practice on synthesising and integrating sources

Raise student awareness: being concise – how to choose the right words

Familiarise with word search engines

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Develop a thesis statement in the form of an argument
  • Summarise effectively
  • Identify relevant claims from a variety of sources and synthesise them
  • Use cohesive devices effectively
  • Utilise word search engines and AWL

 

Week 9

Introductions and conclusions

Role and structure

Variations between different assignment briefs

 

Cohesion

Interim summaries

Linking findings/ evidence/assumptions to the question

Revision: forming a strong thesis

 

Language focus 2

Dependent/independent clauses, avoiding stringy/run-on sentences

Nominalisation (week 11)

 

 

 

  • Exploring types of introductions and conclusions
  • Raising cognitive awareness: relevance to task type
  • Forming interim summaries and their cohesive role
  • Exploring essay cohesion: claims, evidence & interim summaries
  • Focus on sentence level: clauses and style

 

 

 

Skills:

- writing effective introductions and conclusions

- writing interim summaries

- developing a sense of cohesion: relating different parts of the essay with thesis

- producing effective sentences

- improving academic writing style: nominalisation (week 11)

 

Materials:

- ppt

- HOs

- selected LIN texts / extracts

- Ss own essay outlines

- self-evaluation checklist for essays

Introduce role and structure of INTRO & CONCLU

Introduce and elaborate on interim summaries

Raise student awareness: variations between different types of academic texts assignments

Introduce nominalisation and practice on nominalising selectively

Enhance editing skills: clauses

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Write up an appropriate introduction and conclusion
  • Identify important info and write an interim summary
  • Relate interim summaries to overall cohesion and argument design
  • Identify nominalisation in academic texts and locate Head Nouns
  • Produce nominalised sentences

Week 10

Expressing voice in AW

Your voice / placing your voice strategically in your essay

The voice of ‘others’ / making the author’s voice evident by introducing and interpreting

 

Language focus 3 Expressing caution

‘Hedging’: language of caution and academic convention.

Avoiding generalisations, emotive language and assertive claims.

Reporting verbs

 

 

 

  • Introduction to the concept of ‘voice’
  • Raising cognitive awareness: basic principles of expressing caution
  • Exploring effects of emotive language & generalisations
  • Develop confidence in interpreting and integrating other authors’ views

 

 

 

Skills:

- conveying other authors’ voice

- identifying differences among voices in academic texts

- expressing your voice

- placing your voice strategically

- using language of caution and voice

 

Materials:

- ppt

- HOs

- selected LIN texts / extracts

- Ss own work

Introduce and elaborate on expressing voice in academic writing

Expose students to ways of introducing and interpreting views

Raise student awareness: avoiding descriptive writing

 

Ss should be able to:

  • identify features of critical and analytical writing
  • Identify and integrate the writer’s voice
  • Integrate their own voice
  • Use hedging techniques
  • Use reporting verbs effectively

 

Week 11

Readability and audience

Revisiting the task and the response: purpose and audience

 

Editing and proofreading 2

Improving language (word level): working with the AWL, collocation, denotation, word search engines i.e. flax

 

Improving language (sentence level): avoiding stringy/run-on sentences

Nominalisation

 

Writing surgery 2

Revision and reflection (week 12)

 

  • Focus on the concepts of purpose and audience and their importance
  • Focus on register and style
  • Developing editing skills and solid academic standards in reviewing work

 

  • Focus on synthesis and coherence in essay structure
  • Developing peer-review skills and solid academic standards in reviewing work
  • Focus on individual weaknesses

 

 

 

Skills:

- revising and verifying their approach to their task

- applying practical knowledge

- peer-reviewing editing skills

 

Materials:

- Ss’ own writing (second assignment)

Revise essay structure & style

Practise the concept of study/writing groups

Identify structural problems in peers’ work

 

Ss should be able to:

  • Identify whether they have addressed the question
  • Identify relationships between ideas as required for their assignment
  • Identify flaws in logic / essay structure
  • Structure coherent paragraphs and spot incoherencies
  • Express views on whether and how the points are supported in the essay

Week 12

Writing surgery 3

Individual writing surgeries

Reading List

Anglia Ruskin University, Library (nd). Guide to the Harvard System of reference [online] Available at: http://libweb.anglia.ac.uk/referencing/harvard.htm [Accessed 17/05/2016]

Burns, T. and Sinfield, S (2016). Essential Study Skills, 4th ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd

Cottrell, S. (2011). Critical Thinking Skills: developing effective analysis and argument, 2nd ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Cottrell, S. (2013). The study skills handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Osmond, A. (2016). Academic writing and grammar for students, 2nd ed. London: Sage Publications Ltd

Pears, R. and Shields, G. J. (2013). Cite them right, 9th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Queen Mary University of London, SLLF, Language Centre (2012). Academic English Online. [online] Available at: http://aeo.sllf.qmul.ac.uk/ [Accessed 17/05/2016]

Swales, J. M. and Feak, C. B. (2012). Academic writing for graduate students, 3rd ed. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press

Critical Thinking and Writing for Modern Foreign Languages – Module description

This module is offered at level 4 and responds to students' linguistic and discipline specific needs in terms of developing analytical skills, critical reading and note-taking skills, argument construction and incorporation of sources, citation and referencing, essay structuring and organisation, written English as necessary (grammar and vocabulary), and editing and proof-reading skills. Students joining this module are both L1 and L2 speakers of English and are studying the modern foreign language degrees in SLLF namely  French, German, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, Russian.

These workshops help students to deliver what is expected from them in their essays.  After consultation with their subject tutors and agreement on the academic skills needed to succeed in their degrees, the content is itemised and will be presented in strands of ‘study skills’, ‘reading and demonstrating knowledge’, and ‘critical thinking and writing’. Students will be given the tools to manage their time efficiently and plan their work accordingly. They will be guided through the process of understanding and successfully delivering assignments, in view of the implications their immediate context bestows upon them. Students will be encouraged and expected to reflect upon their own practice, and will be provided with formative feedback to ensure the learning outcomes are achieved.   

The module is needs driven and therefore the syllabus is necessarily flexible and the content delivered in workshop format.
This module will begin in Week 2 of Semester 1, and run for 10 weeks (excluding Week 7 - Reading week). All first year MFL students will be required to attend this module which has been designed with input with their subject tutors and will run in tandem with their first year foundations modules. In addition, it is likely that, students would work on their assignments during this module, and will therefore be able to apply the skills learned on the module immediately. The module will specifically address:
- How to follow an assignment brief (Essay title analysis and planning)
- Knowledge and understanding (critical reading and note-taking)
- Argument/analysis (argument construction and the incorporation of evidence from sources)
- Referencing (the mechanics of citation and referencing as well as the why)
- Structure and organisation (within paragraphs and the whole essay)
- Written English (grammar and vocabulary)
- Presentation (and editing + proof-reading)

Aims:

To provide students with an understanding of what is expected from them in their essay assignments.
To help students manage their time efficiently and plan their work effectively.
To offer students the possibility to unpack assignments and recognise the knowledge required to answer them successfully.
To help students distinguish between different ways of knowing.
To make students aware of the notion of appropriateness and its implications in their writing.  
To provide students with the skills to select and judge information from a variety of sources.
To help students deepen their understanding of different types of academic writing.

COURSE OUTLINE

Module in Critical Thinking and Writing for B.A in Comparative Literature.

10 week course in Semester 2.

Level: 4   It is mandatory for all 1st year students.

It is non-credit bearing.

Assessment:

No formal assessment.  However the course will include plenty of opportunity for peer feedback and correction, and feedback/advice from the teacher.  

Skills developed on this course:

This course aims to help you develop your academic writing and thinking skills.  This is for you to gain a solid grounding on which to build your assignment ambition for the entire degree, and also to help you with immediate questions you may have on your feedback and work so far.

This course will enable you to:

  • Look critically at your own writing and gain a better understanding of your weaknesses and strengths in relation to University academic criteria.
  • Practise purposeful writing and understand how writing links to thinking.
  • Write with greater clarity and accuracy, looking at things such as good sentence structure, academic register, use of vocabulary and how these link to thinking.
  • Develop your ability to voice argument in assignments.
  • Develop your ability to structure thought and argument into coherent essays.
  • Increase your skills in citation and referencing.
  • Better understand aspects of critical thinking such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.
  • Feel more confident in absorbing and using the discourse of your discipline, including aspects of ‘hedging’ language.
  • Ultimately, improve your grades! 

How the course is taught:

The course will be a 2 hour taught class, in which approximately 40% will be input, and 60% writing and planning practice.   The writing work will draw on your essay experience and feedback so far, as well as give you practice and preparation for your coming assignments.

You will be expected to work in groups as well as on your own.  You don’t need to bring anything except pen and paper (and a laptop if you wish).

Module teachers:

Mira Shapur and Alan Hart

Room: Bancroft 1.29

Telephone: 0207 882 2759; email: m.shapur@qmul.ac.uk

Module convenor:

Dr. Saima Sherazi

Room: Bancroft 1.26

Telephone: 0207 882 2832; email: s.n.sherazi@qmul.ac.uk

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