Putting it all into practice
Expand on each of the five key questions, used on this page, in more detail as a quick close scrutiny activity with students on their own draft. This works well as a paired activity providing students have explored totally different research areas for their reflective project. (Otherwise this might compromise academic integrity).
Has the research question stayed the same throughout the essay?
Take a highlighter (physically or online) and mark where the research question is referred to in each paragraph. In the comment box, state how it relates to the main question. eg. 'this paragraph considers the ethical implications of the issue stated in the question' or 'this paragraph explores a perspective on the same ethical dilemma in the question'. Do not be afraid to make comments about how it does not relate to the question. eg. 'this paragraph discusses an ethical issue but it does not match the question. Use Creating a Research Question for further support here.
Is the use of sources credible and varied?
This is a great exercise to do to help out a partner you have been paired with. Take time to look up the references in their bibliography and apply the RAVEN system discussed in Research skills. Do the sources come from similar sources or perspectives?
Is there full understanding of the ethical impact of an idea or perspective?
Take a highlighter and mark whereever the essay refers to the ethical impact of the issue at hand. Read back through just these highlighted sections. Does it give the impression that the ethical impact of the issue and dilemma has been considered? Does the highlighting indicate that this has been consistently done throughout the essay? Indicate in another colour where possible ethical analysis could be included
Are there independent ideas and solutions?
Take a highlighter and mark whereever the essay gives an idea that is your/your partner's own and a possible solution. Read back through just these highlighted sections. Does it give the impression that you/your partner have weighed up different perspectives and offered independent ideas? Does the highlighting indicate that this has been consistently done throughout the essay? Are their ideas and solutions offered in detail in the conclusion? Indicate in another colour where possible own ideas could be included - this could be at points in the essay where different perspectives have been considered and there is an opportunity to state own independent thoughts. Use the advice in Critical Thinking to help you further.
Is each paragraph structured to show critical thinking?
This activity demands multiple colours in highlighting. Using the advice on structuring critical thinking in both Critical Thinking and Writing skills, highlight paragraphs for the use of PEEL, REAL or SEAL. The use of SEAL will lead to a more complex argument as it allows for assessing strengths and weaknesses too.
Take a step back from your work once you have finished (this will take a while). Does your highlighting show a balance of analysis? Does it show too much evidence (ie quote is too long) and not enough evaluation? Is there effective analysis without evidence to support? Does the essay start strongly but become generalised?