Writing with critical thinking

One of the problems that students often have is how to include "critical thinking" into their exam essays. It is often clear that students know the strategies - that is, writing MAGEC about research (Methodological considerations, alternative arguments, gender considerations, ethical considerations, cultural considerations) - but they don't know how to write about them in their argument. Weaving those arguments into their essays is an essential part of writing a top level essay.

One strategy to help students is to repeatedly remind them to use the words "because" and "that is" to "complete the sentence." In other words, they shouldn't just write that a study is not cross-culturallly valid, but they should then write "because...." and explain why this is not the case - for example, because the sample was made up exclusively of white British males from an individualistic society.

In order to help students practice using "because" and "that is," here is a simple worksheet. Suggested answers are provided..

1. Loftus’s study lacks ecological validity.

Loftus's study lacks ecological validity - that is, what she observed under controlled conditions may not be predictive of what happens in a natural environment. OR Loftus's study lacks ecological validity because when you watch a film of a car crash you experience different emotions than you would if you were actually at the scene of a real car crash; emotions may play a part in how memories are formed.

2. Bouchard et al’s study of intelligence may lack construct validity.

Bouchard et al's study of intelligence may lack construct validity because the definition of intelligence which they have used may not be accepted by everyone as a valid way of defining and measuring intelligence.

3. Bandura’s Bashing Bobo study may be considered unethical.

Bandura's study may be considered unethical because it could not be determined whether any aggressive behaviour that the children might learn would be reversible in the future.

4. The Bouchard study may have problems with contamination.

Bouchard's study may have problems with contamination because of its fame and the fact that twins which then join the sample may base their statements on what they have heard that other twins have said.

5. Many memory studies suffer from maturation.

Many memory studies suffer from maturation because as participants repeatedly take a similar type of memory test, they will develop/learn skills to improve their performance over time.

6. Meany’s study of the role of stress on memory may not be generalizable.

Meany's study of the role of stress on memory may not be generalizable because it was performed on animals, and it is not clear whether they process stress in the same way that we do; however, there does seem to be evidence of hippocampal cell loss in people who self-identify as highly stressed.

7. Studies of relationships often suffer from demand characteristics.

Studies of relationships often suffer from demand characteristics - that is, the participants will say what they think the researcher wants to hear, or what they feel is socially acceptable.

8. The Loftus study has sampling bias.

The Loftus study has sampling bias because the sample was made up of American university students - this may not reflect the traits of a larger population.

9. The Bouchard study suffers from the equal environment fallacy.

The Bouchard study suffers from the equal environment fallacy - that is, it is based on the assumption that because twins were raised together, they shared the same environment. There are several reasons why this may not be true; for example, a parent preferred one twin over the other, they were in different classes in school, or they have different peer groups based on extracurricular interests.

10. Many studies on the effect of television violence on children suffer from bidirectional ambiguity.

Many studies on the effect of television violence on children suffer from bidirectional ambiguity - that is, it is not possible to know whether violent children watch more violent television, or whether violent children makes children violent.

11. Schachter & Singer made use of a placebo.

Schachter & Singer made use of a placebo - that is, they gave a fake treatment to one group in order to make sure that it was not just the fact that the group was receiving a treatment that led to the change in their behaviour.

12. Case studies often use method triangulation.

Case studies often use method triangulation - that is, more than one research method is used (interview, observation, experiments, etc) in order to guarantee that it was not because of the choice of research method that the results were obtained.

13. Scarr & Weinberg (1977) contradict the findings of the Minnesota Twin Study.

Scarr & Weinberg seem to contradict the findings of the Minnesota Twin Study in that they found that the environment played a highly significant role in the determination of IQ, rather than biological factors.

14. Wahlstein (1997) supports the findings of Scarr & Weinberg (1977).

Wahlstein supports the findings of Scarr & Weinberg because in both cases children's IQ increased by changing their environment.

15. The problem with many health studies of stress is that they are retrospective.

The problem with many health studies of stress is that they are retrospective - that is, we do not know the health of the individual before the stressful life situations, only after. They are also based primarily on self-reporting which can lead to problems due to reconstructive memory.

Critical Thinking Worksheet

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