Critical Thinking AS A2 at Elizabeth Woodville School
Critical Thinking is a relatively new but well established and popular AS course that is highly regarded by universities, colleges and employers.
The course offers training in essential critical skills, including analysis of arguments, evaluation of patterns of reasoning, assessing credibility of evidence and reconstructing and presenting arguments. Important skills are learned through class study, practice and application. Critical skills can be applied in nearly all subject areas – humanities, languages, sciences and arts – and Critical Thinking is compatible with virtually anycombination of AS/A2 courses.During the course you will learn to identify the main elements of reasoning; to evaluate reasoning of different kinds; to recognise assumptions and analyse them critically; to clarify ideas and to present arguments effectively and coherently.You will use a variety of materials, including texts from books, magazines and newspapers, TV and radio programmes, feature films, transcripts from court cases, political speeches, debates and so on. Lessons typically involve introduction to and practice of essential skills; discussion and debate; use of video, PowerPoint and small-group presentations. From time to time students will prepare short projects involving research using the Internet and library resources.Critical Thinking (CT) is a recent addition to A level subjects and new materials are constantly being produced to support it. We will make use of the latest text books and other workbooks as they become available. A2 differs from AS by the greater challenge presented through the nature and depth of material studied, the greater complexity of the reasoning involved, the wider range of arguments and argument types, the variety of contexts and issues encountered, and the complexity of the concepts dealt with. A2 level will extend beyond the AS, therefore, in terms of complexity and higher-level skills. At A2, candidates may be required to evaluate the use of images, symbols and other non-verbal stimuli in reasoning, for example those in news reporting, advertising, and political and similar cartoons. Students should be prepared to examine and comment on substantial pieces of text, so it is essential that he/she has a good command of English language. Within unit 3 we shall include a study of ethical theories such as utilitarianism and deontology and apply these to the resolution of dilemmas. Students are expected to make presentations to the class by means of powerpoint presentations, talks and discussions. As with AS Critical Thinking, we make wide use of various media available including interactive whiteboard, film, documentaries, recorded debates, etc. Text books are used by students throughout the course. We also aim to visit a local magistrates court in order to investigate how legal dilemmas are dealt with including criminal investigations. As with AS Critical Thinking, the skills learned at A2 level will help with other subjects studied as well as contributing to skills essential in any work environment. These skills include the ability to recognise and evaluate explanatory arguments and arguments justifying decisions about a course of action, applying a decision-making framework to a real-life issue and constructing a continuum of choices in order to resolve a dilemma.
What skills do I need to have to cope with the course?You would need to be very confident in basic English skills and ideally have at least a grade C at GCSE level in that subject. You would also need to be able to analyze and critically examine texts and real-life situations.
There is no coursework. Assessment is by a final written examination, consisting of two papers:Paper 1. This consists of two sections. In Section A, you will have 16 multiple choice questions. In Section B, you will have two passages to read and a series of 6 questions to answer on each one. Paper 2. This contains three questions. For Question 1 you have to write a reasoned case concerning a dispute. For Question 2 you have to evaluate a long argument. For Question 3 you also have to evaluate a long argument. However, this time it is not divided up into parts. Instead, you are just given advice as to how to proceed.A2 Critical Thinking follows on from the AS course with two further units: Resolution of Dilemmas (Unit 3) and Critical Reasoning (Unit 4). Students will sit one written examination for each unit. In unit 3, candidates will be required to answer questions based on stimulus material and also produce an extended piece of writing. For unit 4, students will answer twenty multiple choice questions and produce a further piece of extended writing based upon material given in the examination.
CT is an important skill required by some universities who now also require prospective students to sit an entrance examination in the subject. It is important if you wish to study Law at degree level, and would also be useful for many other university courses.
How will CT benefit me?You will learn skills which can be applied in other subjects you are studying. You will learn skills enabling you to see beyond what other people see and examine assumptions, flaws, weaknesses in arguments, how to make an argument stronger, clarifying meanings, evaluating analogies and principles, evaluating the credibility of evidence and more. You will become more proficient in your ability to perceive, understand and evaluate texts and situations you encounter.
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Elizabeth Woodville School directly.