HCRI130000, R22–0966; Critical Reading and Analysis

Library for Educators
3 min readSep 27, 2022

Supporting materials

  • Slides/materials: slides
  • Other materials used: paper, hand-out of the ‘Save the Children’ quote.


  • Group: 100
  • Length: 2hrs
  • Room: any
  • Discipline: any — example excerpt from article can be switched for another to suit the discipline
  • Level: any — ideas discussed can be matched to the responses of the group.

Learning outcomes

After engaging with this support, you will be able to:

Understand the difference between description and analysis, and when to use them.

Critically analyse texts to understand their argument(s) and assumption(s).

Reflect on your own thinking and analysis.

Suggested online resources

MLE — Thinking, reading and writing critically.

MLE — Getting Started with Literature Reviews.

Session content


Often feedback on essays asks for more analysis and less description. This session is designed to help you think about, and incorporate, critical analysis into your writing.

We will explore critical analysis through both developing a practice and also reflecting on how we produce our own arguments.

Introductory activity:

Ask the group what they think the difference is between description and analysis.

Description — gives context — this is still important to provide the reader with some background, but it should not be the majority of the writing.

Analysis — the ‘so what’ bit — this is where criticality comes in to the writing and should make up most of the writing. It is where any logical inconsistencies in the argument are worked through and discussed, any limitations to the argument, and also the wider implications.

Activity 2:

What does it mean to think critically?

To be asked of the group.

Go through that this connects to the earlier discussion of analysis (using slide 6). It is about questioning the text and any assumptions the argument may be based on.

Introduce the critical thinking model (slide 7) as a possible way to help structure a approach to analysis.

Framing: This is the ‘learn’ part; we are going to think about how to go about engaging with something new — what questions we ask of it and of ourselves.

Activity 3: Show the image of the reflective sphere and ask the group to write down all that they can see from the image. Can also ask where it is — see if they know.

Activity 4: Hand with Reflecting Sphere

Framing: going to progress the critical analysis model, still thinking about a reflecting sphere, but now within a piece of art.

For the activity — firstly, what can you see from the image? This is the description part (slide 11).

Then, (slide 12) does the text add anything to what you have already written down? Do you agree with the text?

Brief discussion of the ideas from the group.

Framing: Now going to think about how to take this thinking and put it in to a piece of writing, (slide 13).

Talk through how a paragraph should work, which is emblematic of a piece of writing.

Activity 5 (slide 14): Use the critical thinking model. Can fold paper into three, or create three columns on a word document.

Using what we have discussed, fill out the three columns.

Can go through (slide 15) as an example.

Framing: Next step within the critical thinking model. Now going to develop this thinking and trace an argument through an excerpt. What we are looking for here are how claims to a similar idea change through the paragraph, and any assumptions which the argument is based on.

Work through (slide 17). Ask the students about each colour-coded sentence.

Can then fill in the template (slide 18).

Summary and concluding slides.

Re-iterate that critical thinking is about practising! MLE workshops and online resources to support.

Internal ID: R22–0966



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