Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Critical Reading Template

One of the students in my department came to my office the other day. He is part of a study group. The group takes articles from English magazines like Time, Newsweek, National Geographic and so on, and then as a group read and discuss the article. The student confided in me that they don't really know how to go about this and wondered if I could help them. I told the student that I unfortunately do not have the time to devote to the supervision of such a group, but will see if I can come up with a template of questions that they could use. Following are the questions I came up with:

Critical Reading Template

1.       What is the topic of the article? Is the topic focused or is there more than one main topic?

2.       Consider the title of the article:

a.       How does the title relate to the topic of the article?
b.      Is the title clear or unclear?
c.       Does the title have a double-meaning or deeper meaning?

3.       Look at each paragraph. What is its main idea?

4.       Usually writing can be separated into an introduction section, a body section, and a conclusion section. Is it possible to identify these three sections? (Each section may have more than one paragraph.)

5.       In long articles the body section is often divided into subsections. Does this article have subsections? What are the main ideas for each subsection?

6.       Summarize the article in a few sentences (one paragraph). Now, summarize the article in one sentence.

7.       Think about the author’s intentions:
a.       What is the author’s purpose with the article? Is he or she just providing information (explaining something), or is he or she trying to convince you / persuade you of something?
b.      Is the article opinionated? In other words, is it subjective?
c.       How does the author support his or her ideas?
                                                               i.      Does he or she use logical explanations? Are there any scientific or statistical proofs?
                                                             ii.      Are there any emotional language? How does the author feel about the topic? Is the author positive or negative, supportive or critical about the topic?
                                                            iii.      Do you think the author has something personally to gain from the topic?

8.       How does the conclusion of the article make you feel? Do you agree with the conclusion in particular or the article in general?

9.       What do you think the article is missing? Are there any extra details that you would have wanted to have?  Do you have any questions for the author?

10.   How does the article (opinions, information, etc.) affect your context? (How does it apply to your life, your work, your country, and so on?)

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