798 – Short Critique / Class Activity

Short Critique

This class has many texts; doctoral students will help the class understand one of these texts by reading it together and presenting the relevant work to the class as a whole. Students will be responsible for preparing a presentation that depicts the text’s main contribution to the subject of the class as well as a class handout or equivalent media that contains a complete reference, research questions/goals, methods used, findings, strengths and weaknesses and a recommendation for what sort of projects the text would be useful for tackling.

Deliverables

  • Run class for about an hour and 15 of class time
    • Lecture
    • Questions / Engagement activity
  • Short critique handout

Lecture

Because the majority of students in the class have not read the piece, you will have to explain and situate the work within the themes and learning objectives of the class. I highly encourage you to develop a powerpoint presentation to help students take notes and see connections. Feel free to selectively mirror the structure of your short critique handout as you see fit.

Questions (prompts for class discussions) & Engagement activity

[you are free to use group work if you like] develop a series of discussion-provoking queries, make connections to teaching experience, potential research applications, and other possible questions to pursue that can extend the work of your critique. In mixed 500/700 courses, provide an illustrative in class assignment that links article content to other course readings/assignments. Create an illustrative engagement activity that helps students synthesize concepts of the article to other readings in the class.

Short critique handout format 

This is the format in which I ask you to write up your short critiques. Please try to keep the critiques to 2-3 pp, single space. When you lead class discussion/activity, please bring a copy of your critique for each class member as well as a slide show for the class to follow along. A copy of your critique is due to by the Friday before your presentation. Not everything you are asked critique fits neatly into this outline for articles. If that is the case for your reading, I encourage you to adapt, improvise, and overcome.

Title:

Author(s):

Source:

Research Question(s): [these are usually, but not always, explicitly stated somewhere in the abstract or in the introductory portion of the text—and sometimes you will find questions that are implicit as well]

Answer(s) to Research Questions: [these are stated at various points in the “results” section, as well as in conclusions]

Key Related Studies and Underlying Assumptions: (list the key citations for the studies that the authors use to build a historical and theoretical framework in which the current study is meaningful. Briefly describe the connections that the researchers are making: what dose these cited studies allow them to do? What is the theoretical or methodological point they are making?

Subjects/Participants (and how they were selected: [This information should be in the abstract, introduction, and/or “methods” section –when people are not involved, your focus should be on describing data/evidence collected]

Method of Research: [use course readings to help you identify the approach used in the study. In this section of your critique, just a term or phrase will do. Describe the approach in careful detail under “data collection” and “mode of analysis”—see below]

Data/Evidence Collected: [look for this information in the “methods” section of the report. Carefully describe what information the researcher gathered: interview data, archival materials, protocols, pre- and post-tests, field notes from observations, etc. Sometimes there will be many kinds of information, especially in qualitative studies]

Mode of Analysis Applied to Data/Evidence: [Although the researchers should include careful, explicit discussions of how they analyzed their data, sometimes, especially in historical research, they do not. Do your best to extract the process of analysis that the researchers went through, and use the other readings to help you understand what they should have done: what statistical tests did they apply? What do they mean when they report that they analyzed the data “inductively”? When they looked at texts, what were they looking for and counting? How were they categorizing data? Be sure to include all steps or stages. Trace the associations.]

Results: [these are usually accorded their own section. Be careful to distinguish between the actual outcomes of the research and the interpretations that the researchers craft from the outcome – the later are conclusions and implications]

Conclusions: [these usually appear in the abstract and in their own section; what meanings do the researchers see the results holding? How do the researchers tie their results to existing research reviewed in the work?]

Implications: [what broader means do the study’s results hold? How do they add to, refine, contradict current theory/practice/research findings? Be on the lookout for over-extensions here –squirrelly arguments made from little actual data]

Strengths and limitations of the Study: (use the other readings, and other sources  of information you might know to test the study as a whole: do the methods of the collection and analysis “fit” the research question? Do the conclusions seem warranted by the results? Does the study follow solid procedures? If it adopts a new approach does the, does the adaptation seem sound? Are there strong associations between the theories invoked and the methods applied? Be careful to evaluate the work first on its own terms e.g. don’t denigrate an experimental study as a bad example of case study research.

Questions (prompts for class discussions) / Engagement activity: [you are free to use group work if you like] develop a series of discussion-provoking queries, make connections to teaching experience, potential research applications and other possible questions to pursue that can extend the work of your critique. In mixed 500/700 courses, provide an illustrative in class assignment that links article content to other course readings/assignments.