Critical Practice: Graphics and Illustration (GRAP 2022) Critical reading and writing

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1 Critical Practice: Graphics and Illustration (GRAP 2022) Critical reading and writing Rita Frangiosa Language and Learning Adviser (EASS) Learning and Teaching Unit

2 Aims of session Overview of assignment requirements Argumentative essays what s involved? Essays Critical thinking in reading Critical thinking in writing

3 Critical thinking and it s application in Assignment 3 Consider how it fits into this course s assignments. Information in Course Outline sheds light on this. Think about: Which course objective(s) is the assignment linked to? What does this mean in terms of what you will need to focus on? Being aware of this puts you in a better position to answer the question.

4 What is being assessed Course Outline For this assignment, all 3 Course Objectives (COs) are being assessed: CO1. Discuss the development of design practice in relation to its theory and theoretical concepts CO2. Identify significant social and technological factors that have shaped design practice in historical areas CO3. Demonstrate a critical awareness of past and present issues influencing current practice

5 Assessment #3 Argumentative essay (Aim) To produce a piece of written work that is an informed critical analysis of an existing published piece (or body of work) of visual communication. Place that work in its social and historical context to analyse its relevance, purpose, and effectiveness within that context as well as the intent and position of the work, the client and the designer through the discourses that surround and are interwoven in relation to the selected work. Demonstrate a theoretical approach to and critical awareness of social conditions, technological factors and/or historical circumstances that have influenced and/or are reflected in design practice and design discourse.

6 Assessment #3 Argumentative essay (Method) Investigate several pieces of contemporary visual communication that interest you and then settle on one to examine in depth. Consider when and for whom it was produced and in what ways that may have impacted the design process, the designer's position and the outcome. Consider: Is it effective in the light of its context of use? In what way has it considered the audience or has it fallen short? Is it contextually appropriate? How and why? Is it evident that the designer used valid research methods? How? What may have informed and/or limited these methods (e.g. psychology, linguistics, sociology, history, cultural factors, social and economic conditions)? Is the designer present in the work? In what way? What might this positioning imply about her/his role and/or approach, or place in history?

7 Assessment #3 Argumentative essay (Method) To write a coherent and well-structured essay, you must use an outline. Use your outline to build and present your argument in a logical way. Initial drafts of your outline are likely to be short and state only your basic framework. Build up your argument by adding more specific claims and include the evidence used to support your claims in your outline. Be sure to support all claims with evidence and consider how you might refute contradictory arguments. The more detail you include in your outline as you produce subsequent drafts, the easier it will be when you begin drafting your final essay.

8 What is meant by an argumentative essay? An argumentative essay is: a persuasive piece of writing which presents an informed position on an analysed topic and then: - develops, explains and supports this based on evidence from reliable and academic sources. (So that it is clear why and how the writer has developed that point of view). - all acknowledged using a referencing system. The writer has to be: objective, precise, logical concerned to show the strength of the evidence open minded and able to see other points of view.

9 Thinking involved in addressing the task (1) think broadly - helps you see the big picture. - consider different points of view on the topic - brainstorm and arrange possibilities e.g. What are the social conditions that have influenced design practice and design discourse ; Which sources have this info.? think critically about what you read. - evaluate the reliability of the sources - examine the arguments provided in detail - ask critical questions e.g. Is one writer/theorist more relevant to the body of work chosen? Why? How? ; Are there other elements of the argument which may be more or equally important?

10 Thinking involved in addressing the task (2) think analytically - connect evidence directly to the question or the task. So: - avoid just stating the evidence; explain how it is relevant or significant to the question - plan, read and take notes thinking this way. e.g. How does this body of work reflected the social conditions reflected in design practice/ discourse? In what ways does it do this?

11 What s the link between critical thinking and essay writing? To show critical thinking in an argumentative essay, need to show that you can: see where there are similarities and differences between various points of view identify contentious issues apply the ideas in different contexts

12 What critical thinkers do: Reason looking at implications of information & giving reasons for opinions; Enquire systematically collect information from a variety of sources; Analyse sort, classify and compare ideas; Are Flexible transfer known information to another area and accept multiple answers, and Evaluate judge credibility of resources, locate inconsistencies and faulty reasoning. Skills are also associated with the ways learners approach tasks. In assignment writing, need to read sources then sort, classify and compare the ideas before using them in your assignment.

13 Critical reading vs critical thinking how different? Critical reading and critical thinking work together. - Critical thinking allows us to monitor our understanding as we read. On the other hand, critical thinking depends on critical reading. - can think critically about a text (critical thinking), only if you have understood it (critical reading). - may choose to accept or reject a presentation, but must know why.

14 How to make it an informed critical analysis? To demonstrate a consistent, well structured point of view and be persuasive - need to categorise ideas carefully. Spend time thinking, analysing, planning and organising. 1. Analysing the task and question will need to go back to this more than once (see Model of essay writing process ). 2. Reading broadly - familiarise yourself with issues being discussed. 3. Tentatively committing to your position May change or alter slightly after more reading

15 Models of essay writing process Essay writing - not usually a linear process - can involve a lot of backtracking (or looping). Image taken from: Marshall, L 1999, A Learning Companion (3rd edn), Murdoch University, Perth, p.259.

16 How to make it an informed critical analysis? 4. Reading narrowly for specific detail If taking notes, note why you are recording information. Ask: In which section of my essay will I use this information? or What point of my argument will this evidence support/refute? 5. Make a more specific plan - develop an outline for essay body. 6. Write a draft 7. Revise and edit - Edit work critically, make notes before completing final version.

17 Feeling stuck? Brainstorm ideas! What ideas come to mind that you might need to address? What terms/concepts do you need to define? Which writers/ theories/ etc. do you need to refer to? Which key text/sources need to be included? What guidance/guiding questions have you been given? How to support the claims I am making? What other questions would help in your brainstorming? Can some be grouped together? Is there a common theme to the grouping? What order/structure would take the reader through the argument in a logical way? This becomes the beginnings of the outline/plan for essay. Use it to see: how you might structure your essay and where there may be gaps in what you know or your argument.

18 Steps to a well structured paragraph Group or categorise information into themes - becomes 1 paragraph. Each paragraph argues one point to support overall point of view - all of the information relevant to that point is in the same paragraph. For each paragraph decide: what is the main point you want to make? what is the evidence/ theory/ research supporting this point? write a topic sentence for each point. Gaps in evidence? Go back, do more reading and note-taking.

19 Structuring the essay Introduction: 10% of word limit Write after writing body Start with some general or background statements on topic Defines the scope (what your paper will include) Include your main idea/argument/position/thesis statement Indicate how you intend to answer the question Define key terms if necessary Body: 80% of word limit A series of points that support the main idea Develop each point as a paragraph Conclusion: 10 % of word limit Summarise the main points Restate your thesis statement Show how you have answered the question

20 Source unknown

21 Achieving cohesion in writing Keep in mind that 1 paragraph = 1 idea Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence which states the main idea of that paragraph. (What point are you making in this paragraph?) Supporting sentences (evidence, explanations, etc.) expand on the topic sentence then need to be arranged in a logical order. Ideas should be linked by the use of appropriate connectors which clearly show the relationship between the ideas in sentences.

22 Linking ideas connectors and linking words Use words from the question to give a cohesive framework to answer. Clarify the relationship between ideas. Use words (signposts) that express that relationship e. g. an example of this is, by way of contrast, a further development was See Words and phrases used to structure the line of reasoning (Cottrell 2005, p. 178). Use known information (that connects with previously discussed ideas) at the beginning of sentences; introduce new information later in the sentence. Refer explicitly to previously given information e.g. a variation on this theme

23 a) Englis proposes the nature of beauty is entirely dependent upon the contents of human consciousness. 4 b) Goines, Englis and Forbes all argue that what is defined as beautiful is culturebound. 5 c) Thus beauty ideals and the subsequent representations reflect the historical and social context of a culture, particularly social priorities, 8 gender roles and the dominant ideology at a certain moment. 9 d) Although there are valid attributes such as symmetry, the dramatic changes in beauty ideals over time and the variations between cultures indicate that beauty ideals are cultural constructs. 7 e) Firstly, it is important to understand why ideal beauty is a cultural construct and to do this, the nature of beauty itself and the relevant discussions must be understood. f) Englis takes this a step further arguing that thus ideal beauty is not only culture bound, it is culturally constructed. 6 g) This cultural construct of ideal beauty dominates the scientific ideas of biological physical attractiveness. How would you re-order the sentences to produce a cohesive piece of writing? Correct order: e, a, b, f, g, d, c,

24 e) Firstly, it is important to understand why ideal beauty is a cultural construct and to do this, the nature of beauty itself and the relevant discussions must be understood. a) Englis proposes the nature of beauty is entirely dependent upon the contents of human consciousness. 4 b) Goines, Englis and Forbes all argue that what is defined as beautiful is culturebound. 5 f) Englis takes this a step further arguing that thus ideal beauty is not only culture bound, it is culturally constructed. 6 g) This cultural construct of ideal beauty dominates the scientific ideas of biological physical attractiveness. d) Although there are valid attributes such as symmetry, the dramatic changes in beauty ideals over time and the variations between cultures indicate that beauty ideals are cultural constructs. 7 c) Thus beauty ideals and the subsequent representations reflect the historical and social context of a culture, particularly social priorities, 8 gender roles and the dominant ideology at a certain moment. 9 Markers which help identify sequence and development of content: - Topic sentence general intro. identifies what paragraph will cover. - Englis gives a general def n of beauty - 3 authors identify beauty as culture bound - Englis builds on beauty being culture bound to being culturally constructed - Links beauty to biological physical attractiveness and one of biological physical attractiveness features (symmetry) - Reinforces argument of how and why beauty ideals reflect historical and social contexts of a culture.

25 Critical/analytical writing Identifies the significance Evaluates (judges the value) strengths and weaknesses Weighs one piece of information against another Makes reasoned judgements Argues a case according to evidence Shows why something is relevant or suitable Indicates why something will work (best) Indicates whether something is appropriate or suitable Identifies why the timing is important Weighs up the importance of component parts Gives reason for the selection of each option Evaluates the relative significance of details Structures information in order (e.g. of importance) Shows the relevance of links between pieces of information Draws conclusions Source: Learnhigher 2012.

26 Characteristics of critical, analytical writing (adapted from Cottrell 2005, pp ) Content Writing presents a case by providing reasons, using evidence, comparing and evaluating arguments. Minimum background information is used and only essential details are included. Description is kept to a minimum. A sense of audience Clarity Analysis Selection Sequence Logical order Group similar points Signposting The audience is always kept in mind. Aim of an argument is to persuade others by anticipating points of disagreement and providing evidence to counter potential opposing positions. Aim is to convince the reader - writing must be clear and concise, avoiding emotional language and jargon. Analytical writing looks at the evidence in a detailed and critical manner weighing up strengths and weaknesses of evidence and making it clear to the reader how the writer has arrived at the conclusions. Skilful writers select only the most important or controversial points to examine in detail and regularly summarise the arguments that they are expressing. Information is sequenced in a way that helps the reader to understand the line of reasoning. Good critical writing selects and orders points in a logical order usually starting with those points that support the main argument. Similar points should be grouped together in such a way that it makes the text easy to read. Good critical writing leads the reader through the argument using signpost words to help them know where they are in the sequence of the argument.

27 Firstly, it is important to understand why ideal beauty is a cultural construct and to do this, the nature of beauty itself and the relevant discussions must be understood. Englis proposes the nature of beauty is entirely dependent upon the contents of human consciousness. 4 Goines, Englis and Forbes all argue that what is defined as beautiful is culture-bound. 5 Englis takes this a step further arguing that thus ideal beauty is not only culture bound, it is culturally constructed. 6 This cultural construct of ideal beauty dominates the scientific ideas of biological physical attractiveness. Although there are valid attributes such as symmetry, the dramatic changes in beauty ideals over time and the variations between cultures indicate that beauty ideals are cultural constructs. 7 Thus beauty ideals and the subsequent representations reflect the historical and social context of a culture, particularly social priorities, 8 gender roles and the dominant ideology at a certain moment. 9 One such example with a particular graphic link to social priorities is Prada s Candy advertisement (fig.1). This design places black bars along the top and bottom suggestive of a wide screen film, which refers to the ideal beauty of actresses. The image may also be read as eye candy because of the designer s placement. So the social priorities this advertisement taps into are the importance of beauty as a means of success and a quality to be admired.

28 Firstly, it is important to understand why ideal beauty is a cultural construct and to do this, the nature of beauty itself and the relevant discussions must be understood. Englis proposes the nature of beauty is entirely dependent upon the contents of human consciousness. 4 Goines, Englis and Forbes all argue that what is defined as beautiful is culture-bound. 5 Englis takes this a step further arguing that thus ideal beauty is not only culture bound, it is culturally constructed. 6 This cultural construct of ideal beauty dominates the scientific ideas of biological physical attractiveness. Although there are valid attributes such as symmetry, the dramatic changes in beauty ideals over time and the variations between cultures indicate that beauty ideals are cultural constructs. 7 Thus beauty ideals and the subsequent representations reflect the historical and social context of a culture, particularly social priorities, 8 gender roles and the dominant ideology at a certain moment. 9 One such example with a particular graphic link to social priorities is Prada s Candy advertisement (fig.1). This design places black bars along the top and bottom suggestive of a wide screen film, which refers to the ideal beauty of actresses. The image may also be read as eye candy because of the designer s placement. So the social priorities this advertisement taps into are the importance of beauty as a means of success and a quality to be admired. Identifying group similar points (Cottrell 2005) - Presents a case by providing reasons, using evidence, comparing and evaluating arguments. - Only essential details included. - Description kept to a minimum.

29 Firstly, it is important to understand why ideal beauty is a cultural construct and to do this, the nature of beauty itself and the relevant discussions must be understood. Englis proposes the nature of beauty is entirely dependent upon the contents of human consciousness. 4 Goines, Englis and Forbes all argue that what is defined as beautiful is culture-bound. 5 Englis takes this a step further arguing that thus ideal beauty is not only culture bound, it is culturally constructed. 6 This cultural construct of ideal beauty dominates the scientific ideas of biological physical attractiveness. Although there are valid attributes such as symmetry, the dramatic changes in beauty ideals over time and the variations between cultures indicate that beauty ideals are cultural constructs. 7 Thus beauty ideals and the subsequent representations reflect the historical and social context of a culture, particularly social priorities, 8 gender roles and the dominant ideology at a certain moment. 9 One such example with a particular graphic link to social priorities is Prada s Candy advertisement (fig.1). This design places black bars along the top and bottom suggestive of a wide screen film, which refers to the ideal beauty of actresses. The image may also be read as eye candy because of the designer s placement. So the social priorities this advertisement taps into are the importance of beauty as a means of success and a quality to be admired. Identifying signposting (Cottrell 2005) - leads the reader through the argument using signpost words to help them know where they are in the sequence of the argument.

30 Additional resources L3 Student resources hub ( Assignments, Learning at Uni and Improving your academic skills ): https://lo.unisa.edu.au/course/view.php?id=4074 Cottrell, S 2005, Critical thinking skills, Palgrave McMillan, UK. Mason, M (ed.) 2009, Critical thinking and learning, Wiley-Blackwell, USA.

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