Critical Reading Tool

How to foster a critical approach to reading texts
open book with eye in the center
Flatart, Iconfinder, edited by Samuel Whitcomb

This tool contains exercises meant to foster a critical approach to reading texts. It can, for example, be used with students during a course while they read (and search for) literature so that they learn to critically assess the positionality of the authors and arguments of the readings. From which position(s), and from which perspective(s) do pieces of knowledge emerge? What are the underlying assumptions and perspectives of a text and how do these relate to your own?

This tool was created by Kathrine van den Bogert, Elke Linders and Nicole Sanches from Utrecht University.

You can find the link to the Critical Reading Tool here.

The tool has three exercises that address three elements of reading text critically:

First engagement with a text

  1. Locate and explain the argument
  2. Assess your first reaction(s) to the text

Underlying perspectives

  1. Look at the author to find underlying perspective

  2. Look at the words to find underlying perspectives

Two methodologies to go about reading a text critically

  1. Reading with the author and understanding the author's perspective
  2. Reading the author critically and engaging the author in an imaginary dialogue

  1. The exercises in the tool help students to form a critical reaction to a text and pose questions that can also serve as a basis for (small) group discussions in a classroom setting.
  2. The comparison and discussion of individual findings might help to locate and become aware of (unexpected) biases and assumptions that we might have ourselves and to investigate how these interact with possible assumptions and biases in each text. 
  3. After following the above-mentioned exercises, students can be asked and encouraged to formulate their critical reading and writing tips.

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