Additional Web Resources
Hosted by the Foundation for Critical Thinking, this site’s goal—at once academic and ethical—is to “make critical thinking a core social value and a key organizing concept for all educational reform.” Working from the concept that “the quality of everything we do is determined by the quality of our thinking” (“Our Mission”), the site aims “to supply the mainstream internet media with substantial content on critical thinking, Socratic questioning, ethical reasoning, egocentric and socio-centric barriers to critical societies and other relevant topics” (“Homepage”).
The site offers a dynamic multimedia approach. Alongside more traditional text-based information and exercises, you’ll enjoy a stimulating mix of audio-visuals, streaming video, and pioneering YouTube presentations on critical thinking. Geared to students as well as educators, it offers practical menu options like “How to Study and Learn” and “The Art of Critical Reading,” alongside more exploratory forums like “Critical Thinking in Everyday Life,” “Becoming a Critic of Your Thinking,” “The Questioning Mind,” and many more.
This is a site replete with interactive links; you not only get to learn about critical thinking, you also get the chance to become a member of its online Critical Thinking community. You can even set up your own personalized member home page to link to all your account settings, password, and profile. This is a resource-rich site you’ll be well repaid by visiting.
Chapter 2 of The Active Reader urges you to distinguish between a cynical reader and a skeptical reader and urges you to develop the habits of skeptical thinking—the spirit of critical enquiry. Facebook, the online social network popular with college and university students, lets you link to the online magazine of the Skeptics Society, “a non-profit scientific and educational organization that advocates for science literacy.”
The Skeptics Society promotes itself as an educational tool, with the goal of fostering critical thinking to aid students—and indeed the general public—better assess the validity of claims made by “bad science, good science . . . and all points in between” (“Company Overview”). This site offers a chance to connect with friends and, at the same time, link up with wider social networks dedicated to the spirit of critical enquiry on all matters topical and academic. Enjoy!
Study Guides and Strategies has been offering student resources on multiple aspects of learning, studying, reading, and writing since 1966. This section of the site is focused specifically on active reading and critical thinking. It provides a clear “How to” focus on core topics like “Thinking Critically,” “Prereading Strategies,” “The Socratic Method,” and “Reading Difficult Material,” as well as a handy section on “Reading Assignments in Science,” plus useful templates for questions and responses when reading a text. For those who prefer an uncluttered, straightforward approach, this site is well worth a visit.
Using English for Academic Purposes: A Guide for Students in Higher Education, is a website affiliated with the University of Hertfordshire (UK). In addition to providing an overview of active reading—its importance, relevance, and value to student success—it provides a host of practice exercises (which you can access by clicking on the “Exercises” menu option on the left sidebar) on scanning, comprehension, note-taking, and summarizing. Clicking on the “Strategies” menu option will also take you to dozens of short readings from biology, economics, chemistry, geography, philosophy, history, politics, mathematics, physics, sociology, psychology, and other subject areas for you to practise active reading strategies. In fact, all the various menu options supply useful, interactive exercises embedded in each and every hyperlink. This site offers a useful, hands-on approach to help you develop practical skills in critical reading.
The Online Writing Lab (OWL) is an easily navigable, up-to-date, expansive website hosted by Purdue University that covers just about everything you might need to help you produce successful university essays. Major topics, all presented as hyperlinks that you can click on, include “‘The Writing Process,” “General Academic Writing,” “Research and Citation,” “Grammar and Mechanics,” “Internet Literacy,” “Writing in the Social Sciences,” plus others. This “Welcome” page gives you access to all these major topic areas and more.
Part of a larger website hosted by the Open University (UK) intended to help students achieve their best academically, this web page covers topics like “Stages in planning assignments,” “Types of Arguments,” and “Understanding the Question.” It offers information on paragraphing, organization, and style, as well as useful links to other sites such as the University of Leeds’ online page, “Essay Writing.” This is a clearly organized university website that provides useful tips and information on how to go about building effective essays.
Capital Community College (Hartford, CT) presents a website that addresses three key components of effective essays: “The Writing Process,” “Structural Considerations,” and “Patterns of Composition.” Across the board, these three components cover topics like the following: overcoming writer’s block; using concrete, specific language; thesis statements; transitions; cause and effect, and many others. Easy to navigate and easy to understand, this website is eminently practical in scope when it comes to the sometimes challenging task of writing college- and university-level essays.
The Skeptic’s Dictionary on logical fallacies is presented as a “Critical Thinking mini-lesson.” Each type of logical fallacy—Begging the Question, False Dilemma, the Non Sequitur, Argument to Ignorance, and so on—is presented as a hyperlink. When you click on a link, you get an explanation and illustration of that fallacy. This lets you see how each type of logical fallacy works and what it looks like in practice. As well, the site offers opportunity to post comments and queries, so you can also engage in discussion about logical fallacies through an interactive forum. To find out all you need to know about the uses and misuses of logic, this is a fun and informative place to go.
This web page on propaganda—which can be usefully thought of as logical fallacies in action in “real world” contexts of media, government, public relations, and so forth—is part of a larger site devoted to exploring global issues. In highlighting the way logical fallacies can be deployed in society, it underlines the larger point that learning to recognize fallacies and biases isn’t merely an academic exercise but is relevant to the wider context of our lives. Topics covered include "Elements of Propaganda," "Propaganda in Democracies," and "Propaganda and War," all worth exploring by the critical reader.
This webpage, “The Seven Steps of the Research Process,” forms part of a much larger site hosted by Cornell University Library that touches on all aspects of student learning, study, research, reading, and writing. This particular page outlines seven steps for finding information for a research paper and for documenting the sources you find in a clear, straightforward way. You’ll find both text-based and audio-visual resources (offered on the site through hyperlinks), so you can explore the research process in as much or as little detail as you need, depending on your current level of know-how.
“Son of Citation Machine,” an online citation manager, will help you properly cite and document your sources, using the four major citation styles: APA, MLA, Turabian, and Chicago. Few students can survive without an online citation manager, and this one is freely available on the web to help you do just that.
This site, hosted by Cornell University library services, is devoted to helping you distinguish scholarly journals from other types of periodicals (such as special interest magazines and “highbrow” reviews which can appear scholarly but are not, in fact, peer-reviewed). Journals and magazines are obviously important sources for up-to-date information in all disciplines, but it’s also important to be able to differentiate between the various levels of scholarship found in them. This website groups periodicals under four key categories (Scholarly, News General Interest, Popular, and Sensational), and you can explore the characteristics of each category through text-based explanations and audio-visual components. For a well-rounded, user-friendly overview of the important differences between scholarly and non-scholarly publications that all students should be familiar with, this is an undoubtedly useful resource.