A case study
Here is a Book Review written by a member of staff at Westminster Institute of Education (Oxford Brookes University) and submitted for publication in the Journal Evangelical Quarterly. With reference to the points made in the previous section, read it through and analyse how it approaches the task of providing an objective, critical overview of the book. Make some notes; you can then compare them with the feedback provided later. You might like to construct a series of columns entitled 'critical comments', 'use of language', 'level', and others as you feel appropriate.
As before, follow the link below to access the text in PDF form.
Click here for feedback to the task.
Now stand back from the Review a little and ask whether you think it has provided you with a reasonably thorough and yet objective overview of it. What factors contributed both to its success in doing that, and, perhaps, its weaknesses?
Critical thinking in Book Reviews is all about providing a succinct and objective overview of the contents of a book. It is the need for objectivity which requires reviewers to be critical as well as affirming. The two sections of this session thus far have suggested categories of critical thinking that can function as useful handles, giving you ways in which this can be introduced into your own work. If you would like to look at other examples, the links below will take you to websites where reviews written by another member of Westminster Institute of Education staff have been posted.
A review of John Coffey, Persecution and Toleration in Protestant England 1558-1689, Studies in Modern History, London: Longman, 2000.
A review of David Daniell, The Bible in English: Its History and Influence, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003.
A review of N. J. G. Pounds, A History of the English Parish: The Culture of Religion from Augustine to Victoria, New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
A review of Doreen Rosman, The Evolution of the English Churches, 1500-2000, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
A review of Bryan D. Spinks, Sacraments, Ceremonies, and the Stuart Divines: Sacramental Theology and Liturgy in England and Scotland, 1603-1662, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002
Take a moment or two to look at one or more and see how the writer has critically assessed it/them.
Critical thinking is, in part, a technique and skill that can be fostered. However, taking it one step further, it can also be a 'spirit' or an attitude. This is closely linked to people's individual epistemologies. The next section explores this further.