How to Write a Critical Evaluation for Psychology

In: Philosophy and Psychology

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Critical Evaluation in Psychology:
A Guide for Students
Author: Julie Hulme
1. Introduction
This guide has been written by Dr. Julie Hulme (j.a.hulme@staffs.ac.uk; tel 4674). A modified version of this document can be found as follows:
Hulme J.A. (2004) Critical Evaluation: A Student Guide. Psychology Review, 10:6-8.
1.1 What will this handout help me with?
In Psychology, students are often asked to show evidence of “critical evaluation” in their work.
Many students find this difficult, and even those who are told they do it well, often do not understand what it is they are doing! This article is designed to teach you a little about how to evaluate critically, and what it really means! It is only an introduction––with practice, you will learn to develop this important skill for yourself, and you should find that your ability to evaluate critically improves throughout your undergraduate years.

1.2 What is critical evaluation?
Critical evaluation is a process of assessing the relative merit of a piece of work, which may have been presented as a journal article, in a text book, on the internet, in a radio or television article, or in just about any other format (for academic purposes, this will usually be written, but could include seminar presentations). You are being asked to decide and discuss what is good, and what is bad, about the arguments being presented to you. Critical evaluation is not about picking fault, it is about deciding how useful and worthwhile the work, methodology and the arguments presented are; deciding how much the work has contributed to your understanding, or the world’s understanding, of a topic. The crucial word is “evaluate”––to measure the value of something. You will find it extremely useful to be able to critically evaluate your own work, or to work together with a peer to do so for each other, and so identify and improve on weaknesses…...

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