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Evaluating online sources

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 15 Nov 2011, 15:52

Some useful guidelines can be found here:


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Patrick Andrews

Taunton Day School Handout 2

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Friday, 20 May 2011, 16:24

This is the second handout from the Taunton day school with brief notes in  italics.

Using grammatical analysis to be critical




1 To examine how texts with a strong stance can be analysed in terms of the course concepts you have covered.

2 To have an awareness of how these texts can be changed and the effects these would have.


A text with a clear position expressed


As you read through the text, fill in the following table:


Field of the text










Read through the text and underline what you think are significant indicators of the stance of the writers of this text.  How are they trying to manipulate/persuade the readers?

Some things to notice:

Stance - our

Governments would be selected ..... (cf "We would select.... )


placement of Australia (trying to hide a big country?)


Our current tried and tested voting system gives everyone one vote and delivers clear outcomes. The Alternative Vote is a complicated, expensive and unfair system that gives some people more votes than others. It might sound like a small change but the danger is in the detail – it's a politicians' fix.

Governments would be selected (espistemic) through backroom deals and people would have no control over where their vote goes. It should be (deontic) voters that decide who the best candidate is, not the voting system. Defend one person, one vote. Vote NO to AV on 5 May.

Why Vote No

AV is costly
The change to AV will cost up to an additional £250 million. Local councils would have to waste money on costly electronic vote counting machines and expensive voter education campaigns. With ordinary families facing tough times can we really afford to spend a quarter of a billion pounds of taxpayers' money bringing in a new voting system? Schools and hospitals, or the Alternative Vote – that's the choice in this referendum.

AV is complex and unfair
The winner should be the candidate that comes first, but under AV the candidate who comes second or third can actually be elected. That’s why it is used by just three countries in the world – Fiji, Australia and Papua New Guinea . Voters should decide who the best candidate is, not the voting system. We can't afford to let the politicians off the hook by introducing a loser's charter.

AV is a politician's fix
AV leads to more hung parliaments, backroom deals and broken promises like the Lib Dem tuition fees U-turn. Instead of the voters choosing the government, politicians would hold power. Under AV, the only vote that really counts is Nick Clegg's. We can't afford to let the politicians decide who runs our country.

Vote NO to AV on 5 May 2011

NOtoAV is a campaign that has support from right across the country. Members of the public, trade unionists and members of several political parties are part of a campaign that has a common goal. Whilst we have many different views on what system of elections is best for Britain, we all believe that the Alternative Vote (AV) system will only damage Britain 's democracy


http://www.no2av.org/why-vote-no/ (accessed 4th May 2011)


Try making changes that will make the stance the opposite to the one given in the text. For example “Our current tried and tested voting system gives everyone one vote and delivers clear outcomes” could be changed to “Their old fashioned discredited system gives some people power and delivers unfair outcomes”.


How would you classify the kinds of changes you make?


Analysing an example of a text with the opposing position


How would you go about analyzing the position exemplified in the text below?




How is it similar to or different from the first text?



What are alternative verbs that could be used for the underlined ones and what difference would they make?



 Things to note

- change of "must" in headline to "should".

- high density of the word "conservative" in the last two paragraphs. 


Britainmust change its electoral system – or slump back to Ukania

The AV system isn't/  might not be ideal, but it's the best choice we have. Voters should seize this opportunity: it will not come again




Today, Britain holds what is only its second national referendum, and the first to be unconditionally binding. It's a big day. Any British voter who wants this country to move towards a more open and responsive political system should turn out to say yes to the introduction of the alternative vote in general elections. That's a small first step, but others would follow.

Illustration by Matt Kenyon

If, as most opinion polls now suggest, the Noes have it, this will be a victory not just for the Conservatives, as a party, but for a small-c conservative, English view of how Britainshould be. It will be the political counterpart of last week's royal wedding. Those of us who want constitutional reform that keeps the baby of British traditions, but throws out the dirty bathwater, will be dunked right back in that bathwater. The conservative, English-dominated, ramshackle kingdom of Ukania (to borrow the Scottish writer Tom Nairn's ironic coinage) will endure, until eventually one of its constituent parts – probably Scotland – decides that enough is enough.n

It is amazing how the anger at the dysfunctional, corrupt old politics of Westminster , which exploded in 2009 over the issue of MPs' expenses, seems to have evaporated. "Our political system is broken," said the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition programme for government, published less than a year ago, and signed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg. Our system is broken – so don't fix it, says Cameron now, campaigning vigorously against electoral reform, stuffing an unreformed House of Lords with party placelings, and insisting only on a redrawing of constituency boundaries that benefits his party. Joining him to defend the first-past-the-post electoral system, many Labour veterans show themselves to be conservatives under the skin.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/05/av-electoral-reform-for-best (Accessed 5th May 2011)




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Patrick Andrews

Being critical

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Edited by Patrick Andrews, Tuesday, 5 Apr 2011, 10:24

This is a tricky aspect for some students and I think it might need some clarification.  I think Poulson and Wallace is useful

Poulson and Wallace (2004: 6) suggest that it is important to:


·         Have a sceptical attitude towards your own and other people’s knowledge and how it has been produced

·         Have a habit of questioning knowledge and how this is produced

·         Scrutinise claims and check the evidence for them

·         Respect others’ points of view

·         Be open minded

·         Be constructive.


I think all of these points are useful.  Some students on courses I have taught on have seemed to think it is mainly about finding fault and criticise texts for not being totally different kinds of texts.

Poulson L and Wallace M (2004) Learning to read critically in Teaching and Learning London: Sage.

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