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Intended Learning Outcome:

To use READ Backwards to develop critical thinking techniques


The READ Backwards Technique for critical thinking can be applied to all modules, not just those which require academic writing. For example, it can be used in song analysis, event management etc. By applying it across modules we are helping students to develop a key skill for university study.

Describe – Factual statements describing what happened, what you see and hear.

Analyse – Asking questions such as why this happened, how it happened and what caused it.

Evaluate – Asking so what? what next? what do I think about this? how does this compare to others?

Reflect – Commenting on what you felt/noticed/discovered/realised


Describe the READ Backwards Model to students

Set an activity and ask them to apply the model by asking and answering questions starting with descriptive ones and moving through to reflective

Ask students to share their questions so you can create one large list of questions

If the module has a written assessment you could now ask them to write their observations up.



This could be a song analysis (in Aural Perception, LPW, Songwriting etc.). In Event Management it could be an assessment of a live event they have been to. In Music Business it could be a report on a contract.

Large Group Teaching:

With large groups, you can either run this as a solo activity and then put students into groups to discuss/adjust their questions or you could have small group discussions which contribute to a whole-class activity of generating one list.

Online Teaching:


Students can recall and apply the model to many situations.

Next Steps:

Links to other activities:

Further reading:

Plymouth University Critical Thinking Model:  (accessed 11/7/19)


READ Backwards is adapted from Plymouth University’s Critical Thinking Model.


Handout for students:

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