Quantitative Review of an Article

Tun Myint, Carleton College
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This material was developed as part of the Carleton Teaching Activity Collection and is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project


For this assignment, students will select one academic article out of five designated articles which are also assigned readings for the course. Students will read selected article critically and write a review of the article. This review essay should contain two components: (1) the assessment of the author's main argument or thesis statement by reviewing how the author(s) uses both qualitative and quantitative evidences in the articles; and (2) the assessment of the use, misuse, and missed-use of quantitative evidences and the assumptions behind the numbers.

Learning Goals

  1. to introduce quantitative critical thinking in reading.
  2. to learn how to write with quantitative evidences by learning by doing (in this case is doing quantitative analytical review of an academic article).
  3. to prepare for the main assignment of this course which requires understanding and the use of quantitative evidences and critical thinking in writing.

Context for Use

This assignment is an introductory assignment for quantitative critical thinking. This is for a 300-level course at Carleton College. This assignment is appropriate for different levels by tweaking around expectations and requirements. For instance, a freshmen course may use a newspaper report as assignment materials and require students to analyze numerical statements in the report. This introductory assignment should prepare students to engage more in-depth thinking and writing with numbers (quantitative evidences) for the major assignment of the course which requires students to analyze and interpret quantitative evidences and communicate findings to the readers.

Description and Teaching Materials

Chapters from two books below are selected for this assignment.

Brian Walker and David Salt, Resilience Thinking: Sustaining Ecosystems and People in a Changing World, Island Press, 2006.

Andrew E. Dessler and Edward A. Parson, The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change: A guide to the debate, Cambridge University Press, 2006 and 2008.

Teaching Notes and Tips

In teaching students how to critically review articles quantitatively, I will use passages from past student papers and news paper reports that demonstrate the use, misuse, and missed use of quantitative evidences. One academic article from the readings for the course will be used to demonstrate this purpose. In so doing, class discussion led by instructor's guided questions will be one of the strategies to illustrate this quantitative critical review of an article.


The assessment will be made throughout revisions of writing assignments and final paper of the course.

References and Resources