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Source-Based Questions Skills-20151005181254

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Source Based Case Study – Deconstructing Sources
1 Inference – What is the source trying to tell me? Inference? Does this mean describing? •
Yes and no. Describing what you see/read from the source is just one of the steps required to answer an inferential question. − An inference is what you conclude from the sources, an ‘educated guess’ that can be supported with evidence. Example 1 – Describing what you see is not inferring. The following photograph is a representation of the population issue in Singapore. From the source, what can you infer about Singapore’s population in 2030? − I can infer that Singapore’s population will require 3 MRT trains. X − I can infer that to live with 7 million people in Singapore, we need to redesign our MRT. X ‘3 MRT trains’ and ‘redesign our MRT’ are what you can see from the source. This is a description, not an inference. For such a question, you are expected to: 1. Comprehend and extract the relevant information; 2. Draw appropriate deductions/conclusions from the given information; and 3. Analyse and evaluate evidence to support the deductions/conclusions made. Thus, in the case of this question, an example of a response should be: 1. I can infer that Singapore’s population in 2030 will be larger than it is now. 2. The source shows that 3 MRT trains are required to transport people in 2030 although only 1 is needed now. 3. This suggests that the size of the population in 2030 will put a strain on Singapore’s transport infrastructure. 4. Hence, improvements in the form of expansion to the current public transport carrying capacity is required to sustain the population in 2030. 263 Tanjong Katong Rd #01-­‐07, Tel: 6702 0118 1 How do I identify an inferential question? The following are some common ways that inferential questions are designed. Of course, the list is not exhaustive. • What does Source A tell you about…? • What is the message of Source B? • Why do you think the artist drew the cartoon in Source C? • What is the cartoonist trying to show in Source D? • What can you learn from Source E about the issue of …? • Is Source F for or against the issue? • Does Source E support the view that…? How should I go about answering an inferential question? Step 1 [L2] *L1 involves a plain description of the source. E.g. Source A shows a cartoon about ____. Always aim to go straight to L2. Make an inference (unsupported) • Source A tells me that the (subject) is (adjective). Ø E.g. Source A tells me that the (Tamil Tigers) are (violent). Ø Source A tells me that the (health care system in Singapore) is (comprehensive). 2m Step 2 [L3] Support your inference • Source A tells me that the government takes a long time to properly prepare their ministers for the job. • This can be seen as Lee Kuan Yew mentioned the long process of grooming that a candidate has to go through in order to “ensure that the minister’s abilities of judgment and trust and developed and tested” 4m – two inferences, both supported. 3-­‐4m Step 3 [L4] Explain the inference(s) you have made • This suggests that the government spends time and resources to groom the best people to help formulate policies for Singapore. 5-­‐6m What if the question requires me to identify the purpose the source? Ask yourself these questions: • What is the writer’s intention? (Action) • Who is the targeted Audience? • What is the desired reaction from the audience (usually NOT you!)? • What is the intended outcome of the reaction? (Achievement) Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 2 Example – A photograph posted on STOMP (an online journalism web portal) by a member of the public followed by a short description of the incident. "I saw a young helpful school boy aged around nine years old -­‐ presumably wearing Ngee Ann Primary School's uniform -­‐ running toward an old Chinese male with difficulty in walking. There were around 15 adults walking past that poor old man but no one came forward to help. This amazed me; that such a young boy can spare a thought for others when the adults just don't bother. Bravo, young boy! … I saw his name tag as ELKIN ARAIKI." Question 1 What is the photographer’s intention? (Action) • The photographer wants to raise awareness of the boy’s actions. Question 2 Who is the targeted audience? • Members of the public, the online community Question 3 What is the desired reaction from the Audience? • Feel embarrassed if they have ever ignored someone in need. • Feel impressed that a young boy has the initiative to help others. • Feel touched that the kind-­‐hearted people exist in the next generation of Singaporeans. Question 4 What is the intended outcome of the reaction? (Achievement) • Hope that adults will be mindful of others around them. • Members of the public/Ngee Ann Primary to praise the boy. • Everyone else to feel inspired to help others in need. Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 3 2 Comparison – In what way(s) are the sources similar or different? Comparing sources involves putting two sources side by side in order to see to that extent are they similar or different. Sounds easy, but this is deceptive. A lot of students fall victim to comparison-­‐
type questions because of one or more of the potentially fatal mistakes below. Mistake 1: Failing to establish a common basis of comparison • The basis of comparison of two different sources is the elements that are common to both sources. “I prefer playing badminton to playing soccer. Badminton is an indoor sport. Hence, I do not have to play under the harmful rays of the sun. I do not really enjoy soccer because the ball tends to hit me in the face.” •
There is no basis of comparison in this statement. Hence, the comparison is a failed one. Take a look at the following statements and identify the basis of comparison. Mistake 2: Writing two mini summaries of the sources being compared • Some students summarise the source instead of comparing them. This is often done by listing points instead of analysing them. For example, consider the answer below. “I think that Sources A and B are similar to a large extent. Source A suggests that the Tamil Tigers are responsible for the conflict in Sri Lanka. It mentioned that they Tamil Tigers were violent and used forceful means to try to create a separate and independent state. This was due to factors such as citizenship rights. Source B suggests that the Tamil Tigers were also treated in the same way. Hence, conflict arose. Source B also mentions that the Tamil Tigers caused a lot of innocent lives to be lost.” •
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This is a classic example of summarising. While we can pick out points that may suggest similarities, these points are not clearly identified as being similar. Students tend to feel the need to write down everything they can infer from the source without first identifying an appropriate basis of comparison. As a result, their answers often become disjointed and unfocused. This is known as content mismatch. Always establish the basis of comparison before delving into the details of the two sources. To avoid confusion, compare one thing at a time – start with similarities before proceeding to differences to ensure that your answer is well-­‐organised. Mistake 3: Not being straight to the point when presenting evidence • Some student’s lift huge chunks of ‘evidence’ from the sources, thinking that this impresses the examiner. • However, you are unlikely to get marks for quoting indiscriminately as this shows that you are unable to pinpoint the specific part of the source that is relevant to the point you made. Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 4 How should I go about answering a comparison question? Similarity and/or difference based on provenance/topic. Step 1 [L1] • Both Sources A and B are written by a member of parliament. • Both Sources A and B discuss health care in Singapore. 1m Similarity OR difference with an established basis of comparison, unsupported. • Both Sources A and B suggest that health care Singapore is affordable. • Source A suggests that health care in Singapore is affordable while Step 2 [L2] Source B suggests that health care in Singapore is unaffordable. 1 similarity/difference (unsupported) – 2m 2 similarities and/or differences (unsupported) – 3m 1 similarity + 1 difference (unsupported) – 3m 2-­‐3m Similarity OR difference with an established basis of comparison, supported. • Source A shows that health care in Singapore is affordable due to the subsidies given by the government. The Source states that “the government gives different rates of subsidies to the different classes of wards in hospitals”. This suggests that healthcare remains affordable for most Singaporeans, especially the lower-­‐income group. • Source B shows that healthcare is affordable as due to the Medishield scheme. It suggests that “a patient can use Medishield to Step 3 [L3] pay for more long-­‐term hospitalisation or treatment of serious illnesses”. This suggests that healthcare is affordable for people who require long-­‐term treatments. 1 similarity (supported) – 3m 2 similarities (supported) – 4m 1 difference (supported) – 3m 2 differences (supported) – 4m 3-­‐4m Similarity AND difference, all supported. Step 4 [L4] 1 similarity + 1 difference (supported) additional pair of similarity + difference – 6m 5-­‐6m Step 5 [L5] 6-­‐7m Similarities OR Differences based on tone/purpose, supported (2 sources) Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 5 3 Reliability – Can I trust this source? Reliability and utility? Aren’t they the same? Many students have difficulties understanding the difference between reliability and utility. • Reliability is simply about whether you believe the source. It does not matter how much or what the source tells you. All that matters is whether you believe it. • On the other hand, utility is about how useful the source is in helping you to understand a certain issue. Whether you believe the source is not is part of deciding how useful the source is. Example 1 – A source can be reliable BUT NOT useful The following is an extract from a keynote address by Mr Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Education, at the Ministry of Education Work Plan Seminar 2014. “There is one other thing we can all be proud of -­‐ that we seek to provide a holistic education, through CCA, CCE, and socio-­‐emotional learning; and we do it for every child, regardless of which school they are in, their background or their starting point. I’ve visited many school systems around the world, and we offer one of the most holistic education in the world, through a whole suite of integrated and comprehensive programmes.” Is the source about the education system in Singapore reliable? • Yes, because it is about our education system by the education minister. Is the source useful in helping us to understand about the changes in the education system? • No, because it does not mention anything about the changes in the education system. Example 2 – A source can be unreliable BUT useful The following is an opinion by a visiting foreign student about Singapore’s education system. “The education system in Singapore is the best in the world. In my two weeks here, I have gone for 5 fieldtrips and was also given the chance to participate in a speaking competition. Although my command of the English language is not strong, I was given a chance to take part in the competition. I even got a chance to work in a company for 5 days. The education system in Singapore gives numerous opportunities to all students for them to have a holistic education. Everybody can do well under the Singapore education system” Is the source about the education system in Singapore reliable? • No, because it is by a foreign student who did not go through the entire education system. Instead, his experiences are merely from a two-­‐week visit. Is the source useful in helping us to understand about the opportunities that the education system provides? Yes, because it tells us that there are “fieldtrips”, “speaking competition”, students can “work in a company”, and that there are “numerous opportunities”. Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 6 How do I identify a question on reliability? The most straightforward of asking a question on reliability is to use the word itself. For example, “how reliable is Source A…” However, this may not always be the case! Here are some ways in which reliability questions can be asked: • Do you believe Source A? • Do you think Source B is fair? • Does Source C prove that…? • Is Source D telling the truth? • Is Source E wrong to say that…? • Is Source F correct? • Does Source G accurately portray…? • Are you surprised by what Source H says…? Cross-­‐reference? How do I go about doing that? Example: Study Source A. To what extent is Source A reliable in telling us about Hannah? Source A An author writing a biography about Hannah Hannah enjoys reading fiction books. In her free time, she enjoys sketching landscape scenery. Her favourite food is nasi lemak. She likes animals and used to keep a dog as a pet. Source B Hannah’s childhood friend I first met Hannah when we were in Kindergarten. Our mothers used to buy nasi lemak for us after school. We enjoyed tucking into it together. She says that it is her favourite food. Source C Hannah’s boyfriend Hannah dislikes anything with fur and moves. Dogs, cats, rabbits; she will never get close to one. Her family used to have a dog when she was a child but they gave it away because it made her so upset. Steps 1. Select the information you want to confirm or challenge from the main source. To confirm Source A states that Hannah likes nasi lemak We can confirm that Hannah likes eating nasi lemak by cross-­‐
referencing to Source B. 3. Match the information in Source B also suggests that Step 2 Hannah likes eating nasi lemak. 4. Quote the supporting details We can infer this from the from the source, which either quote “She says that it is her proves or challenges the favourite food”. information in Step 2 Therefore, Source A is reliable 5. Evaluate in telling us about Hannah. 2. Identify the source that you intend to cross-­‐refer to. Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills To challenge Source A states that Hannah likes dogs. We can challenge what Source A says by cross-­‐referencing to Source C. Source C states that Hannah DOES NOT LIKE animals. We can infer this from the quote “Hannah dislikes anything with fur and moves”. Therefore, Source A is unreliable in telling us about Hannah 7 So how do I go about answering a question on reliability? Step 1 [L1] Accept or reject • The source is [reliable/unreliable]. Step 2 [L2] Reliability based on provenance • The source is written by/published by [author]. As he/she is [position of person in society], one would expect him/her to [be 2m well-­‐informed/have good understanding/be experienced in or the opposite]. Hence, what he/she says is [reliable/unreliable] Step 3 [L3] Reliability based on content/typicality (unexplained propaganda) • The source says [identify specific issue]. This is seen when the 3m author says [“quote evidence”]. This suggests that [elaboration]. Hence, [link back to issue]. Step 4 [L4] L3 + Cross refer to prove reliability using: • Other sources to confirm • Contextual knowledge to confirm When I cross-­‐refer to Source X, it also suggests that [same issue as identified earlier]. It says [“quote evidence”]. This suggests that [elaboration]. Hence, [link back to issue]. Since both sources AGREE with each other, Source A is thus reliable. 4-­‐5m L3 + Cross refer to challenge reliability using: • Other sources to challenge • Contextual knowledge to challenge However, when I cross-­‐refer to Source Y, it suggests that [different viewpoint to issue identified earlier]. It says [“quote evidence”]. This suggests that [elaboration]. Hence, [link back to issue]. Since both sources CONTRADICT each other, Source A is less reliable. Step 5 [L5] Both elements of L4 Step 6 [L6] Weight both points of view; reliability based on purpose and tone (enhanced reliability OR propaganda) • [Reliability based on purpose]. Source A is published by [author] who wants to [action – use a verb: persuade/convince/encourage/highlight] the [audience] that [issue 7-­‐8m identified earlier in point 3]. He hopes that the audience will [action taken by audience] so that [achievement – desired outcome]. − Hence, the source is objective and is thus reliable. OR − Hence, the soruce has a propaganda purpose and is thus less reliable. *** Remember to use the PEEL structure in your answer! Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 1m 6m 8 Utility If you are asked a question about utility, the examiners want to know about the use you can make of the source. Hence, you should talk about: • what facts it tells you; • what inferences you can make from the source; and • how you can cross-­‐reference it to other sources or your own knowledge. If the question asks “how useful”, or “is it useful?”, you should also talk about the limitations of the source. So, you should mention: • what it does not tell you about the topic addressed in the question; • whether it is typical (i.e. if you are asked about the low birth rate in Singapore in general, does one source about one aspect at one particular time actually tell you abou the low birth rate in Singapore in general? • and • you should also consider whether you believe the source. Reliability is important if it is a question on utility. That is, if you are asked whether a source provides useful evidence or not, whether you believe it must surely affect how useful it is. How do I identify a question on utility? Here are some ways in which utility questions can be asked: • How useful is Source A in helping you to understand…? • How far does Source B help you…? • Is the source any use for understanding the subject? • Can this source be used for…? Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 9 So how do I go about answering a question on utility? Step 1 [L1] Simple assertion based on provenance • Source A is useful because it is a comment by a minister. Step 2 [L2] Utility based on typicality • The source is written by/published by [author]. As he/she is [position of person in society], one would expect him/her to [be 2m well-­‐informed/have good understanding/be experienced in or the opposite]. Hence, what he/she says will be [useful/not useful] in helping me understand [issue]. Step 3 [L3] Useful/not useful based on content/typicality, supported • The source is useful in helping m to understand [identify specific issue]. This is seen when the author says [“quote evidence”]. This 3-­‐4m suggests that [elaboration]. Hence, [link back to issue]. 4m for useful + not useful, both supported Step 4 [L4] Step 5 [L5] Step 6 [L6] 1m L3 + Cross refer to prove utility using: • Other sources to confirm • Contextual knowledge to confirm • When I cross-­‐refer to Source X, it also suggests that [same issue as identified earlier]. It says [“quote evidence”]. This suggests that [elaboration]. Hence, [link back to issue]. Since both sources AGREE with each other, Source A is thus useful. L3 + Cross refer to challenge utility using: 5-­‐6m • Other sources to challenge • Contextual knowledge to challenge • [Utility based on cross-­‐reference]. However, Source A is less useful as it does not tell me about [issue]. On the other hand, when I cross-­‐
refer to Source Y, it suggests that [different viewpoint to issue identified earlier]. It says [“quote evidence”]. This suggests that [elaboration]. Hence, [link back to issue]. Since both sources CONTRADICT each other, Source A is less useful. 6 m for useful + not useful, both cross-­‐referred L4 + Explicit conclusion about utility using reliability based on tone/purpose. • Source A is published by [author] who wants to [action – use a verb: persuade/convince/encourage/highlight] the [audience] that [issue identified earlier in point 3]. He hopes that the audience will [action 7m taken by audience] so that [achievement – desired outcome]. • Hence, the source is objective and is thus reliable. OR • Hence, the soruce has a propaganda purpose and does not reveal everything about [issue]. Hence, it is thus less reliable. L5 + still useful… Although unreliable, the source is still useful because it shows us the … 8m Social Studies | Source Based Case Study Skills 10 
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