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Critical Thinking Tutorial: Interpreting Information Methodically

This tutorial will empower you with valuable critical thinking skills that are essential for your university education.

The SEE-I Method

It makes sense that thinking critically about a topic relies on understanding it first. When reading, you can use several methods or strategies to interpret the information. A common critical thinking technique is called the SEE-I method which can be used to make sense of abstract terms and concepts. It can help you interpret complex and conflicting ideas so you can explain them more clearly and begin to think about them more critically.

Watch this short video to learn more:

A Brief Overview of the SEE-I Method

Source: SEEI instructional Strategy by Instructional Design Lady on YouTube

As the video mentions, the SEE-I method allows you to organize your thoughts and present information in a clear and logical manner. It is often used in writing and speaking to structure arguments, and it can be applied to a variety of different types of information, such as research findings, policy proposals, and personal opinions.

The acronym SEE-I stands for STATE, ELABORATE, EXEMPLIFY, ILLUSTRATE. Use the SEE-I method to decipher an author's claim or construct claims of your own by mastering each of the four steps:

SEE-I in Action

Deciphering a Claim

When applying the SEE-I method, the task is not to decide whether you agree or disagree with a statement; it is only to decipher what the statement or question means.

Consider this Shakespeare example from Before deciding whether or not to agree with Mr. English about Shakespeare being the greatest writer of all time, set your bias aside and consider first what the opening question might mean. In the example provided,

The TOPIC is 'Shakespeare'

The QUESTION is, 'How great is Shakespeare?'

This is how Mr. English demonstrates his understanding of the topic using the SEE-I method:

He STATES: Shakespeare is one of the best authors of all time.

He ELABORATES: In other words, Shakespeare's works are extremely important to the entire human race.


  • For example, Romeo and Juliet has become an iconic example of the perfect love story. The mixture of joy and tragedy always makes a strong impression on readers.
  • Additionally, Hamlet is known around the world for its amazing depth and dramatic display of human emotion. The scene with the phrase “to be, or not to be” is likely the most famous line in all of English literature.
  • Furthermore, Macbeth is still being remade into modern big-budget Hollywood movies. This shows the impact the story and these characters have on people centuries after they were first created.

He ILLUSTRATES: Shakespeare is like a shooting star in the sky as his brilliance shines for all to see. According to Author William Hazlitt, “If we wish to know the force of human genius, we should read Shakespeare.”

Again, whether you agree with Mr. English or not, you can see how he uses the SEE-I method to interpret the question, using illustrations and examples to ensure he understands the topic well enough to explain it.

Check Your Understanding

Before moving on, ensure you understand what the SEE-I method is asking you to do and use it to interpret information so you can explain it or write about it in a clear and concise manner.