Here is another great tip from Writing Center consultant Sandy Branham.
A tool that has been helpful for students performing critical analysis is the highlighting method. This is particularly helpful in papers for composition classes. Highlighting can really be used for anything, but I use it in 3 different ways.
1. I ask students to highlight each quote or paraphrase in their paper. Then, I ask them to use a different color highlighter to indicate areas in which the student analyzes source material. If the student uses yellow to highlight quotes and paraphrases and blue to highlight analysis, every instance of yellow highlighting should be followed by blue highlighting.
2. I use highlighting to deal with issues of tense – I ask students to use 3 different colored highlighters, and to highlight each verb in the paper. Past, present, and future tenses are each highlighted in a different color, enabling the student to easily identify areas in which unnecessary tense shifts occur.
3. I also ask students to use highlighting to identify passive voice by focusing on “to be” verbs. By highlighting each instance of a “to be” verb in the text, students are able to identify areas of passive voice and can then revise these sentences in active voice.
Grab a set of highlighters at home and try this yourself. See if you start to notice your errors and learn how to fix them on your own.