Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Higher Education Administration

Major Professor

Norma T. Mertz

Committee Members

Richard L. Allington, E. Grady Bogue, Stergios G. Botzakis


Many scholars have weighed in on what it means to think critically. Although there has not been agreement on a clear definition for the term “critical thinking,” scholars have agreed on some common skills involved in critical thinking. These skills—inductive reasoning, deductive reasoning, analysis, evaluation, and inference are the same ones involved in the ability to read and read well. While many studies have involved critical thinking in college students, none has examined critical thinking and its relationship to reading. Thus, the purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between voluntary reading, academic achievement (as measured by GPA), and critical thinking skills among undergraduate students.

A quantitative research design involved 119 students at a private, denominationally-affiliated liberal arts college in the South. Students in seven sections of undergraduate English completed the Survey of Recreational Reading Habits, Revised as well as the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST).

Critical thinking was operationally defined by the total score on the CCTST, and it was studied more closely by examining scores on its five sub-scales. Voluntary reading involved four variables: 1) the number of hours spent per week on voluntary reading while college classes are in session, 2) the number of hours spent per week on voluntary reading during vacation breaks from college, 3) the frequency of reading books, and 4) the frequency of reading non-book items.

Statistical analyses yielded the following results: 1) there was a significant, positive relationship between critical thinking and voluntary reading; 2) gender and class standing did not make a significant difference in critical thinking score; 3) there was a significant, positive relationship between college GPA and each score on the CCTST (total score and all five sub-scores); and 4) there was a significant, positive relationship between voluntary reading and college GPA.

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