Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Robert Williams


Either generic or subject-specific measures (a total of three measures) of critical thinking were given to students in nine sections of an undergraduate educational psychology course. Generic measures were the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) developed by Facione and Facione (1994) and the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal Forms (WGCTA) by Watson and Glaser (1994). The subject-specific measure was the Psychological Critical Thinking instrument developed by Lawson (1999). The critical thinking measures were used to address questions relating to the predictive potential of critical thinking and to assess changes in critical thinking during the course. Specific questions included the following: (1) Will generic versus subject specific critical thinking measures differentially predict performance on multiple-choice tests that presumably involve critical thinking and essay quizzes that do not? (2) Will the pattern of change in critical thinking from the beginning to the end of the course differ for generic versus content-specific measures? (3) Will the patterns of change in critical thinking differ for students who perform well and those who perform poorly on the exams? Results indicated that all of the critical thinking tests moderately and significantly predicted exam scores (p < .01) but minimally predicted quiz scores. Pre- to post-changes in critical thinking were significant for each critical thinking measure. Also, for each critical thinking measure, the high exam-performance group did better on both the pre and post-course measure than did the low exam-performance group. Finally, psychological critical thinking increased significantly in pre- to post course scores both for the high-performance group and for the total sample who took that measure. Conclusions of the study produced some confirmation that subject-specific critical thinking, particularly psychological critical thinking, can increase during a college course. However, further exploration into effective ways to promote critical thinking within the classroom is needed.

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