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ERIC Number: ED526739
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 224
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1241-5659-0
In Search of Critical Thinking in Undergraduate Education: A Case Study of a Midwestern University's Center for Teaching Excellence
Thaxton, Lourene Pike
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, University of Arkansas at Little Rock
Research indicated that students often graduate from colleges and universities without encountering critical thinking skills in undergraduate coursework. The first national report raising concerns over the declining quality of education stemmed from the National Commission on Excellence in Education (1983), and findings based on disappointing test scores were essentially repeated with the Spellings Report (2006) twenty years later. Although numerous scholars, experts, and politicians voiced concerns regarding what were perceived to be deficient methods of instruction in higher education, missing were the voices of professors who devised the curriculum and delivered student instruction. The intention of this study was to interview a group of interdisciplinary professors in order to determine their methods and attitudes regarding the way they implemented curricula. A qualitative case study was designed in order to focus on the role of a Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) at a doctoral research extensive university where professors participated in a seminar to restructure a course of their selection. Electronic portfolios depicted each transitional stage and displayed data such as syllabi, course goals, and faculty reflections. This study resulted in the development of the "Five Commonalities for Critical Thinking", a standard to which data sources were held in establishing evidence of critical thinking for the restructured courses as created by each professor. Sixteen professors were interviewed in all; electronic data sources were surveyed for criteria of critical thinking, and corresponding interviews were coded for themes. Findings indicated that study participants challenged students to highest levels of thinking, that opportunities for learning were embedded within the disciplines, and that professors developed and manifested critical thinking references used specific to college divisions. Although further research is recommended, the implications exist that general critical thinking tests fail to adequately assess levels of critical thinking ensuing within the disciplines. Discipline-specific knowledge must first be identified so that tests may subsequently be developed to determine more accurate parameters of critical thinking. Much of existing literature bears a strong theoretical component with little or no substantiating data. Another possibility is that the effective Center for Teaching Excellence empowered professors to utilize teaching strategies that enhanced their courses beyond the traditional expectations of the undergraduate experience thereby creating a unique intellectual learning environment for students. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A