Date of Award

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Patty LeBlanc

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Gollery

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristin Heathcock


The area of critical thinking skills has been one of concern for many professionals working in the field of higher education (Nicholas & Raider-Roth, 2016; Shim & Walczak, 2012). The purpose of this study was to provide these professionals with sound pedagogical tools that can be used to assist college students in developing their critical thinking skills and dispositions. Using a sample of 34 English Composition II students from a community college in the Southeast, the researcher employed a pre-test/post-test comparison group design to compare the effects of small-group discussion of higher-order questions to the effects of whole-group discussion on students’ critical thinking dispositions. The students’ critical thinking dispositions were measured through the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) (Facione, P., & Facione, N., 2007). Independent t-tests revealed no significant differences between the post-test composite and subscale CCTDI scores of students who addressed higher-order questions through small-group discussion and students who addressed the same questions via whole-group discussion. Despite the lack of significant findings, the study has implications for instructors wishing to use discussion as part of their critical thinking pedagogy.