Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Nancy Robb Singer, PhD.


Carl Hoagland

Keith Miller

William Klein


Critical thinking as a product of student work involves analysis, interpretation, and problem solving to create new thought. There are gradations of critical thinking that score higher than others, though we consider all of them to be important towards development. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship among reading, writing, discourse, and reflection, and its impact on critical thinking. The researcher analyzed processes where students participated in activities that allowed for the development and demonstration of critical thinking skills. This mixed methods study was conducted in a Mid-western school district with eighth grade students for the duration of one school year. It examined how students engaged in critical thinking through online written discourse. Students shared their ideas about a topic in synchronous formats. Data sources included typed online student conversations, surveys, rubric scores, and interviews with students. Based upon the data collected from the study, this research recommends providing students with opportunities to research, analyze, interpret, and share their understandings of what they study. Furthermore, student participation --as a part of the design process within learning opportunities-- is essential for developing critical thought.

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