Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Nina Greenwald

Third Advisor

Kathleen Scanlon


Bernice McCarthy has devised an instructional and organizational model that has been used in the United States since 1979. The model addresses an experiential cycle of learning that takes one from personal meaning to creativity. The use of this model helps people to understand and respect others, to communicate, and to think at higher levels.

This thesis offers the McCarthy model as a foundation for structuring learning experiences. It begins with a literature review which discusses the theoretical origins of McCarthy's model. In evaluating this model for its inherent critical and creative thinking skills, however, the author finds several areas that could be improved. These areas are designing activities which intentionally teach specific thinking skills along with subject content and providing more opportunities for student metacognition along with identification of the thinking skills and processes. The author further recommends that the use of free/open ended exploration in the start of any activity or exercise, would improve self directed learning along with critical and creative thinking skills and organizational skills. This may lead to greater student interest and learning.

Attention to these ideas is found in the author's restructuring of a McCarthy sample lesson. The author also fashions general guidelines for the further integration of thinking skill practices concerning individual styles of learning. Further application is provided for the reader in the author's development of one critical and creative thinking skills lesson that is imbedded in learning about chicken feathers. Lesson activities incorporate cooperative learning strategies that foster group decision making skills.

The fundamental requirements of our democratic society provide an effective rationale for focusing on thinking. Democracy, rests on informed, thoughtful, creative citizens. Teaching for thinking and creativity is essential and must include all learning styles. Teaching to this end can result with skilled thinkers, who are able to cope better with personal and societal problems, and furthermore, live as innovative lifelong learners who remain open to new experiences and ideas throughout life.