Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Second Advisor

Delores Gallo

Third Advisor

Hilary B. Hopkins


The need for imparting critical and creative thinking skills to students has never been greater. No longer can students be expected to absorb passively each aspect of their education without the means of understanding more fully the nature and content of the learning experience. The amount of information currently available for teaching purposes alone is truly staggering. Just as the instructor must choose the most appropriate material for a curriculum, so too must the student decide what will be the moist useful to study from this endeavor. Teachers need to become developers of critical and creative thinking skills, and advocates of interdependence, teamwork, and interdisciplinary thinking. They should also see themselves as managers of learning experiences to help students accomplish these goals. Such managing of students' learning should result in the individual student deriving some proficiency at creative problem solving. The selection of the tropical rainforest as the focus for this critical and creative thinking curriculum offered sixth grade students a timely and relevant topic which they were able to investigate with enthusiasm. With each succeeding lesson, students gained greater confidence in taking responsibility for their own learning. This confidence was reflected in class discussions and group projects. Fundamental to this curriculum was the use of well established strategies for teaching creative problem solving. These included the use of knowledge webs, visualizations, simulations, guided imagery, role playing and analogies. Key to the success of this program was the decision to have students work primarily in groups rather than individually. This strategy promoted greater productivity, bolstered student confidence, and improved class discussions. This unit serves as an example of how critical and creative thinking programs, when offered to young students, can serve as a valuable foundation for their overall academic success.