Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Second Advisor

John R. Murray

Third Advisor

Susan Gore


This paper examines the effects of distress upon critical thinking and offers a variety of stress management techniques to enhance critical thinking skills. A major theme throughout this paper is that one cannot think clearly when one is distressed. The harmful effects of distress upon critical thinking are discussed in the content of the works of several authors in the field of stress management and cognitive psychology. Several different types of stress reduction techniques are presented and discussed. The critical thinking skills of metacognition, frame of reference and methodological believing are reviewed with a focus on how stress management can enhance these skills. Teaching strategies incorporating these critical thinking skills, with specific examples, are offered for high school teachers. A theoretical discussion addresses the topics of stress and distress, the need for stress management, stress strategies. Following this discussion, stress management techniques and critical thinking skills are integrated. This paper culminates with the presentation of four workshops designed to enhance critical thinking through the use of stress management. Each workshop is designed for high school teachers and consists of theory, practical applications and several hands-on activities and exercises. Although these workshops are aimed for teachers helping students to think more critically, the teacher may find that these techniques impact on their own thinking. In conclusion, this paper demonstrates that tress management plays an integral role in promoting critical thinking and offers the reader several strategies to accomplish this goal. The theoretical discussions of both stress management and critical thinking set the stage for practical applications.