Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia A. Cordeiro

Second Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Third Advisor

John R. Murray


The importance of good instruction in reading education has long been recognized. What constitutes good instruction and what materials should be used have been the focus of much debate, however, over the years. Two relatively new movements in education have recently added fuel to that debate, namely the movements in critical thinking and whole language. The fundamental purpose of the thinking skills movement is the development of higher level thinking in students. In the area of reading this means that students should be challenged by questions and problems in literature which cause them to go beyond a literal understanding. They should be taught to interpret and evaluate all types of literature. To facilitate critical thinking, advocates for the movement suggest that educators provide opportunities for students to problem solve in pairs or small groups. They encourage a non-judgmental classroom atmosphere which allows students freedom of thought. Some educators utilize a list of relevant thinking skills and teach thinking strategies and methods directly using these skills as a backdrop. The whole language movement focuses on the reading of whole, non-abridged literature and an integration of all the language arts: reading, writing, spelling, speaking and listening. It emphasizes reading for meaning and provides strategies which can enhance under-standing. It also focuses on getting the individual student to see the importance and pleasure of reading. This thesis provides a description of the critical thinking and whole language movements, with emphasis on how each has contributed to reading instruction. The writer discusses the overlap between the two movements, noting many similarities in purpose and methodology. The writer discusses the overlap between the two movements. noting many similarities in purpose and methodology. The conclusion is that the movements are fundamentally compatible, and therefore educators should use concepts and practices from both movements to form their own foundation for reading instruction. A sample lesson is provided in the appendix.