Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson

Third Advisor

Paula A. Sline


Thinking skills development is an important educational goal if students are expected to cope with the challenges of today's rapidly changing world. Teachers attempt to build the foundation for thinking by applying innovative programs that introduce and reinforce critical and creative thinking skills. Yet, educational practitioners and experts in the critical thinking field recognize that even those students who demonstrate mature thinking in school frequently fail to transfer thinking skills outside the classroom. To maximize the possibility for transfer two approaches to thinking skills development were chosen for this thesis. First, methods employed in the classroom included direct instruction in thinking, practice in thinking using multiple experiences with varied contexts in socially interactive environments, and metacognitive instruction. Secondly, outside the classroom, parents and teachers joined in a mutually supportive partnership to extend thinking skills into the home. Parents modeled good thinking and employed high level questioning strategies in a series of project activities designed to foster communication. The thinking skills project involved twenty-five fourth grade students and their families participating for one full year to develop and transfer critical and creative thinking skills outside the classroom. Project activities employed strategies that elicited recall, application, analysis, and evaluation. Conclusions were drawn from direct observation and evaluative instruments completed by parents and students both during the process and at the conclusion of the project. A summary of evaluative data indicated that the intervention was effective with the majority of students. Parents' awareness of critical and creative thinking also increased. The curriculum and evaluation instruments are included in the appendix to serve as a resource for teachers and other practitioners. Primarily designed for elementary classroom teachers, both the content and the style of the curriculum project could easily be adapted by other practitioners working with parents and children.