Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

John R. Murray

Second Advisor

Dorothy H. Galo

Third Advisor

Reina G. Riley


First graders become good problem solvers when given the opportunity to practice problem solving skills. It is necessary for such practice to take place in a risk-free environment that treats errors as valuable learning experiences rather than something to always avoid. This thesis integrates academic subject matter, school life interactions, and out of school experiences into the first graders' development of critical thinking skills and strategies necessary for them to become good problem solvers. The thesis explains in several different academic subject areas the implementation of critical and creative thinking pedagogy essential for the development of a sound foundation for first graders to work through many of their own problems. Portfolio assessment is used as the primary tool to evaluate the growth in both critical and creative thinking and problem solving. This has given the author good evidence that first graders can become good problem solvers when they are given guided practice.