Critical Thinking in Social Studies: A Model of Infused Lessons for the Intermediate Grades

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Patricia S. Davidson


A main goal of any Social Studies curriculum is to prepare students for effective and responsible citizenship. What is taught and how it is taught must go beyond the recall of facts, if educators are to influence students political decisions and geographic choices in life. Although the need to develop effective thinkers has long been recognized as a fundamental mandate of education, national assessments continue to indicate that many students lack thinking and problem-solving abilities. Proficiency in thinking involves being able to execute various mental operations, knowing when to employ these operations, and having a willingness to use them when appropriate to do so. Students must be able to determine the credibility of a vast amount of information conveyed to them through a variety of sources and situations. This thesis demonstrates how the direct instruction of specific critical thinking skills may be infused into the Social Studies curriculum. Five lessons about the Lowell Massachusetts textile mills during the l800s have been developed for fifth grade students. Each lesson specifies the lesson topic, thinking skill focus, objectives, materials, time required, motivation, type of strategy used, and an activity sequence delineating cognition, metacognition, and transfer of the skill. The lessons are designed to teach specific thinking skills: determination of the accuracy of information, the reliability of sources, casual explanation, prediction, and problem-solving. These skills are viewed as having importance for improving thinking across curricula and within the framework of daily life.


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