Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo

Second Advisor

Steve Schwartz


The proliferation of technology and the information it makes available to all has forced education to realign itself to meet the changing needs of today's students. A shift away from amassing information, toward the development of critical thinking skills, presents teachers with new questions. What skills are appropriate to teach at a given age or level, and how can those skills be developed? This project takes one of those skills, analogies, and investigates the degree of success a teacher might expect in teaching them to fourth grade students. The project was designed as a data generating study. Fifty-seven fourth grade students from a suburban Boston community participated in the study. There were 28 students in the study group and 29 students in the control group. As there are no commercially available tests that would measure growth in the necessary manner, an instrument was devised for the study. The test contained four subtests at increasing levels of proficiency: recognition, completion, analysis, and generation of analogies. Within each subtest five types of relationships were included: descriptive, comparative, categorical, serial, and causal. All participants were given a pretest and a posttest on designated dates. The study group received 16 instructional sessions of 15-20 minutes each between the pre- and posttests. The results were then compared. The overall analysis showed significant gains for the study group compared to the control group. The greatest gains were made in the fourth subtest, generating analogies. This is particularly encouraging since it requires the greatest facility with the integrated reasoning process of analogical thinking. The findings of the study support the hypothesis that it is feasible to teach analogical skills to fourth grade students, and they suggest that critical thinking can be successfully included in the curriculum of elementary schools.