Critical Thinking and the Community College

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo


During the past fifteen years, colleges have been challenged to reform their curricula to ensure that they will graduate individuals who can think critically. This study explores the response that post-secondary institutions have made to this challenge and recommends a critical thinking paradigm "more deeply rooted in the social and moral requirements of thinking in a complex world." (Weinstein 1995,1). This study presents an overview of the conceptual, structural and political responses of the academic community to this challenge. It focuses principally on the conceptual responses because these provide the theoretical underpinnings for both the structural and political responses of the critical thinking movement: the pedagogical organization and practices; the competing political agendas; and, the popular understanding of the movement. Since it is theoretically possible to train people for critical thinking in very narrow domains and practical tasks, just as it is for very broad domains and theoretical tasks, we therefore have to ask ourselves what kind of critical thinking are we interested in developing? For whom and for what? (McPeck 1994, 38). This study examines four curricular approached to the teaching of critical thinking, two examples of infusion and two examples of the independent critical thinking course. It considers the recent history of critical thinking, describes the unique critical thinking considerations inherent in the community college, traces the instructor's experience with an independent critical thinking course, and outlines a prescription for further development of critical thinking at the community college.


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