Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Maralee Mayberry

Number of Pages



In an increasingly complex society, the need for people to exercise critical thinking effectively is clearly evident. The institution of education recognizes that its responsibility to teach students to think critically is vital in order for them to negotiate decisions humanely and intelligently in an ever-changing world; Hundreds of reports from various committees and researchers along with such insidious incidents as the rise in murderous assaults on children inside school buildings, such as the massacre in Littleton, Colorado, attest to the fact that schools fail to teach students to evaluate social life critically. While educators advocate critical thinking, teacher education faculty must insure that prospective elementary teachers possess and exercise critical thinking abilities to pass on later to their students; This was an exploratory investigation. It sought to examine the critical thinking abilities of both elementary education and secondary education majors in a local university in a city in the Southwest. A review of the literature revealed little research that compared critical thinking abilities among prospective elementary education teachers and secondary education majors as well as among prospective teachers and typical college students having different academic backgrounds. This study identified the difference between the critical thinking skills of prospective elementary education teachers and prospective secondary education teachers (research hypothesis 2) and identified the difference in critical thinking appraisal scores between prospective elementary and secondary education teachers' scores and the scores of typical college students as measured by the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (research hypothesis 1). The following research hypotheses were investigated: (1) Prospective teachers have lower critical thinking appraisal scores than typical college students as measured by the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. (2) Prospective elementary education teachers differ from prospective secondary education teachers with respect to critical thinking skills. Results of testing supported both hypotheses.


Abilities; Comparison; Critical; Critical Thinking; Education; Education Majors; Majors

Controlled Subject

Sociology; Teachers--Training of

File Format


File Size

3102.72 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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