Leadership Studies Ed.D. Dissertations


Becoming Critical Thinkers: The Impact of Treatments on Student Reflective Practice in the College Classroom

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Rachel Vannatta Reinhart, Ph.D. (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Lee Nickoson, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Paul Johnson, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Dennis Mathern, Ph.D. (Committee Member)


The purpose of the study was to determine the effect of instructional treatments on reflective practice and critical thinking in the college classroom at Bowling Green State University in the College of Business. The study employed a quasi-experimental pretest posttest control group design to examine student reflective practice among three treatment groups (T1-students receiving feedback only; T2-students viewing PowerPoint and receiving handout only, T3-students receiving feedback, viewing PowerPoint, and receiving handout) and one control group, which did not receive any instruction or feedback on reflective practice. The pretest and posttest were used to evaluate reflective practice and critical thinking skills among freshmen students (n=253). The study sought to identify the level of reflective practice for incoming freshmen, examine which treatment was most effective in increasing overall reflective practice growth, and which specific thinking skills were most effected by which treatments. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was conducted to examine group differences in reflective practice growth. growth.

The results indicate that the majority of participants were categorized in beginner status for 5 of the 7 categories presented. Deep thinking, analysis, and synthesis were noted as the categories of thinking skills with the greatest proportion in beginner status and ultimately require the most attention and improvement. The results indicate that freshmen students enter college with low level thinking skills.

Research question 2 examined group differences in Growth scores of Reflective Practice. Overall reflective scores were calculated as the sum of all thinking skill category scores. ANOVA results revealed significant treatment group differences in overall Reflective Practice growth, with Treatment Group 3 (PowerPoint, handout, and feedback) outperforming all other groups.

ANOVA was also used to examine the effect of instructional differences on each thinking skill category growth score. Treatment Group 3 (PowerPoint, handout and feedback) reported the most growth in all thinking skill categories, while the Control, which had no instruction or feedback, experienced the least growth in all categories. ANOVA results indicate significant group differences for all thinking skill categories; however, effect sizes reveal that the instruction treatments had the greatest impact on deep thinking and synthesis. Although results indicated that feedback alone did not have the greatest impact on reflective practice, it certainly was a necessary component of Treatment 3, the combined instructional strategy. In addition, the feedback-only group (T2) saw more growth in Overall Reflective Practice than T1, the handout/PowerPoint group, indicating feedback is critical to learning.

Based upon the results, the research concluded that: 1) the majority of college freshman have low levels of reflective practice; 2) A variety of instructional methods are needed to improve student thinking skill growth; 3) Feedback is a critical component in developing reflective practice.