The Craft of Infusing Critical Thinking Skills: A Mixed-Method Research on Implementation and Student Outcome

Laura C. Edwards


Despite the widespread recognition that educators, employers, and governing agencies view critical thinking (CT) as one of the most desired outcomes of higher education, research findings indicate that a majority of professors are not teaching it effectively. Employing a mixed methods explanatory sequential design, this study identified seven teaching strategies employed by faculty members to infuse preselected thinking skills into class content and their positive effect on students’ higher order thinking abilities. The target population for the study was faculty members who participated in a CT development program to employ the infusion method to foster the thinking skills. Quantitatively, the study utilized extant data from the interviewed faculty members’ respective students’ CT application-focused recallbased pretest and posttests scores. Dependent t-tests were conducted, and the data were analyzed to examine whether students’ (n = 133) scores were statistically and practically significant from the beginning to the end of the semester. Qualitative data were collected through semi-structured interviews with seven faculty members. Seven strategies for the infusion of the thinking skills emanated from a qualitative, systematic, thematic analysis of the interview transcripts: explicit teaching, intentional implementation, systematic practice, class discussions, teaching for transfer, modeling the skills, and fostering reflection. Data obtained through analyzing the extant pretest and posttest scores revealed noteworthy advancement in the students’ CT skills with significant effect sizes.

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