Final Defense – Karen Sobel

Transfer of Learning of Higher-Order Thinking Skills

July 23 @ 10 AM

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At colleges and universities across the United States, first-year undergraduate students take courses that involve the learning and practice of higher-order thinking skills. Higher-order thinking skills support students’ ability to draw abstract principles from concrete learning experiences over time. Higher-order thinking skills involve such skills as the use of (a) information literacy and (b) critical thinking, both of which feature in this study. This mixed methods study examined motivational factors that support the transfer of these skills: students’ ability to apply the skills on their own at a later time. One semester after they had learned and intentionally practiced these skills, some students’ higher-order thinking skills had atrophied; others had remained at approximately their initial levels; others had been strengthened through use or other factors. The study focused on a survey of X students who were enrolled in the University of Colorado Denver’s First-Year Experience program in Fall 2018, during their first semester as undergraduates. Students were asked to submit a paper written during their second semester as undergraduates, then to complete a survey regarding their motivations for continuing to apply critical thinking and information literacy skills. The study focused on identifying the most prevalent motivating factors among all students. However, the study also specifically examined correlations between rubric performance and motivating factors among students with high, medium, and low average motivating scores in critical thinking and in information literacy.