Hallett-TM - University of Maine System

Seeking Critical Thinking in an
Undergraduate Seminar: Is the Motivation
to Think Deeply and Willingness to
Communicate Associated with Critical
Jessica Hallett
How it All Began…
 This paper was inspired by questions that arose while I was
enrolled in a senior seminar at the University of Southern Maine
during the fall of 2011.
 The Professor had posed the question:
What makes an authentic discussion?
We sought to define this notion and to
enact it.
 I found that even months after our class had ended that I was
extremely passionate about the subject, prompting this
 After doing some research I found that a lot of work has been
done on students motivation to participate in discussions, but
rarely has critical thinking been measured.
 Self Determination Theory founded by Ryan and Deci
(2000) discuss the difference and effect of intrinsic and
extrinsic motivation.
 Pintrich and DeGroot (1990) looked at self-regulated
cognition and behavior within a classroom setting.
 H1: Willingness to Communicate is associated with how we
talk in discussion including, frequency of talking, offering
opinions, responding to others, presenting a story of personal
experience, and making statements related to the text.
 H2: Willingness to Communicate is associated with critical
 H3: The Need for Cognition is associated with critical thinking.
 An intact undergraduate seminar course of 10 students served
as subjects in this study, a convenience sample.
 There were five women and five men.
 The class ran for fall semester, 2012.
 Within the first week of the semester students were asked to fill
out two surveys, The Need for Cognition Scale and the
Willingness to Communicate Scale. These scales provided
mean scores.
 At four class meetings a half hour of the class discussion was
recorded, transcribed and coded for four levels of critical
 sessions chosen periodically throughout the semester of this
senior seminar were coded for 8 different discussion variables.
 Critical thinking was measured by using a specific set of
definitions that were used to analyze students dialogue.
 Five of these variables were focused on discussion
behavior including, Frequency of talk, offers opinions,
responds to others, responds to others, presents a
personal story or experience and makes statement
related to text.
 Four critical thinking variables were also observed and
recorded including, triggering, exploration, integration,
and resolution.
Hypothesis 1:
 For the first hypothesis, Willingness to Communicate is
associated with talk in discussion, the Spearman’s rho
revealed a statistically significant relationship between
the Total Willingness to Communicate and offering
opinions (rs[10]= .604, p<.032).
 Spearman’s rho also revealed a significant relationship
between the Total Willingness to Communicate and
telling a story or personal experience (rs[10]= .594,
Hypothesis 2:
 For the second hypothesis, Willingness to Communicate
is associated with critical thinking, Spearman’s rho
revealed no significant relationships between the Total
Willingness to Communicate and any of the critical
thinking variables including, triggering (rs[10]= -.136,
p<.354) and exploration (rs[10]=.355, p<.157).
Hypothesis 3:
 For the third hypothesis, the Need for Cognition is associated
with critical thinking, Spearman’s rho revealed no significant
relationships between the Need for Cognition and any of the
critical thinking variables including, triggering (rs[10]=.239, p<
.253) and exploration (rs[10]=.382, p<.138).
 This research started out with a desire to understand what
causes some people to dig deep and really engage in authentic
discussions while others just observe quietly.
 Our results showed us that it appears that having a high need
to dig deeply into ideas is not enough to produce an increased
score on degree of critical thinking.
 It appears that being willing to communicate and in fact
speaking frequently and in various ways does not necessarily
go along with an increased degree of critical thinking.
 Though the results were to a degree disappointing, an array of
limitations must be considered.
 The study was done with only ten participants that were
observed over one semester, or approximately 3months time.
Having the means to do this study for a longer period of time
with a much larger sample may have altered the results.
 While observing and collecting data it was not noted whether a
subject was the facilitator or just a participant.
 critical thinking within small discussion groups as well as laid
some good base work for future studies on the need for critical
Where This Research Has Taken
 DePauw University’s 39th Undergraduate Honors conference in
Greencastle, Indiana
 George Lakoff was our keynote speaker.
 Worked with Professors from Middlebury, University of
Maryland, and Penn State University.
 A huge thanks goes to Professor Shedletsky, my mentor who
help me one hundred percent of the way.
 I would also like to thank Professor John Broida from the
Psychology department for all of his help with the statistics of
our study.
 I would like to thank the Communication and Media Studies
department funding my trip to DePauw University’s Honors
Conference in Indiana and a special thanks to Stephanie
Towns for all of her help and support in planning my trip.
 Lastly I would like to thank the Dean and Provost’s office for
your willingness to help fund this trip if needed.
 Cacioppo, J. T., & Petty, R. E. ( 1982). The need for
cognition. Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, 42,
116– 131.
 Fite, K. (2010). A Review of Drive: The Surprising Truth
What Motivates Us. Networks: Vol. 12, Issue
2, 1-3.
 Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T.,and Archer,
W. (2001).Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and
computer conferencing in distance education. The
American Journal of Distance Education, Vol. 15, No.
1, pp. 7 – 23.
 Hale, Michael S., and Elizabeth A. City. The teacher's
guide to
leading student-centered discussions:
talking about
texts in
the classroom.
 McCroskey, J. C. (1992). Reliability and validity of the
willingness to
communicate scale. Communication
Quarterly, 40, 16-25.
 Pintrich, P. R., & Groot, E. V. de. (1990). Motivational and selfregulated learning components of classroom academic
performance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1),
doi: 10.1037/0022-0663.82.1.33.
 Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). Intrinsic and Extrinsic
Motivations: Class Definitions and New
Directions. Contemporary
Educational Psychology, 25(1),
54-67. doi:10.1006/ceps.1999.1020
 Shedletsky, L. (2010). Critical Thinking in Discussion: Online
versus Face-to-Face. In D. Russell (Ed.). Cases on
Collaboration in Virtual Environments: Processes and
Interactions. Hershey, PA.: Information Science Reference.
 Stedman, N., Irani, T., Friedel, C., Rhoades, E., & Ricketts, J.,
Relationships between Critical Thinking
Disposition and Need for
Cognition among Undergraduate
Students Enrolled in Leadership
Courses. NACTA
Journal, 62-70.
 Stone, D., Patton, B., & Heen, S. (1999). Difficult
Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most. New
Penguin Group Inc.