Seeking Critical Thinking in an Undergraduate Seminar: Is the Motivation to Think Deeply and Willingness to Communicate Associated with Critical Thinking? 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 research. Research 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. Hypotheses 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 thinking. H3: The Need for Cognition is associated with critical thinking. Method Subjects 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. Method 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 thinking. sessions chosen periodically throughout the semester of this senior seminar were coded for 8 different discussion variables. Method 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. Results 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= .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= .594, p<.035). Results 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= -.136, p<.354) and exploration (rs=.355, p<.157). Results 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=.239, p< .253) and exploration (rs=.382, p<.138). Discussion 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. Discussion 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. Discussion 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 thinking. Where This Research Has Taken Me 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. Acknowledgements 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. References 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 about 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. References McCroskey, J. C. (1992). 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