Date of Award

4-25-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Ann Crawford

Second Advisor

Debra L. Ainbinder

Third Advisor

Maureen Goldstein

Abstract

The ability to think critically is an important condition for success in school and life. Promoting the development of critical thinking skills through arts education would have an impact on curriculum developments, specifically the utilization of study in the arts as a learning strategy and the revisiting of the purpose of arts education. Arts education has the unique capacity to teach children to think creatively, imaginatively, and critically, while also benefiting subject-specific curriculum (Deasy, 2002).

Eisner (2005) asserts that the arts are as essential to students' intellectual development as study in mathematics or the sciences. The purpose of this non-experimental, exploratory (comparative), and explanatory (correlational) secondary research study was to investigate the relationships among student demographic characteristics, curriculum characteristics, i iv characteristics, and critical thinking as measured by performance on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT) for Broward County 12th grade students. Secondary analysis of data previously collected by the researcher was used for answering the research questions and testing the hypotheses presented in the study.

The study is significant in that exploration of the topic may provide implications for reform in curriculum design to better focus on the promotion of students' acquisition of essential skills for success in school and subsequently in the workplace, such as critical thinking. "In an educational system strapped for money and increasingly ruled by standardized tests, arts courses can seem almost a needless extravagance, and the arts are being cut back at schools across the nation" (Winner & Hetland, 2008, p. 1). As a result of the current emergence of technological advances and globalization, the need for students' ability to acquire critical thinking skills in order to prepare for success in the workforce is not only observed in the United States but has global implications, as well (Hartman, Bentley, Richards, & Krebs, 2005).

Six research questions and three hypotheses were generated for this study about the relationships among student demographic characteristics, curriculum characteristics, academic characteristics, and critical thinking performance. These are based on the key gaps in the literature, the recommendations of this study, and the theoretical framework that was used to guide this study.

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