Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Robert L. Infantino, EdD, Director; Edward F. DeRoche, PhD; Edward Kujawa Jr., PhD


children & youth, critical thinking skills, literature curriculum, middle schools, Paideia seminars, seventh grade level


There are many programs which purport to teach thinking skills. If thinking skills of reasoning, logic, explaining, judging, and deciding can be taught, are there some ways to teach thinking that are more effective than other ways? The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Paideia seminars on the critical thinking skills of seventh grade students. Paideia seminars are discussions held in a seminar format and involve active participation on the part of students and teachers. The format for the Paideia seminars was taken from The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto (Adler, 1982). There were four main hypotheses divided into subgroups by gender and ability levels of high, average, and low. The hypotheses addressed the results of the analysis of the pretest and posttest data of experimental and control group students on the Cornell Critical Thinking Test, Level X, and the significance of the mean gain scores. The results of the quantitative data were inconclusive. The experimental group made significant gains in critical thinking skills in comparison to one control group but not to the second control group. Students in the low ability groups made greater mean gains in critical thinking skills than either the average or high ability group students. The mean gain scores of females in the experimental group were significant when compared to the mean gain scores of males in the experimental group on the Cornell Critical Thinking Test, Level X. The qualitative data from interviews of the two seminar teachers and the students in the experimental group provided more conclusive evidence of the worth of participation in Paideia seminars. Both the teachers and the students expressed positive attitudes and provided feedback on successful aspects of the seminars. Teachers of the experimental group students learned the skills necessary to facilitate Paideia seminars which promoted critical thinking skills. The debriefing which followed each seminar experience helped these teachers increase their skills in assessing, organizing, and questioning. Students who participated in the Paideia seminars stated that the experience of reading and discussing a piece of literature helped them to better understand the text, improved their grades in writing assignments, promoted better study and work habits, and increased their willingness to accept the points of view espoused by other students.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access