Date of Graduation

12-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

James O. Hammons

Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Second Committee Member

Dub Ashton

Third Committee Member

Suzanne McCray

Keywords

Education; Critical thinking; First-year students; Gifted education; Good practices; Honors colleges; Honors programs; Longitudinal studies

Abstract

This longitudinal study analyzed pretest-posttest data to 1) examine the influence of honors programs on first-year college students' critical thinking skills, 2) to determine whether students in honors programs receive more exposure to good practices in undergraduate education than their non-honors peers, and 3) to assess the effect of good practices on critical thinking. The quasi-experimental study also investigated whether the influence of honors programs on critical thinking skills varied in direction and magnitude for male versus female students and White versus students of color. To replicate an earlier study conducted by Seifert et al. (2007), the current study utilized data from a recent national study, the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education. In order to fulfill this purpose, five research questions were addressed using descriptive statistics analysis and Ordinary Least Squared multiple regression. The current study included 1,824 first-year college students from 21 institutions that offered an honors program during the first-year of college. The treatment group (honors students) consisted of 306 students, whereas the control group (non-honors students) consisted of 1,518 students. The findings indicate that honors programs did not have a statistically significant effect on honors students' critical thinking or their exposure to good practices in undergraduate education. Furthermore, the effect of honors program participation did not differ in direction or magnitude for male versus female students and White versus students of color.

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