First Advisor

Micki M. Caskey

Term of Graduation

Fall 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Earth sciences -- Study and teaching (Higher), Science teachers -- Attitudes, Community college teaching, Critical thinking



Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 174 pages)


Research has shown that modern courses and programs designed to foster critical thinking vary in both content and delivery, in turn leading to differences in their effectiveness. Few studies have investigated critical thinking among nontraditional students at community colleges taking STEM courses, especially within the geosciences. Furthermore, such research has focused primarily on the students with few if any studies involving faculty. This study examined the perceptions held by community college geoscience faculty regarding critical thinking and how such perceptions influenced their choice of instructional strategies. This study used a basic qualitative methodology and a maximum variation sampling to select seven participants. The data collected included one survey, two semi-structured interviews, documents, and the researcher's field notes for each of the seven participants. The analysis of the data used two coding cycles. The first cycle used in vivo coding (i.e., open coding) and values coding. The second cycle used pattern coding. The study findings centered around five themes: (a) critical thinking has a hierarchical order, (b) the misalignment of how faculty, departments and institutions understand critical thinking, (c) critical thinking is embedded in scientific literacy, (d) critical thinking takes time, and (e) the pedagogy of hope. Ultimately, the perception and use of critical thinking instructional strategies among community college geoscience faculty was implicit. This characteristic of implicitness permeated the epistemological stances and held belief systems of faculty. It also seemed to influence the pedagogy of critical thinking at the departmental and institutional level. Recognizing the implicit characteristic of critical thinking could offer opportunities for faculty, departments, and institutions to develop critical thinking instruction.


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