The purpose of Pascarella (1999) was to determine if college has a statistically significant effect on the critical thinking skills of students relative to a matched group of students who did not attend college during the 1-year period of the study. The author set out to rule…
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The researcher had each participant complete the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (CTA). The CTA is broken down into five critical thinking subscales for more refined analysis. Based on McMillan (1986), Pascarella (1999) claims the CTA is effective at measuring critical thinking as “a broad and general construct” (p. 563). It seems that by citing McMillan (1986), the author here is lending outside support to his choice of instruments for conducting the study. Since the CTA measures a broad and general construct, Pascarella is suggesting that his study will have external validity.
Thirty participants went to college while seventeen did not (n=47). After a period of approximately one year, both of the matched groups took the CTA again. Based on the longitudinal differences within- and between-groups, Pascarella (1999) discovered that college versus non-college status had a significant effect in three of the six analyses conducted—namely, the total CTA score, the interpretation subscale, and the evaluation of arguments subscale (p. 565). Although no one specific college experience is significant enough to definitively influence the development of critical thinking skills, according to the author, the general experience has an effect (p.
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