The Relationship Between Problem Based Learning and the Development of Critical Thinking Skills in Higher Education

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D)


Curriculum and Instruction

Date of Award

Summer 2014


Many academic disciplines use problem-based learning (PBL), which focuses on realistic issues that students are likely to encounter beyond the college atmosphere. This learning strategy is student-focused and accentuates inductive logic, deductive reasoning, and critical thinking skills. Problem-based learning is also collaborative in nature and requires that students work together, demonstrate ongoing interpersonal communication skills, and evaluate realistic solutions to problematic scenarios. The researcher conducted a quasi-experimental design that involved two groups of sociology students at the community college level during the Fall 2013. As a total of 151 students participated in the study. The treatment group included 92 students, and the comparison group included 59 students. The results yielded no overall significant difference between two critical thinking skills, deduction and inference. However, these skills significantly decreased from the pretest to the posttest, which were unexpected results. No significant difference was found between pretest and posttest scores of the PBL and non-PBL groups. However, all of the critical thinking scales for both groups decreased from pretest to posttest, except for the evaluation in the PBL group, which increased from pretest to posttest. The induction scale remained the same from pretest to the posttest scores in the PBL group, and decreased from the pretest to the posttest score in the non-PBL group.


Joyce A. Scott

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Higher Education