Summer 8-15-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Andreas Schramm

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Patsy Egan Vinogradov

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Paul Wieser


The primary purpose of this study was to determine the types and critical thinking skills used by adult ESL students as they learned technology skills through an inquiry approach. The results are based on the types of critical thinking skills that were utilized by adult students working collaboratively on an Excel computer project. Critical thinking was measured by coding audio recordings using the Transitions Integration Framework’s critical thinking skills category. Data were quantified by frequency of occurrence for each sub skill of critical thinking. Results show the most prominent critical thinking skills used by students in this study are problem-solving and decision-making. A secondary focus of this study was to determine the cognitive complexity of the tasks involved in this study. Critical thinking data were examined using Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) scale to measure the cognitive complexity. The results indicate that students were cognitively processing at a DOK level 2 and 3 as they engaged in the critical thinking of problem-solving and evaluation. Based on the findings, 21st Century success skills such as collaboration and critical thinking may be integrated with technology and Language Arts content in the adult ESL class. Furthermore, the findings suggest that inquiry-based learning deepened students’ understanding of the computer application as a result of using critical thinking skills with their peers. This study adds to an area of educational research on inquiry-based learning, collaboration, critical thinking, English language learners, adult education and the integration of technology.

Research Methodology

Case Study, Observation


Adult Education, ESL/ ELLs, Literacy, Technology

Included in

Education Commons