This case study explored how instructional methods that included action learning impacted the critical thinking of adult learners enrolled in a development course. The study also examined how adult learners perceived and described changes in their critical thinking as a result of their experience with action learning methods. The conceptual framework that guided this research included Paul and Elder's (2009a) critical thinking model and Marquardt's (2004) action learning model. Critical thinking has been recognized as an important part of adulthood (Brookfield, 1987). However, the literature is deficient in describing adult critical thinking development after postsecondary education. This study of critical thinking development focused on the experience of the working adult after postsecondary education.
The participants included students and faculty of the Program Manager's Course offered at the Defense Acquisition University. The primary data collection technique was interviews and surveys, with secondary data collection from observation, document analysis, and preexisting test results. The data analysis was done simultaneously with the data collection and coding processes; findings were developed that interpreted the data and developed inferences of relationships.
This research is significant for at least three reasons. First, the findings of the study provide information about specific instructional strategies that may impact development or enhancement of adult critical thinking skills after postsecondary education. Second, understanding the impact of action learning methods on critical thinking development is likely to add significant value to the action learning literature. Although action learning provides a structured process that elicits critical thinking, the literature does not specifically address application of action learning methods in critical thinking instruction or development. Finally, this research provides insight into methods that may improve the practice of program management in defense programs and improve the quality of decision-making outcomes. The federal government in general and the defense acquisition organization specifically are under significant pressure to operate efficiently and improve program performance. The study of critical thinking development and action learning methods in a management development context may guide the improvement of the decision making of senior managers.
|Advisor:||Marquardt, Michael J.|
|Commitee:||Hale, Enoch, Soffe, Stephen|
|School:||The George Washington University|
|Department:||Human and Organizational Learning|
|School Location:||United States -- District of Columbia|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Instructional Design, Adult education|
|Keywords:||Action learning, Active learning environment, Adult learning, Critical thinking, Metacognitive development, Reflective practice, Senior managers|
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