The Effect of the Directed Case Study Method on the Critical Thinking Skills of High School Students
Date of Award
Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.
College of Education
Belle B. Booker-Zorigian, Ph.D.
Jeffry White, Ph.D.
Keith Aldred, Ph.D.
Many teachers struggle to find teaching methods that meet educational goals effectively. One common instructional goal is to emphasize critical thinking. Generally, critical thinking refers to the way individuals approach problems, apply information in new ways, and understand multiple sides to an issue (Willingham, 2007). This quasi-experimental study investigated the effect of the directed case study method on the critical thinking skills of high school students. The directed case study is an example of case-based teaching, a method that features a relevant story and incorporates objective questions. The study was conducted in a large, semi-urban high school, with 79 ninth and 10th grade general biology students. Students were divided into a control group (n = 17) and a case study group (n = 62). Both groups were given a critical thinking testing instrument at the start of the study, a second version of the instrument at the mid-point of the study, and a third version of the instrument at the end of the study. The scores were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance with post-hoc tests. The design of this study offered an alternative to traditional pre and post-tests that are common to education research. In the results of this study, a statistically significant difference was shown between student scores on their first, second, and third attempts at the critical thinking test. There was a statistically significant interaction effect. However, the mean scores of the case study group remained consistent while the scores of the control group decreased over time. Based on these findings, the author suggests that the directed case study method may present a viable, active teaching methodology, but more research is needed.