Date of Award

Spring 4-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche

Third Advisor

Dr. Joseph Alsobrook


In this study, a high school teacher’s applied various pedagogical, critical thinking, and reading strategies within a high school classroom. As students prepare to become productive members of a democratic society in the 21st century, some students need focused literacy instruction to meet the increasing literacy demands; students who lag behind in critical thinking have a disadvantage. This teacher’s action research study with struggling high school readers investigated whether implementing the pedagogical Gradual Release of Responsibility model (GRR) while engaging students with intertextual texts (juxtaposing two or more texts) within a reading community increased their critical thinking skills. The participants included 35 ninth and tenth grade struggling readers in reading classes. The researcher used Reading Plus (2014) online silent reading comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary assessment; Fountas and Pinnell (2014) oral reading and silent reading comprehension assessment; the Weltzer-Ward, Baltes and Lynn’s (2008) Critical Thinking Assessment Framework (TAF); high school students’ self-reflections with teacher-made prompts; and the researcher’s action research journal to determine and monitor high school students’ reading and critical thinking progress. Teacher-made rubric tools measured critical thinking with 10 high school student blogs in response to high school teacher-made prompts reflecting the state’s spring standardized assessment. Within the reading class structure, the researcher created a university partnership that consisted of one education class containing students from various disciplines who communicated and offered insights and feedback throughout the high school students’ 10 blogs. The researcher offered strategies and designed the high school reading course to iii encourage student choice and autonomy and made teaching modifications based on students’ behavioral needs, academic progress, and struggles. Data analysis revealed 35 ninth and tenth grade students increased their critical thinking skills over the 2014-2015 school year; however, time constraint challenges and multiple reading program components negated drawing a clear picture of which aspect held the highest value. The researcher’s journal noted that parent communication, student conferences, flexible due dates, individualized instructional scaffolding, and the online reading program contributed to students’ critical thinking. The journal revealed a consistent teacher expectation for students to engage in the critical thinking progress.


Copyright 2016