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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Ronald Hallett

First Committee Member

Marlin Bates

Second Committee Member

Joanna Royce-Davis


As a popular co-curricular activity, forensic participation is considered as an effective educational tool in sharping students’ logic thinking abilities (Allen & Berkowitz, 1999; Bellon, 2000; Lieberman, Trumble & Smith, 2000). However, in China, compared with the growing enthusiasm in debate among the Chinese students, research in this field is relatively thin. Therefore, in order to gain an in-depth understanding of how forensic participation influence students’ critical thinking abilities, I conducted this multiple case study which was grounded in the Paul-Elder Model of Critical Thinking. My respondents are three national or regional champions from a well-known forensic team in Eastern China. My major data collection include three one-on-one interviews with the respondents, some secondary interviews with their coach and teachers, observations on their debate training, and some online data such as the official blog of the team, my e-mail correspondence with the students and information culled from their personal social networking sites. My two research questions are “How does college students’ thinking change as a result of participating in forensics?” and “What features of forensic participation support students’ development of critical thinking?” In terms of research question one, I have found that first, as a result of forensic participation, my respondents’ questioning, critical reading, analyzing and evaluating skills have improved. Second, they developed some intellectual traits that are indispensable to their critical thinking abilities. Third, forensic participation has to some extent helped them to get rid of ego-centric and socio-centric thinking, which paved the way for them to become an accomplished and responsible thinker. As to research question two, I found that both the educational and epistemic features support students’ development of critical thinking. I also found out motivation plays such an important role in students’ critical thinking development that it could be added into the framework of Paul’s Model of critical thinking. My recommendations include improving the instruction methods in debate courses and enhance both the quantity and quality of the intercollegiate and national competitions.





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