Classifying Master’s and PhD Theses Whose Titles Contain Concept of “Critical Thinking” by Different Variables

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Independent and original thinking are the concepts which define critical thinking. A critical thinker doesn’t passively accept other people’s views and thoughts, on the contrary he constitutes his own thoughts by analyzing them. This independence liberates his mind, heart and actions (Doğanay and Ünal, 2006). In this context, the definition of critical thinking can be summarized as reaching a conclusion by reasoning (collecting information for a present situation, defining assumptions and evidences, discussing the defined evidences and inferring and synthesizing) on a problem or a situation (Demirel, 2006). Critical thinking becomes a basic skill in occupational groups. To improve the quality of the services people get, all professionals, especially doctors, teachers, architects, lawyers, nurses, builders, must have the ability to think critically.

This study aims to classify the master’s and PhD theses whose titles contain the concept of “critical thinking” by different variables. The data were collected from the 211 master’s and PhD theses completed between 1999 – 2014 and registered to database of Council of Higher Education. This study was conducted through descriptive survey model and descriptive statistics were used in the analysis process. Thesis were examined and classified under the following topics; (1) academic level, (2) the universities in which they were prepared, (3) preparation year, (4) research method, (5) research model, (6) education level of the participants, (7) departments in which they were prepared (8) gender of the researchers, (9) degree of the supervisors (10) number of pages.

At the end of the study it was found that most of the theses about critical thinking were master’s theses and they were prepared in well-established universities. There are hardly any theses prepared in private universities. The number of theses about critical thinking reached its top point between 2009-2012. While most of the master’s theses were conducted through quantitative method, most of the PhD theses were conducted through mixed and experimental designs. The participants of most of the theses about critical thinking were university and primary school students. Teachers and nurses participated in more theses than other occupational groups. Most of the theses about critical thinking were conducted in the field of education. nursing and heath care departments takes the second place. However, it is interesting that hardly any theses were conducted in the fields of law, politics, public administration, sociology and psychology. Another interesting point is that most of the theses were prepared by female researchers.

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