Date of Award

Spring 5-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Education & Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Frank LaBanca, EdD

Second Advisor

Marcia A. B. Delcourt, PhD

Third Advisor

Jennifer F. Mitchell, EdD


This study examined the potential benefits of instructional strategies that scaffold the development of higher order thinking (HOT) questions on reader self-efficacy and critical thinking. Another goal of this study aimed to investigate the relationship between reader self-efficacy and critical thinking. The explicit instruction of HOT questions involves four steps: (a) selecting Bloom’s revised taxonomy to identify effective question strands; (b) assessing HOT questions use through the Classroom Practice Record (CPR); (c) implementing strategy instruction focusing on explicit scaffolding techniques and allowing time to practice the implementation of strategies during assigned lessons for a period of eight weeks; and, (d) evaluating student self-efficacy, critical thinking, and HOT question use.

Using a sample of convenience, this quantitative quasi-treatment design utilized 262 students at two different school sites belonging to the same District Reference Group (DRG). This study assessed the impact of instructional scaffolding of HOT questions in four classes among heterogeneously grouped students in sixth grade. Two teachers were trained in the instruction and implementation of the program. One school was assigned to receive the treatment of instructional scaffolding of HOT questions while the remaining school served as the comparison group.

Several conclusions were drawn from the results. When teachers received explicit training in scaffolding HOT questions in the classroom, both students and teachers asked significantly more HOT questions than the comparison group. Results also point to a positive correlation between reader self-efficacy and critical thinking whereby students were more efficacious concerning their ability to read when they also demonstrate stronger critical thinking skills.

Based on this study, it is recommended that scaffolding be explicitly used in the classroom to support effective learning. When teachers consciously and consistently apply scaffolding techniques, learning strategies become systematic. Furthermore, a questioning framework such as Bloom’s revised taxonomy provides an important framework that enables the learner and teacher to use verbs to actively identify diverse forms of thinking. The organization of thinking into six levels (remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating) represented a pragmatic way to design higher order thinking tasks, coinciding with scaffolding techniques, to improve student learning.