Document Type


Date of Degree Completion

Summer 2020

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Ian Quitadamo

Second Committee Member

Jennifer Dechaine

Third Committee Member

Ralf Greenwald


We live in an era when a college degree is essentially required for entry into good-paying careers, and yet achievement of a college degree is unacceptably low. Only 60% of students who enroll go on to graduate from 4-year colleges and universities in 6 years or fewer (National Center for Higher Education 2018). Why is this happening? What are the long-term intellectual and economic implications of ill-prepared students? We must ask ourselves if students are really prepared with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be successful in college and whether those attributes are developed while in college. Two of the skills and dispositions successful university students possess are critical thinking skills (Giancarlo and Facione 2001) and an internal locus of control (Findley and Cooper 1983), outcomes that appear to be facilitated by metacognitive techniques (Arslan and Akin 2014, Magno 2010). This study strived to determine if increasing metacognitive practices in an undergraduate nonmajors biology class would shift students’ academic locus of control and critical thinking skills within an academic quarter. Study subjects were Fundamentals of Biology students enrolled at Central Washington University. A quasi-experimental study design was used to compare two groups of students; one group that experienced increased metacognitive questioning in lab handouts and one group that was taught using standard lab handouts. Group participants each completed an Academic Locus of Control Scale (Curtis and Trice 2013) and California Critical Thinking Skills Test (Faicone 1990) at the beginning and end of a 10-week quarter to determine gains. Through the results of this study, we determined that the metacognitive intervention did not cause significant critical thinking gains nor a shift in academic locus of control. Over 60% of the non-metacognitive lab worksheet questions in this course did not prompt students to think critically. Our future suggestion is to increase the proportion of critical thinking questions in courses to facilitate university-level academic success.