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Using Unstructured Questions to Enhance Critical Thinking in an Asynchronous, Online, Introductory Financial Accounting Course

, University of Calgary , Canada

Doctor of Education, University of Calgary . Awarded


Stakeholders are concerned that accounting graduates cannot consistently demonstrate critical thinking (CT) skills. Assessments such as unstructured questions have been used successfully in both face-to-face and online senior courses in an effort to enhance CT skill development, but little is known about the impact of such interventions in online junior courses. This study invited students enrolled in an asynchronous, continuous-enrollment, online offering of an introductory accounting course to participate in a control and experimental group. An intervention aimed at enhancing a student's CT skill development was introduced to students in the experimental group. The intervention engaged students in a web-based, active learning method that required them to respond to unstructured questions to which peers provided and assessed reciprocal feedback. Although peer assessments were not included as part of a student's course grade, students received a maximum of 5% based on their rate of participation with the intervention. Two sources of data were collected: 1) survey responses from the experimental group regarding students' experience with the intervention, and 2) differences in the midterm and final exam results between the control and experimental groups. An analysis of the survey data collected from the experimental participants indicated that their perception regarding the impact of the intervention on their learning was generally favourable despite concerns raised about the reciprocal feedback process. However, the validity of the respondents' feedback was put into question because of the significant non-response rate. Based on an analysis of the midterm and final exam grades, the null hypothesis that no statistically significant difference existed between the midterm and final examination results of the control and experimental groups was accepted. This conclusion does not mean, however, that CT cannot be measured, nor does it mean that the intervention did not enhance CT skill development. It is more likely that the results from this study mean that grades were not a sufficient indicator of CT. This interpretation raises the question of what, then, would be an effective measure of CT? The results demonstrate that continued research is required to determine what strategy(s) might be effective in measuring CT.


Jensen, T.M. Using Unstructured Questions to Enhance Critical Thinking in an Asynchronous, Online, Introductory Financial Accounting Course. Doctor of Education thesis, University of Calgary. Retrieved February 8, 2023 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 22, 2013. [Original Record]

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