Establishing the Place of Critical Thinking in Leadership Education: An Integrative Review

Date of Award

Spring 2018

Call Number

HD57.7 F652 2018

Document Type

Bibliographic Record

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth Turesky, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Daniel M. Jenkins, Ph.D.


Critical thinking, cognition, cognitive, leadership development, andragogy, pedagogy, Leadership and Organizational Studies


The primary purpose of this integrative review is to explore the relationship between discipline specific critical thinking skills and leadership development. Critical thinking involves a set of competencies associated with purposeful, self-regulatory judgement, which, when applied to interpretation, analysis, and evaluation, results in informed decision making (Facione, 1990). The need for critical thinking in leadership education has been explored by leadership scholars (Burbach, 2004; Jenkins & Andenoro, 2016; Powley & Taylor, 2014), and the topic has advanced to the stage where a review and synthesis of existing literature can provide a starting point to move the scholarly conversation forward. The integrative review was chosen as a methodology due to its exploratory nature.

Following the methodology established by Whittemore and Knafl (2005), the researcher considered disparate studies representing various perspectives on the topic. This methodology applies a constant comparative method throughout the research process. This inductive approach revealed a comprehensive picture of the importance of critical thinking as a leadership competency. Findings include the need to develop leadership learning from a particular learning paradigm, and the limited number of existing models that demonstrate this paradigm in both theory and practice. Andragogic approaches to developing critical thinking in a leadership classroom setting are discussed. The hope is that this research creates a dialogue that addresses the role that critical thinking can play in leadership development.


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