Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Cherie Gaines

Second Advisor

Julia Kirk

Third Advisor

Rebecca Burleson


Developmental psychologists defined adolescent cognitive development as a period of time when individuals learn to mentally separate from adults and establish a self‑sufficient identity capable of the autonomous thought necessary to apply higher-order thinking. In contrast, college professors of the millennial generation stated that students demonstrate increased immaturity levels inconsistent with those of prior generations. Hence, the focus of this study was to examine the higher-order thinking strategies that teachers of adolescents have implemented within the five top performing middle schools in the state of Georgia. The findings offered a potential coexistence of higher-order thinking abilities and autonomous behavior and suggested that a better fluency in higher-order thinking could supply students with the critical thinking and autonomous problem-solving skills required to succeed in future endeavors.


Critical thinking, Georgia, Middle schools, Problem solving