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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Ernest Washington

Second Advisor

Craig Wells

Third Advisor

Mzamo Mangoliso

Fourth Advisor

Edmund Gordon

Subject Categories



This study reports an exploratory study of the 3CAM model of classroom learning. 3CAM is an acronym for concept maps, critical thinking, collaboration, and mastery. It is a student-centered approach to mastery learning that empowers students to take responsibility for their own learning. The model is a theory and a practice. The theory is the language games of critical thinking and the practice is the activities of visualizing concept maps, applying critical thinking, collaborating, and creating their own assessment. Students play the language games of critical thinking using the WH questions: “what, when, why, where, who and how”. Students apply the model each week to the chapters of a child development text. The study also compared two groups of students: a group working collaboratively and a group working individually using the 3CAM model. The results of the study support the practices of the activities of the model as well as the theory of the language games of critical thinking. The data reveal that students who work collaboratively use significantly more “why, how and when” questions in creating their concept maps. The most used critical thinking question was “what”, and its use declined in the collaborative group as the use of “why, how and when” increased. The use of “what” remained the same for the individual group. Student comments about the model were so supportive of both theory and practice.


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