Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Susan L. Schramm-Pate


The goals of the present action research study were to understand intelligence analysts’ perceptions of weapon systems visual recognition (vis-recce) training and to determine the impact of a Critical Thinking Training (CTT) Seminar and Formative Assessments on unit-level intelligence analysts' vis-recce performance at a mid-western United States Air Force (USAF) base where the participant-researcher is the USAF unit’s senior intelligence officer which is congruent with action research methods. The identified problem of practice is based on the fact that after decades of viewing vis-recce training as a rote requirement and watching intelligence analysts struggle on the summative assessment, the USAF had no plans to refocus its curriculum and pedagogy until the present study where a CTT Seminar was developed from critical educational theories of metacognition, learner motivation, differentiated learning, and alternative assessment strategies. The student-participants’ attitudes toward this new approach is the focus of the present study which was guided by the research question: What are USAF intelligence analysts’ perceptions of the efficacy of weapon systems vis-recce training in the operations intelligence profession? The qualitative data collected during the first of two action research cycles consisted of a survey of 15 intelligence analysts, and the second cycle included semi-structured interviews, field notes, observations, informal conversations, a participant-researcher-developed vis-recce pretest, and vis-recce post test from three of the 15 student-participants (i.e., “Sally,” “Joe,” and “Bill”) who were selected to participate in semi-structured interviews and subsequent participation in a CTT Seminar with Formative Assessments that were aligned to Anderson’s et al. (2001) Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy and measured by intellectual standards at all cognitive dimensions. Data analysis revealed that after participating in the CTT Seminar that was guided by Formative Assessments (rather than a single summative assessment at the end of the typical lesson), intelligence analysts’ vis-recce performance increased, they were motivated by the approach, and they ultimately demonstrated metacognition in a content area that was formally aligned by USAF behaviorist curriculum developers to the basic knowledge level of an antiquated Bloom’s Taxonomy (1956). Two major themes were discovered during the present study: 1. Attitudes of Intelligence Analysts Towards Vis-recce; and 2. Attitudes of Intelligence Analysts Towards CTT and Formative Assessments. A two phase Action Plan is recommended to further address the stated problem of practice. After the participant-researcher conducts professional development with the unit’s intelligence instructors on the CTT Seminar, Formative Assessments, and action research methods, the instructors will, themselves, conduct several cycles of research over 12 months to capture and analyze data from mission qualified intelligence analysts. A quantitative second phase of research may then be conducted to measure the intelligence analysts’ achievement on the USAF-required summative assessment after participating in a CTT Seminar with Formative Assessments that are aligned with the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (Anderson et al., 2001) and guided by intellectual standards.