Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Education and Studies

First Advisor

Thomas H. Paulsen

Second Advisor

Michael S. Retallick


The purpose of this dissertation was to describe the current critical thinking abilities of undergraduate agriculture education and studies students, and to explore how entry pathway and enrollment in a capstone course affect these abilities. Objectives were to: (1) establish a departmental benchmark for the critical thinking abilities of senior-level agricultural education and studies students; (2) determine if entry pathway, direct from high school admittance versus transfer from community college admittance, has an effect on critical thinking abilities; and (3) examine the impact a semester-long capstone farm management course has on the development of critical thinking abilities.

For objectives one and two, 75 senior-level undergraduates in the Department of Agricultural Education and Studies at Iowa State University were randomly selected to complete a critical thinking assessment test during spring 2013 semester. T-tests and a step-wise regression model analyzing predictors of critical thinking ability were used to analyze data. For objective three, paired sample t-tests were used to determine differences in 25 students' pre- and post-test scores in a capstone farm management course.

Overall, students performed greatest in their abilities to evaluate and interpret information, but were unable to master critical thinking abilities founded in creative thinking and effective communications. Step-wise regression for total critical thinking scores revealed the ACT score as the only significant predictor of overall critical thinking ability. Students' overall critical thinking abilities were not significantly influenced by entry pathway or enrollment in the semester-long capstone farm management course. However, enrollment in the capstone course positively influenced students' abilities to summarize patterns of results in a graph.


Copyright Owner

Dustin Kensel Perry



File Format


File Size

173 pages