Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Education and Studies


Agricultural Education

First Advisor

Michael Retallick


The purpose of this thesis was to explore differences in critical thinking skills between freshmen and senior Animal Science Students at Iowa State University and determine where in the curriculum the critical thinking skills are being taught. This study encompassed 4 objectives: 1) compare freshmen and senior animal science students to the national critical thinking skill norms 2) determine if there’s a difference between freshmen and senior animal science students in critical thinking 3) determine if there’s a difference in critical thinking skills based upon selected demographics variables 4) map critical thinking skills instructional methods in core animal science courses.

For objectives one, two, and three a group of freshmen (n=55) and seniors (n=60) in the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University were randomly selected to participate in taking the Critical Thinking Assessment Test (CAT) during the fall 2016 semester. The results were analyzed for comparisons with national norm scores, between each group, and based upon specific demographics.

For objective four, twelve of the core animal science courses were selected to be analyzed to determine where the critical thinking skills were being taught. Instructors of each course participated in a self-reporting interview to gather the information which skills were being taught and examples of each of the fifteen critical thinking skills described by the CAT Exam being implemented. From there, an analysis of how effective the methods were to teach critical thinking skills was conducted.

For objective one the freshman group scored better than the national norm with a p< 0.05, while the senior group scored less than the national norm p <0.05. In objective two the senior group scored significantly higher than the freshmen group p<0.05. Objective three results showed no significant difference within gender, however there was a difference between freshmen males and senior females. Objective four, there was no consistency in teaching critical thinking skills within the curriculum.

Overall this study provides the Department of Animal Science at Iowa State University a better understanding of the level of critical thinking skills for each grade level and where the skills are being taught within the curriculum.


Copyright Owner

Sarah Al-Mazroa



File Format


File Size

109 pages