Differences in Critical Thinking Ability According to College Entry Pathway
The purpose of this study was to determine if entry pathway—direct from high school versus transfer from community college—influenced the critical thinking abilities of agricultural education students. Seventyfive senior-level agriculture undergraduate students completed a critical thinking assessment test. Although students entering the four-year university directly from high school had statistically significant higher ACT scores and semester GPA’s (which are known predictors of critical thinking ability), there were no statistically significant differences in critical thinking abilities between the two groups. When comparing students’ performance to national norms, regardless of entry pathway, students scored statistically lower than national norm data in the skill areas of identifying additional information needed to evaluate a hypothesis and providing relevant interpretations for a specific set of results. Further, agricultural education transfer students were shown to have a greater ability to think creatively than students who entered the four-year university directly from high school. Recognizing the importance of creative thinking to student success and overall critical thinking skill, curriculum and instructional development within agricultural education should focus on intentionally integrating creative and critical thinking.