Perry, D.K., Paulsen, T., and Retallick, M.S. (2015). The impact of a capstone farm management course on critical thinking abilities. Journal of Agricultural Education, 56(2), 13-26. doi: 10.5032/jae.2015.02013
Current research demonstrates a need to explore the effects of specific course designs or directed activities on higher education students' critical thinking abilities. Specifically, such research on the effect of an experiential learning-based capstone course is limited. All students (N = 54) enrolled in a capstone farm management course completed a critical thinking assessment test through a pretest–posttest design, and 25 of the paired tests were analyzed using t tests. Although there were no statistically significant increases for overall critical thinking scores, there was a significant increase in one subskill: Summarize a pattern of results in a graph. The capstone course in this study may emphasize only certain subskills of critical thinking development while negating to address others. The key implication for instructors of similar capstone courses is to be intentional in targeting development of the wide array of specific skills shown to affect overall critical thinking abilities.