Blackburn, J. J., & Robinson, J. S. (2017). An investigation of factors that influence the hypothesis generation ability of students in school-based agricultural education programs when troubleshooting small gasoline engines. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(2), 50-66.


The purpose of this study was to determine if selected factors influenced the ability of students in school-based agricultural education programs to generate a correct hypothesis when troubleshooting small gasoline engines.  Variables of interest included students’ cognitive style, age, GPA, and content knowledge in small gasoline engines.  Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation Inventory was employed to assess cognitive style and a researcher developed criterion-referenced test was utilized to determine small gasoline content knowledge.  Students were assigned randomly, by cognitive style, to generate a hypothesis for either a simple or complex small gasoline engine problem.  A similar number of students were able to correctly hypothesize the fault in their assigned engine regardless of cognitive style.  However, differences were noted between the more adaptive and more innovative students.  A binary logistic regression revealed that as cognitive style score increased, the odds of generating a correct hypothesis decreased.  Additionally, older students were more likely to generate an incorrect hypothesis.  Teachers should encourage students to hypothesize when engaged in problem solving activities, but should be aware of individual differences such as cognitive style. 

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