Assessing Critical Thinking Skills through Collegiate Livestock Evaluation Participation
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Career-building competitions, such as collegiate livestock evaluation, claim to enhance writing and speaking skills, confidence in making decisions, teamwork, and critical thinking skills of participants, yet there is limited data to validate these claims. The aim of this study was to assess and record the role participating on a collegiate livestock team might play in developing critical thinking skills. The Watson-Glaser™ II Critical Thinking Appraisal (WGCTA) exam provided a way to objectively assess and record the critical thinking skills of collegiate livestock evaluators at two community colleges and two universities. Demographic information was obtained from 84 study participants to describe the characteristics of collegiate livestock evaluation. Although no statistically significant correlations were found between the demographic components and WGCTA scores, university participants recorded higher WGCTA mean scores in comparison to community college evaluators (P = 0.0019). The primary objective of this study was to assess the critical thinking level of collegiate livestock evaluation team members. The mean WGCTA score for all evaluators was (M = 20.92, SD = 4.65) out of a possible 40. The overall mean of community college participants (M = 19.30, SD = 3.52) and university participants (M = 22.39, SD = 5.08) was tabulated. In this study, male participants recorded higher mean WGCTA scores (M = 21.13, SD = 4.90) than females’ (M = 20.56, SD = 4.25); although a difference of 0.57 was recorded, a t-test concluded there was no significant statistical difference between the total raw critical thinking scores across genders. Participants with a GPA between 3.0–3.49 recorded the highest mean score in this study (M = 21.47, SD = 4.99), followed by those with a GPA of 3.5 and greater (M = 20.85, SD = 4.39), while participants with a GPA less than 2.9 recorded the lowest WGCTA mean (M = 19.00, SD = 1.42). A Pearson product-moment correlation was computed and identified a positive correlation between Top 10 individual finishes and the number of Top 10 finishes in oral reasons (r^2 = 0.84, n = 84, p < .0001). A positive correlation was discovered between Top 10 oral reason finishes and the number of contests attended (r^2 = 0.66, n = 84, p < .0001). Additionally, a positive correlation existed between Top 10 individual finishes and the number of contests attended (r = 0.59, n = 84, p < .0001). Likewise, as the total number of contests attended increased, the number of Top 10 finishes in oral reasons and Top 10 finishes individually increased. The mean WGCTA score for all livestock evaluators in this study was (M = 20.92, SD = 4.65) out of a possible 40, which positions collegiate livestock evaluators in the 22nd percentile of the 3–4 years of college norm group. These results contrast the findings of previous work, where participants from collegiate evaluation teams recorded higher critical thinking skills than non-evaluators. The results of this study indicate the need to incorporate various training activities to stimulate the development of critical thinking skills of collegiate livestock evaluators.
Poe, Allen Brant (2016). Assessing Critical Thinking Skills through Collegiate Livestock Evaluation Participation. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from