Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair/Advisor

Layfield, K D

Committee Member

Birrenkott , Glenn

Committee Member

Skewes , Peter

Committee Member

Beck , Mary


To be successful in life, students will need to learn to make good decisions; many of them. Quality decision making is paramount for student success in future employment and their personal lives. To make a quality decision, one must weigh all possible options and understand as many of the implications of that decision as possible. Relating options and outcomes to previous experience is advantageous. The qualities mentioned above are reliant on critical thought processes. It is imperative that graduates seeking employment possess a balanced combination of base knowledge and independent thought combined with critical thinking ability. In order to produce students with this level of cognitive capability, multiple factors must be understood. This study utilized animal science undergraduates at Clemson University and sought to determine what attributes of the students contributed to differences in critical thinking ability, whether evaluation courses developed critical thinking skills to a higher degree than a non-evaluation course over a semester, how instructors were developing critical thinking skills in the classroom through discourse and challenges, and whether participation on a judging team enhanced critical thinking ability. Students who participated on a judging team scored higher when compared to national norms and when compared to their peers at Clemson University. Evaluation courses taught at the highest levels of cognition while non-evaluation courses taught at the lowest levels of cognition, and students in evaluation courses showed a greater change in critical thinking score (P=0.0001) than students not enrolled in an evaluation course. Differences in critical thinking ability were observed for different age levels, GPA categories, and prior animal evaluation training. Animal science programs should continue to offer opportunities to participate on a judging team and require students to take evaluation courses as part of a well rounded program of study, as evaluation course content/activities and judging team participation enhance critical thinking ability, which is a necessity for success in life.

Included in

Agriculture Commons



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