Comparisons of critical thinking between freshmen and sophomore community college students

Jesse Roland Smith

Abstract

The study compares the critical thinking ability of freshmen students to the critical thinking ability of sophomore students. The study also tests the relationship between the critical thinking ability of freshmen and sophomore students and the students' pre-admission, matriculation, and institutional characteristics. Freshmen students were identified as having no prior college experience or credit while sophomore students were identified as having completed or earned credit for a minimum of 32 semester hours but less than or equal to 64 semester hours. Both freshmen and sophomore students were given the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Inventory to measure their critical thinking ability. Other information was gathered from students' transcripts, admissions applications, and current schedules. Information concerning teacher experience was also gathered. The study was conducted at a comprehensive junior/community college in the southeastern region of the United States. Only students majoring in academic transfer programs were included in this study except for those students majoring in the Associate Degree Nursing program, which is a two-year technical program. There were 128 freshmen and 143 sophomore students included in this study. The t -test results of hypothesis I were statistically significant at the confidence level of .05. Thus, there is a significant difference between the critical thinking ability of freshmen and sophomore students. The multiple correlation results of hypothesis 2 were statistically significant at the confidence level of .05. Thus, there is a significant relationship between the critical thinking ability of freshmen students and their pre-admission, matriculation, and institutional characteristics. Finally, the multiple correlation results of hypothesis 3 were statistically significant at the .05 level. Thus, there is a significant relationship between the critical thinking ability of sophomore students and their pre-admission, matriculation, and institutional characteristics. The null hypothesis for hypotheses 1, 2, and 3 were rejected at the .05 level of significance. The ultimate goal of this study was to determine if there is a change in a student's critical thinking ability as related to that students college environment which is identified by students' pre-admission, matriculation, and institutional characteristics.