Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural and Extension Education and Evaluation

Document Type



Cognitive and metacognitive ability have been identified as a critical factor that influences individuals to successfully problem-solve. However, recent research has indicated that students do not have the necessary 21st-century skills to be successful in the workplace. This issue has been confounded by the lack of school-based agricultural education (SBAE) teachers’ limited knowledge regarding effectively teaching decision-making skills and the use of teaching methods that promote problem-solving. Therefore, this study sought to understand the effect that cognitive and metacognitive ability had on the problem-solving of students who are enrolled in an Introduction to Agricultural Mechanics course at Louisiana State University. All 28 students in this course participated in both the quantitative and qualitative phases of this study. Therefore, to accomplish the objectives of this study, we utilized an embedded mixed-methods design to gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon; specifically, the qualitative phase was used to triangulate and provide more insight into the findings of the quantitative measures. The quantitative results of this study found no difference between content knowledge, time to solution, hypothesis generation, problem-solving behavior, and metacognitive ability on cognitive diversity and problem-solving ability. However, statistically significant differences were found between course motivation and cognitive diversity. Further, the multiple regression analysis revealed that the lower-level thinking skills predicted 93% of the total variance in overall problem-solving ability, which indicated that students struggled to utilize their higher-order skills. Finally, upon qualitative analysis, three themes emerged: (a) navigating troubleshooting, (b) cognitive supports, and (c) thinking-about-thinking. Thus, the findings from this study provided insights into the factors associated with students’ problem-solving ability.



Committee Chair

Dr. Richie Roberts