Background and Objectives:One of the main challenges in Iranian higher education system is the fact that students are not entitled to the skills of thinking and reasoning. In particular, this issue manifests itself in situations where learners are expected to critique and redesign old ideas and thoughts with the power of creativity and innovation, and even creating new and innovative ideas and theories. The lack of attention paid by universities and higher education institutions to training and transferring of thinking skills, creative thinking, and problem-solving ability to challenge decision-making situations has made students rely solely on memorization and pre-prepared results. One of the fields of application of thinking is the issue of entrepreneurship, the close connection of which with creativity has clearly been confirmed in the literature. By institutionalizing entrepreneurship education through the transfer of thinking skills to students to create ideas, they are acquainted with the concept of entrepreneurship, by which they are inspired to create innovative ideas and thoughts. In this regard, entrepreneurial universities develop entrepreneurial skills and help students to start new businesses and network with economic agents in order to support university entrepreneurs. If universities and higher education institutions are not able to step towards entrepreneurial development and do not give thought to this issue, there would be no justification for their survival and continued work in long run, as macro-development frameworks will be implemented based on objective economic indicators and criteria. Hence, the six-hat method of thinking relies on students' thinking power to design career topics. This approach, in essence, will help students have the necessary efficiency and skills in thinking about different aspects of a business issue, especially in designing a business plan. For this reason, the present study was conducted with the aim of investigating the effect of six thinking hats (STHs) of De Bono on improving the cognitive abilities and skills of agricultural students in the entrepreneurship course.
Methods: In this study, 80 undergraduate agricultural students in the University of Maragheh (the academic year 2016-2017) were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups according to a quasi-experimental design of Solomon's four stages. To assess the cognitive ability of the cases, a business questionnaire for the construction of a fish farming unit was used. SPSS software was used to analyze the data and calculate the effect size of the results.
Findings: The results unveil that the approach of STHs makes a significant difference in the knowledge of the cases in four experimental groups on the development of business plan (F = 40.89, df = 79, p < /em> < 0.001). Furthermore, there was a significant difference between pre-test and post-test scores of the participants in different groups (SΔ = 8.16, df = 22, p < /em> < 0.0010) with the effect size of 0.75 ( = 0.75), indicating a significant effect for the STHs on learning. Additionally, the qualitative results of the research manifest that the participants were able to design a standard business plan.
Conclusion: It is recommended to use the STHs method in entrepreneurship centers of universities and higher education institutions.
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