S1057: A framework for secondary schools agriscience education programs that emphasizes the STEM content in agriculture
(Multistate Research Project)
S1057: A framework for secondary schools agriscience education programs that emphasizes the STEM content in agriculture
Duration: 05/01/2013 to 09/30/2017
Statement of Issues and Justification
While many colleges of agriculture have experienced an increase in student enrollment over the past decade, fewer students maintain their agricultural focus through successful placement in an agriculturally-based scientific position upon graduation (Dyer, Lacey, & Osborne, 1996). The focus of this multistate research project is to revitalize an interest in agriculture as a career path and ensure that secondary school students have the requisite competencies to succeed in college and careers. The end result of this research project will be an abundant supply of well-educated workers in careers that require agricultural scientific knowledge.
Currently, a shortage of scientists for agricultural positions exists throughout the country. Employment data from CSREES Employment Opportunities for College Graduates in the U.S. Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resources System (CSREES, 2005) projected a deficit of nearly 3,000 graduates per year for 2005-2010. The subsequent report projecting career opportunities for 2010-2015 (NIFA, 2010) projected an even greater deficit. Additionally, CSREES reported that 25% of all job openings in the agricultural industry require scientific and engineering expertise. These projections have come to fruition as leading agriculture-based corporations indicate they cannot find suitable graduates with an agricultural background and scientific expertise. Industries seeking skilled workers for scientific agriculturally-based positions have been presented with application pools that contain a bi-polar skillset; approximately 40-45% of applicants have been graduates from allied higher education programs such as biological sciences, engineering, business, health sciences, communication, and applied technologies (CSREES, 2005, p. 3), while just over half of the applicants had degrees in agriculture (CSREES, 2005).
Compounding the issue of recruiting and preparing qualified graduates to enter careers in agricultural sciences is the increasing demand for workers with scientific expertise by numerous career areas. Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations are critical to the continued economic competitiveness of the United States (Carnevale, Smith & Melton, 2011). The demand for traditional STEM workers will continue to grow. But the increasing demand for STEM talent allows for and encourages the disbursement of students and workers with STEM competencies across various career paths. Some workers will voluntarily be diverted to other career areas, some may be diverted to other areas involuntarily (by not meeting expectations), and some will continue their education in a STEM field. However, those career paths cannot necessarily be predicted, so it is paramount for STEM-related programs to be on the cutting edge in terms of the skills and abilities needed to perform at some level of occupation and education.
Opportunities for educators and industry leaders to expose potential employees to the benefits of and skills used in the diverse array of agricultural careers are great, and occur across a broad timeline during an individuals life, both before and after entering into the adult workforce. In order to increase the number of students transitioning into post-secondary education and employment, many secondary schools focus on career exploration and preparation, often even mimicking colleges and universities by requiring students to choose a career pathway or major. Career and Technical Education (CTE), including agricultural education, focuses heavily on career exploration in order to help students better understand the skill, knowledge, and education expectations of specific careers (DeLuca, Plank, & Estacion, 2006). While no direct link has been established to connect successful secondary experiences in agricultural education all the way through the human capital pipeline to successful employment in STEM-based agriculture careers, studies have shown that students coursetaking during high school plays a critical role in their ability to transition to postsecondary education and pursue a range of postsecondary majors and degree options (Laird, Chen, Levesque, & Owings, 2006, p. 1). Dyer, Lacey, & Osborne (1996) found that while the percentage of University of Illinois College of Agriculture freshman students with secondary-level agricultural education was declining, the percentage of students intending to graduate with a major in in agriculture was much higher among students with secondary agricultural education experience than among those with no previous agricultural education. Dyer, Breja, and Wittler (2002) found that enrollment in a high school agricultural education program to be one of the most influential factors in whether students completed a degree in a college of agriculture. Enrollment in agriculture courses at the secondary level has also been found to be correlated with high positive perceptions of agriculture (Smith, 2010). However, greater effort is needed to increase the number of high school agricultural education students who pursue higher-level agricultural careers through postsecondary education; a recent study found that these students lacked understanding regarding the importance of postsecondary education for careers in agriculture (Smith, 2010). A growing body of literature supporting exposure to high-level careers in agriculture before college to increase the number of graduates skilled in agricultural sciences has led the National Research Council to recommend that colleges and universities&reach out to elementary-school and secondary-school students and teachers to expose students to agricultural topics and generate interest in agricultural careers (2009, p. 9), specifically suggesting partnerships with secondary agricultural education programs.
The issues of recruitment and preparation for careers in agricultural sciences overlap. Thus the goal of this project is two-fold: 1) to create awareness and interest at the middle and high school levels for careers in the agricultural sciences, and 2) to prepare students for success in college, leading to a sustainable supply of well-educated agricultural scientists.
Within agricultural education there is little research examining effective teaching practices regarding the emphasis of STEM content naturally contained within the agriculture curriculum. Therefore, it is critical that researchers explore current teaching practices implemented by exemplary agriscience instructors. This will provide baseline data that will inform a conceptual model for testing the impact of recommended teaching practices on student learning.
Although it is important for agricultural educators to be able to discuss the application of principles from all aspects of STEM, the science and math concepts in the context of agricultural education have garnered the most attention in the literature base because of their direct application to agriculture. Therefore science and math will be the primary focus of this project. Myers and Thompson (2009) conducted a study to determine what teachers needed in order to successfully emphasize STEM concepts in their classrooms. The responses of the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy participants were categorized as the following: 1) curriculum, 2) professional development, 3) teacher preparation programs, 4) philosophical shift, and 5) collaboration. Teachers in the study desired an agriculture curriculum written to be aligned with state and national standards for science and math along with a national data base of lesson plans containing explicit emphasis of STEM concepts made available to teachers. Teachers also desired continuing instruction on how to highlight science and math principles found in the agriculture program. The teachers in the study believed the pre-service teachers should be required to take coursework at their university to strengthen their knowledge of such a curriculum. The teachers also reported desiring a shift in philosophy regarding agricultural education. Teachers in the study believed transforming the view of agricultural education would help teachers of all disciplines understand the role agriculture can take in increasing student achievement. The teachers also valued collaboration, and believed team-teaching across disciplines would help to reinforce the importance of agricultural education and make the agricultural educators a valuable part of the education community (Myers & Thompson, 2009).
Guidance on how STEM education science education in particular should be designed has been provided by the recent publication of A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). In this report, it is recommended that science education be built around three major dimensions: practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Any model for secondary school agriscience programs that emphasize STEM content must take this framework and the Math Common Core (NGAC, 2010) into consideration.
Knowing the importance of preparing teachers to emphasize the science and mathematics of agriculture within a curriculum, it is important to understand what the practices entail. Crawford (2000) conducted a case-study of one high school biology teacher in the Pacific Northwest. This teacher had been noted for his outstanding use of inquiry-based learning when designing lesson plans. The aim of the research was to gain qualitative data that described what made this teachers lessons so effective. The results identified six characteristics of the teacher that allowed for successful use of inquiry-based instruction. Those six characteristics were: 1) situating the instruction in authentic problems, 2) grappling with data, 3) fostering collaboration between teachers and students, 4) connecting the students with their community through the lesson, 5) teacher modeling the behaviors of a good scientist, and 6) fostering student ownership in the project and the results.
The profession needs to develop a model of effective practices emphasizing STEM concepts to prepare a future of agricultural scientists who are highly trained. If the profession is to develop a curriculum framework and further prepare teachers of agricultural education to explicitly highlight STEM principles in agriculture, the current teaching practices that are most effective for accomplishing this goal in secondary school agricultural education need to be identified.
The Concerns-Based Adoption Model, a research-based model, was designed to help facilitate change and provide diagnostic means of measuring implementation of an innovation (Hall and Hord, 2006) and provides a framework to guide this project. The model consists of the environment, the user system culture, resource system, change facilitator team, interventions, users and nonusers, and three diagnostic measures: stages of concern, levels of use, and innovation configurations (Hall & Hord, 2006). Hall and Hord (1987) define an intervention as any action or event that influences the individuals involved or expected to be involved in the process (p. 143). Interventions can range from training workshops to short conversations about the innovation called one-legged interviews (Hall & Hord, 2006).
Advantages of a Multi-state Effort
Advantages of the multi-state effort include an effective forum for building collaboration among agricultural scientists. The effort expands the ability to investigate the feasibility of differing curricula in rural and urban centers and across economic, demographic, and commodity focuses. Collaborative approaches are likely to formulate stronger solutions when compared to a single state or single researcher effort. Collaboration in a multi-state effort will streamline and focus research in agriscience education. Past research has lacked temporal dimensions. This project will also allow for longitudinal data and replication of studies across the United States. With the exception of a few nationwide efforts, current research is conducted without a focused effort. Without a multi-state effort, this proposed research focus would be difficult to manage and would create the need for more effort on behalf of the faculty involved. The project is significant to the national agricultural education research agenda (Doerfert, 2011) that called for enhanced program delivery models and an abundance of highly qualified agricultural educators. The research agenda set forth by the USDA NIFA complements the National Research Agenda for Agricultural Education and Communication (Doerfert, 2011) by providing a priority area of creating the next generation of scientists.
Likely Impacts from Successful Completion
The successful completion of this research project will likely yield several impacts crucial to the continued success of agricultural education and the industries for which graduates are prepared to enter. Agricultural educators will have an increased awareness of the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas included in the agriscience program. This increased awareness will be accompanied by modified curricula to guide secondary agriscience teachers in the highlighting of STEM concepts and ideas through articulated competencies. By providing teachers with education and guidance in highlighting STEM competencies in agriculture, the teachers will be more effective, agriscience programs will be of higher quality, and the components leading to high quality programs will be clarified for use across the nation. Finally, as students are exposed to STEM concepts in high quality agriscience programs led by prepared, effective teachers, their interest and engagement in agriculture-related STEM careers will increase. The end result contributes to an abundant supply of an educated workforce in agricultural careers that require scientific knowledge.
Related, Current and Previous Work
A search of the NIMSS systems revealed only one active multistate research project and one advisory committee related to agricultural education. The research project, W-1006 Agricultural Literacy, focuses specifically on evaluation of Agriculture in the Classroom program and is set to terminate in 2012. Multiple members of the Agriculture Education Research advisory committee (NCAC-024) are included in the membership of this project.
The integration of science into agricultural education has been a part of educational reform since the US industrial revolution. Managers, policymakers, and communities indicated they had a need for scientific advancement that was led by agriculture (Hillison, 1996). The Hatch Act of 1887 provided a mechanism to utilize federal dollars to fund scientific research to increase production. Later, the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 brought those findings into the public school setting with the establishment of school-based agricultural education across the United States. School based agricultural education was formed from a need for vocational training for the rural males engaged in agricultural production. A hands-on curriculum created value for rural students to remain in school and receive an education while becoming established in farming. The high school agriculture instructor provided a way to move research into practice for local farmers, educating students and adult farmers on new innovations. Agricultural instructors helped the farmers understand the use of scientific discoveries as well as new farming practices with sound explanations based in the biological and physical sciences.
Due to changes in education and societal needs, the role of school-based agricultural education shifted to focus primarily on vocational training. Agricultural education lost grip of the authentic science investigations that drove its creation. From the 1950s through the late 1980s, agricultural education was well-focused on vocational training but strayed from the scientific concepts behind the hands-on skill set. During the early 1980s, a paramount publication by the National Commission on Excellence in Education titled A Nation At Risk (NCEE, 1983) laid the groundwork for the next two decades of focused science principles across all curricula. During the mid-1980s, agricultural education began to integrate science principles back into high school agricultural programs (Phipps, Osborne, Dyer, & Ball 2008).
Since the shift back to teaching the science of agriculture, research has been conducted that focuses on stakeholder perceptions of integration (Thompson, 1998). Some studies investigated scientific-focused curricula with differing teaching methods (Dyer, 1995; Flowers, 1986; Myers, 2004; Thoron, 2010). The need still remains for the development of a common definition and guiding model for integrating science. Stakeholders have identified a deteriorating workforce lacking agricultural technical skills and scientific knowledge that places our nations national security and nations economy at risk (Thoron & Myers, 2008).
Significant trends in the US educational system prompt the need for a science-based investigative curriculum in agriculture (Thoron & Myers, 2008). Agriculturists, policy-makers, and community leaders agree there are societal benefits when agriscience education extends the knowledge of agriculture to urban and rural communities. With more diverse demographic characteristics and higher levels of participation, there is a growing challenge to provide and manage authentic agriscience investigations and experiences for school-based agricultural students. Demographic changes from rural to urban have affected student interest and career choice. This has lead to an increased need for educating talented students who are well-equipped with agricultural knowledge that is based in science to meet the demands of scientific discovery in the agricultural industry.
The recent publication Transforming Agricultural Education for a Changing World (2009), sponsored by the National Research Council, called for action to meet the need of professional education in agriculture of a diverse student body for the largest food producer in the world, the United States. Woven across this need for professional undergraduate programs that are attractive to, supportive of, and challenging for the students is the foundational need for career discovery at the high school and middle school levels. The simple understanding of how agriculture affects daily lives of all Americans must be expanded to include authentic science-based, research-driven curricula. The curricula must then focus on critical thinking, argumentation skills, and scientific reasoning of students through research-supported, issues-based, authentic assessments. This must occur while supporting the career and technical structure of the local program as students continue to focus on the applied portion of becoming successful in the workplace and in their career.
School-based agricultural education holds significant potential for helping to alleviate the shortage of agricultural scientists. A majority of high school agricultural programs are located in rural areas, providing the best opportunity to attract students who have some experience in agriculture. In addition, secondary agricultural education has a significant number of programs in suburban and urban schools, providing access to a large number of students who enjoy science and could be attracted to an agriscience field. Traditionally future scientists have not been actively pursued through these programs; with a new focus, these programs can provide value to industry beyond agricultural awareness. Secondary school agriscience programs exemplify a new biology approach in that integrated sciences are connected to agricultural problems and practices through a formal classroom and laboratory instructional program (NRC, 2009). One mission of the multi-state project will be to a develop curriculum framework and programs that set high ability students on an agriscience research track.
Specifically, the multistate project will focus on the areas of deepest concern in agriculture. For example, crop sciences and areas of food production, agronomy, and bio-research companies are faced with a severe shortage of highly qualified scientists (NRC, 2009). Leaders from Monsanto and ADM as well as crop science programs at universities experience serious concern when seeking candidates who can effectively connect their knowledge to field/growing conditions and aspects unique to agricultural industry, production practices, and producers. Decades have passed as this erosion of talent has increased and inaction has led to a lack of a productive pipeline for attracting and preparing future crop science researchers. The time for action is immediate and a call for a formal preparation strategy is needed (APLU, 2009).
An implication of the trends the crop science industry is facing is alarming and requires immediate, proactive efforts to significantly increase the number of high school students who enter college with an interest in crop sciences research. The continued shortage of researchers who can effectively connect their biology and chemistry competence to field conditions will slow the pace of innovation and discovery and place our food system at risk at a basic level (APLU, 2009). This leads to the importance for this multistate project to create a proactive, comprehensive recruitment and preparation strategy that begins at the high school level. High school remains the vital time when students make their initial career and college major decisions (Helwig, 2004). Action is needed now to maintain global leadership (Vilsack, 2009).
Rampant changes in the agriculture industry require a workforce with the ability to solve problems associated with scientific content. The United States Department of Agriculture recommended that students seeking future employment in the agriculture industry have basic science skills and the ability to solve problems with scientific applications (CSREES, 2005, p. 12). Agricultural education is in an ideal position to teach scientific content through an agricultural context (Enderlin & Osborne, 1992; NRC, 2009; Thompson, 1998; Washburn & Myers, 2010).
To provide students with valuable experiences that enhance their scientific content knowledge and problem solving skills, enhanced facilities, equipment, and materials will maximize student learning and emulate industry standards. The emergence of integrating scientific principles through agricultural education may provide opportunities for facilities to become a keystone in the teaching of scientific skills and problem solving (Shoulders & Myers, 2012a).
Experiential learning in agricultural laboratories has been established as an ideal method to teach scientific content and problem solving skills to agriculture students in an effort to better prepare them for careers in the science-based agriculture industry (Enderlin & Osborne, 1992; Myers & Washburn, 2008; NRC, 2009; Thompson, 1998; Washburn & Myers, 2010, Shoulders, Blythe, & Myers, 2012). Providing students with experience in laboratory activities was the most important lesson-based attribute supported by previous research which found that teachers viewed their role during experiential learning as that of facilitator, responsible for guiding student learning experiences (Warner et al., 2006).
Facilities, equipment, and materials are important components of secondary agricultural education, and provide students with opportunities to develop problem-solving skills through experiential learning. (Shoulders & Myers, 2012a). By designing agricultural education facilities to focus on scientific problem solving, teachers can enhance student experiences to prepare them more effectively for scientifically-based careers in agriculture (Parr & Edwards, 2004). Research to determine facilities and resources necessary to enhance the educational experiences will provide opportunities for teachers to improve student achievement in scientific problem solving through experiential learning.
Several self-reporting studies have provided a baseline of understanding of the importance and use of facilities and equipment. Research will help to identify barriers to utilizing facilities, equipment and resources, and help develop strategies to maximize student learning. Availability of a wide variety of agricultural laboratories was found to be common among secondary agricultural education programs. In a national study of agricultural educators (Shoulders & Myers, 2012b), respondents reported having access to a range of agricultural laboratories. Teachers were also reported the frequency with which agricultural laboratories are utilized in secondary agricultural education. Over half of teachers with access to an aquaculture tank/pond (57.8%), biotechnology/science laboratory (63.0%), food science laboratory (50.0%), garden (61.1%), greenhouse (90.6%), livestock/equine facility (69.7%), meats laboratory (62.5%), mechanics/carpentry/welding facility (90.6%), nursery/orchard/grove (68.1%), small animal/veterinary laboratory (94.4%), or turf grass management area (54.5%) reported utilizing the laboratory at least once per week.
Identify practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas to be included in a secondary school agriscience program.
Identify teaching methods, resources (facilities, equipment, materials, etc), and techniques currently utilized by exemplary teachers.
Develop an innovation configuration for implementing an agriscience program.
MethodsThe project objectives will be addressed through the utilization of multiple research methods as illustrated in Figure 1 (see Attachment 1). While the data collection procedures for objectives one and two will occur simultaneously, the data will be analyzed independently to produce different outputs for the larger project. The finding from objectives one and two will be used to inform the development of the Innovation Configuration map for objective three. Objective 1: Part 1. Four national panels will be appointed to propose a set of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that could be included in the agriscience curriculum. The panels include the following groups: 1. Agriscience teachers who have participated in the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors Academy (N=50), selected randomly from all past program participants
2. Agricultural education teachers who have not completed the NATAA (N=50), nominated by state supervisors and selected proportionately by geographic region
3. Agriculture teacher educators (N=50), selected randomly
4. State supervisors (N=25), selected randomly
A three-round modified Delphi Techniques process will be utilized. Participants will be asked to respond to three questions:
1. What STEM practices should be included in the agriscience curriculum?
2. What cross-cutting concepts should be included in the agriscience curriculum?
3. What disciplinary core ideas should be included in the agriscience curriculum?
A modified Delphi Technique approach allows for the involvement of a greater number of panelists since the input and discussion are handled electronically rather than in a face-to-face meeting, implying that these panels will not be required to meet in person. A random selection of teacher educators and state supervisors is proposed so that what could be is identified in addition to what is. For the first round, participants will be given a brief definition of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Participants will submit a list of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that they believe should be included in the agriscience curriculum. The lists that are generated will be condensed by the researchers to eliminate duplication and to provide clarification. For the second round, participants will be given the lists of proposed practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas and will be asked to indicate their level of agreement regarding whether each practice, cross-cutting concept, and disciplinary core idea should be included in the agriscience curriculum. Participants will also be invited to edit any practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that need clarification and offer additional items if warranted. Practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that reach a pre-set level of agreement will be retained for further review. The researchers will again provide clarification of edited items. For the third round, participants will be given the list of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that were derived from round two and asked to indicate their level of agreement regarding whether each competency should be included in the agriscience curriculum. Practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that reach a pre-set level of agreement will be included in a proposed list of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas to be included in the agriscience curriculum. Faculty from the University of Florida, the University of Arkansas, and Virginia Tech will provide leadership for this part of the project. Faculty from these institutions have been involved in the project planning committee, have innovative programs related to this effort, and have indicated an interest in this phase of the work. Part 2. A national panel of 10 purposively selected experts from among teachers, teacher educators, state supervisors, and business and industry representatives will be convened at a central site to participate in the second phase of the study. The Delphi methodology will be utilized. Panelists will engage in dialogue regarding the lists of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that were generated during Part 1. In a two- to three-day period, panelists will discuss, refine, and agree upon the final set of items that are proposed to be included in the agriscience curriculum. Specific locations will be dependent on future funding opportunities for this component of the project. A timeline according requirements of funding sources will be established, and efforts will be made to hold the panel in tandem with natural gathering events and locations, such as the NAAE Conference or National FFA Convention, if at all possible. If hosting the panel during a relevant simultaneous event is not feasible, funding will be utilized to bring all panel members together to a university campus in a central location based on where the national panel members are located. In the absence of funding, the panel will be hosted electronically through Blackboard Collaborate, a virtual meeting room in which panel members can communicate, utilize a whiteboard, and share documents. Faculty from the University of Florida, the University of Arkansas, and Virginia Tech will provide leadership for this part of the project. Faculty from these institutions have been involved in the project planning committee, have innovative programs related to this effort, and have indicated an interest in this phase of the work. Part 3. A panel of 20 experts representing science teachers, math teachers, science and math teacher educators, and science and math state education agency consultants will be selected from nominations by the national science and math teacher organizations, universities, and state education agencies. Participants will verify that the science and math practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas established in Part 2 are consistent with the national standards for science and math practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. The panel will meet at a central location to conduct the verification of items task. Panel location selection will occur in a similar fashion to that in Part 2. Naturally occurring events to serve as gathering places for consideration will be the National Math and Science Partnership Conference and the National School Science and Mathematics Association Convention. Faculty from the University of Florida, the University of Arkansas, and Virginia Tech will provide leadership for this part of the project. Faculty from these institutions have been involved in the project planning committee, have innovative programs related to this effort, and have indicated an interest in this phase of the work. Part 4. A study will be conducted of agricultural education instructors nationally. A random sample of 600 instructors will be asked to participate in the study. Participants will be instructed to indicate the importance of, their knowledge of, and their ability to teach each of the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that were established in Part 2 and verified in Part 3 of the project. Using the Borich Model for conducting a needs assessment, the items will be rated by the instructors to determine the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that teachers indicate a need for in-service education, such as workshops, webinars and e-materials. . The Dillman Total Design Method will be utilized to help ensure an acceptable response rate, typically after six contacts. Non-response follow-up will be conducted to reduce error attributed to non-response. Faculty from the University of Florida, the University of Arkansas, and Virginia Tech will provide leadership for this part of the project. Faculty from these institutions have been involved in the project planning committee, have innovative programs related to this effort, and have indicated an interest in this phase of the work. Part 5. The final part of this effort will include local school educators (e.g. principals, CTE directors, other administrators) in schools where agricultural education programs exist. A random sample of 100 participants will be selected. Participants will complete a survey instrument regarding their opinion of the extent to which the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas are and should be part of a total agriscience education instructional program. Faculty from the University of Florida, the University of Illinois, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Nebraska will provide leadership for this part of the project. Faculty from these institutions have been involved in the project planning committee, have innovative programs related to this effort, and have indicated an interest in this phase of the work. Objective 2: Part 1. Exemplary secondary agriscience educators within the United States will be identified and selected to participate in survey research. The teachers to be identified for the frame of the study are those who have been known to participate in STEM development in three different categories. The first category includes participation in professional development including the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy. The second category of secondary agricultural educators identified as exemplary by their peers through winning National FFA Agriscience Teacher of the Year Award. The third category is those teachers who train exemplary students and have been identified with students who have been past National Agriscience Fair Winners and National Agriscience Proficiency Winners. A five-year census of teachers in the established categories will be polled. Once frame error has been controlled for, the number could decrease. The survey instrument will include areas of instructor Science Teaching Efficacy; perceptions of the effects of STEM integration on teaching practices; perceptions of the effect of STEM integration on student recruitment and retention; perceptions of STEM integration on peer culture; current teaching practices; and demographics. Participants from the following states will be included in the completion of this component: AR, FL, IL, KY, VA Part 2. From the broader population (N = 12) participants will be chosen for maximum variation within the STEM fields. Researchers will then examine participant teaching methods within the selected secondary classroom settings as participant observers. This will allow the research to gain an in-depth analysis of current methods of STEM content integration as exhibited by the selected population. Data collection will include researcher observation journal; semi-structured interview protocol for teachers, students, other teachers, administrators, and academic counselors; photo documentation of educational facilities; and video-taped instructional techniques of each participant. Photo-documentation will also allow for alignment with objective 3 and identification of facilities. A constant comparative method (Corbin & Strauss, 2008) will be used to code the interview and observations. Participants from the following states will be included in the completion of this component: AR, FL, IL, KY, NC, NE, OK, OR, TX, VA, WI Objective 3: The Concerns-Based Adoption Model presented by Hall and Hord (2006) contains three diagnostic instruments to measure implementation of an innovation. Each instrument addresses a different aspect of the change process. Innovation Configurations (IC) clarify what full implementation should look like. Levels of Use (LoU) chart individuals behaviors in regard to the change. Stages of Concerns (SoC) measure peoples feelings and perceptions of change. These three diagnostic instruments can be used separately or in combination with others to assess the status and success of implementation of an innovation (Hall & Hord, 2006). Innovation Configurations (IC) describe what the change should look like when it is properly implemented (Hall & Hord, 2006). An Innovation Configuration map will be created, based upon the findings of Objective 1 and 2, to develop a common understanding of what is expected and to measure how an innovation has been implemented. Hall and Hord (2006) note, the innovation in action can take on many different operational forms or configuration; in addition, the tendency to adapt, modify, and/or mutate aspects of innovations is a natural part of the change process (p. 113). The development of Innovation Configuration maps is a very time consuming and laborious process. It will require the development and articulation of a clear description of the appearance of the desired implementation as well as various differing configurations which may occur. Developers will decide what the most desirable implementation is and how much fidelity to that conception is required for implementation to be satisfactory. Throughout the process all parties will be able to view and contribute to the Innovation Configuration map. However, an Innovation Configuration map requires all parties to decide on a consensus and operationally define an innovation. Once the Innovation Configuration map is completed, it will provide a valuable tool in identifying what components are being implemented well and which components need additional work. The Innovation Configuration map makes implementation more effective and efficient. It also documents the extent and quality of implementation for evaluation studies. Participants from the following states will be included in the completion of this component: AR, FL, IL, KY, NC, NE, OR, OK, TX, VA, WI
Measurement of Progress and Results
- Validated practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas (Obj. 1 & 2)
- Public web site that includes related materials and results (Obj. 1, 2, & 3)
- Publication of Modified Delphi and Delphi results (Obj. 1)
- Series of reports reflecting recommended practices resulting from projects efforts (Obj. 1, 2, & 3)
- Workshops, webinars, e-learning materials and other delivery methods to disseminate findings to teachers and teacher educators (Obj. 1 & 2)
Output 6: List of teaching methods, resources, and techniques currently utilized by exemplary teachers (Obj. 2)
Output 7: Publication of innovation configuration for implementing an agriscience program (Obj. 3)
Outcomes or Projected Impacts
- Increased awareness of the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas included in the agriscience program (Obj. 1). This project will develop a consensus list of the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas to be included in agriscience programs in the United States. This list will serve as the foundation of future curricular projects within this plan and beyond.
- Modified secondary school curricula that include agriscience competencies (Obj. 1). The list of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas will be formatted as a suggested secondary school curricula guide for use by state departments of education, local school officials, and curriculum resource providers. The list can also guide instruction in curriculum development in teacher preparation programs.
- Increased teacher effectiveness and higher quality agriscience programs (Obj. 2). Exemplars of teacher effectiveness and agriscience program effectiveness will be used to create a list of best practices that can be used to guide teacher professional development in this area. The application of these principles will hopefully lead to similar successful results in new locations. Further research projects are planned to assess the success of the implementation of these best practices.
- Clarification within the agricultural education profession of what constitutes high quality agriscience programs (Obj. 3). The creation of an Innovation Configuration (IC) will serve as a guide for the profession. The IC will be presented to state departments of education for consideration and hopeful adoption as a model for agriscience program development. Further, the IC will contain means to evaluate the success of implementing the recommended agriscience program model.
- Long term Increased student engagement in STEM careers (Obj. 3). Although beyond the scope of the current project timeline, it is anticipated that implantation of the outputs of this project will lead to increased enrollment in STEM related majors and academic programs in post-secondary institutions as well as an increase in the number of individuals interested in STEM related careers. Future research projects will be needed to assess this impact on student enrollment and career numbers.
Milestones(2013): Appointment of four national panels to participate in the modified Delphi study of potential practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas (Obj. 1).
Identification of exemplary secondary school agriscience teachers (Obj. 2).
Distribution of survey to identified secondary school agriscience teachers (Obj. 2).
(2014): National panel of experts appointed and convened to prepare final list of practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas; Verification of math and science competencies by content experts (Obj. 1).
Analyze survey data and identify teachers for observation; Make classroom visits and observations (Obj. 2).
(2015): Continue classroom visits and observations (Obj. 2).
Needs assessment instrument administered to agriscience teachers (Obj. 1).
Workshops conducted to disseminate proposed practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas (Obj. 1).
" Analyze data and identify teaching methods, resources, and techniques utilized by exemplary teachers (Obj. 2).
" National study of local school educators regarding the extent to which the competencies are and should be part of the agriscience curriculum model (Obj. 1).
(2016): Additional workshops conducted to disseminate proposed practices, cross-cutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas (Obj. 1 & 2).
Draft innovation configuration for implementing agriscience programs (Obj. 3).
(2017): Release innovation configuration for adoption by state agriscience programs (Obj. 3
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
The projects results will be disseminated to interested stakeholders through the projects website, presentations at research conferences (i.e. American Association of Agricultural Education), publications in research journals (i.e. Journal of Agricultural Education) and practitioner journals (i.e. The Agricultural Education Magazine), the development of technical reports, and the delivery of workshops for both researchers and practitioners. Relationships with state departments of education, teacher professional organization (state & national) and preservice teacher preparation programs will be sought in the construction and dissemination of project outputs. Professional development opportunities will be designed and delivered at appropriate locations and times as determined in consultation with partner organizations (state departments of education, preservice teacher preparation institutions, & teacher professional organizations). These partner organizations will be key in guiding the development of the outreach to ensure that the methods used (online, workshops, etc.) are design to best meet the needs of those who can utilize the information and products. Members of the project team have strong current relationships with these organizations and those relationships will be utilized and strengthen to share the findings and outputs of this project with practitioners (classroom teachers, teacher educators, and state education staff) as well as with researchers in the agriscience education profession.
An executive committee consisting of a chair, vice-chair, and three (3) other project members will be established to maintain the direction of this project. The executive committee will meet quarterly (either face-to-face or via conference call) to assess progress. Further, an annual meeting of all participants will be held.
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