Understanding Research Through Experiencing Research
Sam Houston State University
Research Methods is a required class for all SHSU Agricultural Science M.S. students, but a significant knowledge gap on the how and why of research exists, particularly for non-thesis students. Due to this gap, a change was made in the pedagogy of this course beginning with the addition of two projects. The first was a class project where the class designed a research study from concept to implementation. Each week, students brought ideas for the next phase of the project, discussed them, and made decisions on the direction of the project. This promoted student buy-in to the project and provided an opportunity to be engaged. These phases included the research question, research design, data collection and interpretation, with charts and graphs, abstract development and presentation of a poster. Student input on each section helped understanding of the basics of research design as well as the difficulties faced in interpretation of research. Additionally, students worked on individual projects where students had to answer any question of interest. These ranged from topics like 'What would you do for a Klondike bar?" to a comparison of driving ability between the sexes. The ability to choose one's project from any area of interest allowed students to have buy in to the project itself. The individual project involved data collection from either student data or any other previously generated data. Each phase of the individual project was due a week after the class project, enabling students a second opportunity to understand each phase of the process. Finally, the individual project would conclude with a 12-minute professional conference-style presentation. By utilizing both of these projects in class, alongside traditional methods of lecture and reading of journal articles, we were able to provide a well-rounded, hands-on opportunity to all students regardless of previous experience.
Impacts of a Professional Development Program Designed to Help Faculty in Technical Subjects Integrate Leadership Concepts in Their Courses
University of Florida
Agricultural and natural resource organizations are particularly susceptible to negative impacts from weather-related disasters including, drought, fires, flooding, freezes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Climate change is causing these severe weather events to occur in increasing frequency. Colleges of agriculture and related sciences are tasked with preparing students to enter the workforce in these organizations and research has verified the importance of these students having leadership skills. Consequently, tomorrow's graduates need to be prepared to deal with weather-related disasters and demonstrate leadership skills. This abstract highlights a professional development program funded through a USDA/NIFA Higher Education Challenge Grant which include an online academy focused on helping agricultural faculty learn about leadership, change management, and team building skills. The project provided a field experience to visit organizations impacted by weather-related disasters to provide contextual examples with real people impacted by hurricanes. Faculty then created case studies to share their experiences with their students. The purpose of this study was to understand the impacts on faculty because of these transformational learning experiences. A qualitative and exploratory approach was used to investigate, if and how, hearing first-person accounts of the impacts of hurricanes impacted the attitudes of faculty participants about their professional development field experiences and their intentions to teach leadership content to their students. Results revealed that these experiences impacted faculty participants' perspectives on disasters, their confidence in teaching leadership, and their general teaching confidence. Based on the results of this study, we recommend that future faculty development experiences look for ways to provide transformational learning experiences which integrate technical and social sciences. We also recommend that facilitators of similar professional development programs build in opportunities for critical reflection to allow participants to fully process the experience.
Preparing Pre-service Educators to Overcome Personal and Professional Barriers: a Case Study in Elementary Agricultural Education
University of Georgia
Although barriers facing agricultural educators have been well-studied at the middle and high school-levels, they are equally important for elementary teachers and elementary agricultural education is quite new nationally. The purpose of this study was to better understand how elementary agricultural education (EAE) teachers in [State] overcome personal and professional barriers. Agricultural education at the elementary-level provides students with experiential learning opportunities to provide foundational knowledge of the link between plants, animals, and society. The population was chosen from 26 pioneering EAE schools in [State]. Purposive sampling was used and four EAE teachers engaged in in-depth interviews. Once data saturation occurred, qualitative content analysis detected emergent themes across the dataset. Personal and professional barriers included lack of financial support, a shorter class time schedule at the elementary-level, and student behavioral issues which prevented safe, hands-on learning activities for younger learners that would normally occur for older students. Participants overcame these barriers by collaborating and communicating with other teachers using various teaching strategies and seeking support from the community and administrators. However, participants indicated a need for training in agricultural mechanics as repairing and maintaining teaching equipment was a reoccurring issue. Pre-service teacher education programs at the college-level that focus in EAE should continue to include teaching strategies classes focusing on experiential learning and effective classroom management, but reinforce positive behavioral intervention and support for younger learners. While elementary students will not be engaging with agricultural mechanics like more mature students, pre-service EAE teachers should still be trained in this area.
Teaching Food Product Development - Faculty vs. Industry Perspective
North Carolina State University
It has been suggested by two recent surveys (McGraw-Hill and Forbes) and several news articles that there is a clear gap between the expectations of the food industry employers and other food industry stakeholders related to new food science graduates' food product development (FPD) skills and the real performance of these graduates when tasked with managing and leading FPD projects. Some possible reasons for this might include the fact that many food science programs do not have FPD as an independent course or the lack of a generally accepted curriculum. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the opinions and suggestions of faculty of higher education institutions and industry professionals related to the training of food science students in FPD, including how FPD should be taught and what should be crucially included in the FPD curriculum. Forty-four faculty and 59 industry professionals completed the survey between November 2020 and July 2021. Several inconsistencies were found on how the FPD course is taught, including which courses are prerequisites for FPD, a laboratory session as a co-requisite (85%), the use of industrial ingredients when developing their food product (73%), and the lecture delivery methods (67% face-to-face). Several industry professionals (53%) believed that there is a significant disconnect between academia and industry in preparing students for FPD careers. Industry professionals who completed the survey clearly believe that the most important skills graduates should have are in food processing, sensory science, ingredient technology and food safety. However, the majority of industry professionals (51%) responded that most graduates are not prepared to lead FPD projects or can recognize the challenges and demands when executing FPD from start to finish. Therefore, an updated and improved FPD curriculum will be created to prepare graduates to meet the challenges of their careers in the food industry.
Personifying a Graduate: Bridging the Gap Between Foundational Concepts and the Modern Professional Through an Innovative Curriculum Review Process
University of Florida
The Family, Youth and Community Sciences Department at the University of Florida facilitated an extensive curriculum review of the undergraduate program. The review process included three phases of data collection and multiple faculty retreats and working groups. The process started with faculty focus groups identifying the theoretical underpinnings, emerging issues, and skills and dispositions necessary for professionals in their respective fields. The results of these focus groups served as the foundation for the development of competency statements defining a FYCS graduate according to four basic areas of skills and expertise: 1) conceptual knowledge, 2) communication skills, 3) professional skills, and 4) technical skills. From these competency statements, faculty working groups created program SLOs establishing the new curriculum. Existing courses within the department that introduce, reinforce, or assess students' ability to achieve each program level SLO were identified. The resulting set of courses formed the requirements for the degree program and were organized according to their purpose in the curriculum. From a content perspective, the core curriculum addresses the same theoretical underpinnings and allows students to focus their coursework in specific areas within the scope of departmental expertise at a deeper level than was possible with the previous curriculum. The new curriculum also emphasizes the development of professional skills required to be successful in the fields of family, youth and community sciences. The major culminates with a significant practical experience that combines application with intellectual exploration. The process employed for this review provides academic units an opportunity to rethink curriculum requirements in terms of the historical foundations of the field alongside what is required to prepare students to address emerging issues with skills future employers have identified as essential.
Cowboy Culture in the University Core Curriculum
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Cowboys & Cowgirls is a university core signature course available to all students in the first year track. A signature course is required of all first year TAMUC students. Such courses are designed to help students develop and demonstrate competence in written, oral, and visual communications as part of the university core curriculum. Courses are designed around themes selected by the professor. Cowboys & Cowgirls is the creation of the author of this presentation and introduces students from a variety of majors, backgrounds, and perspectives to the lives and legends of one of America's most recognized icons. Beginning with the origin of the vaquero students follow the trail through the cattle drive era, ranching. cowboy poetry, music, art, and literature to rodeo and movies. Lectures, discussions, and guest speakers are included in class activities for Mondays and Wednesdays. Fridays are 'flipped" so that instead of students coming to class, they utilize that class time to view videos and other online resources aligned with each weekly module. The objective of this presentation is to share innovative teaching strategies, topics, and activities used for this class. Course organization, specific topics, and activities as well as how the course promotes agricultural and food literacy will be included
Marauder Agricultural Scholarship Program: Agricultural Industry Career Awareness
Central State University
Research has shown that the US workforce is deficient in the agricultural industry for many reasons, including negative perceptions about agricultural jobs. Consequently, millions of positions are being unfilled, adversely impacting production capacities and the ability to compete internationally. This situation is alarming as the demand for agricultural products is expected to increase and the vulnerability of the supply chain systems have been exposed during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, existing initiatives to enhance the agricultural workforce have targeted students majoring in agricultural fields, excluding current students studying in other areas. This project has sought to address the deficiency of the US agricultural workforce by conducting research related to the workforce in the US agricultural sector and attempt to provide narratives apt to increase the awareness of students and families on the nobleness of agriculture. This has been accomplished thus far by having students participate in a brief project in researching careers in agricultural sectors in their business or education courses. Additionally, students who are not majoring in agriculture, had the opportunity to apply for a scholarship program that required them to enroll in two agriculture courses on the campus. Trends that have been captured by the research team includes drivers of interest for careers in agriculture, student interest in agriculture in general, and careers of interest to students who are not majoring in agriculture. Each of these trends can provide insight into how to recruit students to pursue careers in the agriculture industry.
Balancing Act: Investigating Quality Instructional Design Needs for Hybrid Agricultural Courses
New Mexico State University
The COVID-19 pandemic swiftly disrupted the educational system and teaching expectations. Today's course delivery requires teachers to be ready to convert courses to hybrid formats without much guidance on maintaining quality engagement and interactions in both online and face-to-face scenarios. As a result, investigating student perceptions of quality instruction can help shape inform instructional needs for faculty in colleges of agriculture, food, and natural resources. The purpose of this study was to investigate students' perceptions of their online or hybrid experiences based on the quality course teaching and instructional practice (QCTIP) scorecard. We surveyed participants' (N = 135) in an oral communication and leadership course (n = 72) at [University] and an agricultural business communication course (n = 63) at [University] in Spring 2021. Each course was purposively selected for the broad range of majors in the colleges of agriculture. Using QCTIP, students rated their hybrid instructional experiences using a 3-point Likert scale (1-emerging; 2-accomplished; 3-exemplary). Students rated their overall hybrid instructional experience as accomplished (M = 2.08). Using the QCTIP scorecard, students rated key areas of a quality instructional experiences, including course design (M = 2.05); accessibility, ADA compliance, and universal design (M = 2.17); course learning outcomes (M = 2.11); course content (M = 2.01); assignments (M = 2.04); instructor role (M = 2.13); class discussion and engagement (M = 2.06); building community (M = 2.09); communication (M = 2.12); and continuous course improvement (M = 2.01). While 'accomplished" likely still represents a positive hybrid experience for students, faculty should investigate strategies to move each QCTIP section into the exemplary range. Maintaining engaging and accessible hybrid courses requires faculty to be proficient in both in-person and online delivery formats, which warrants a need for investigating teaching resources and guidelines to support faculty when delivering quality, robust programs.
Enhancing Culturally Relevant Mentorship for Under-represented Minorities in Colleges of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences
Ohio State University
Increasing the presence of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in agricultural and life sciences disciplines has been a sought-after goal at land-grant institutions. However, Latinx, LGBTQ+, and women (as we define URMs) continue to find themselves in a system that lacks the structural changes needed to create the space for and support their success. URMs in doctoral programs are particularly in need of mentorship as they continue to navigate the culture of academia during their transition into faculty positions. The primary mentoring role falls on the faculty mentor who is often underprepared to work with URMs. We sought to address the need for improved mentorship of URMs studying in the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences at a Midwestern University through the creation of an 8-session program. The goal of the program was to enhance the capacity of faculty (mentors) to mentor URMs and for URM doctoral students (mentees) to be better prepared to navigate academia. Specifically, overall program aims were to: (1) deliver programming for faculty mentors to engage in culturally responsive mentoring; (2) deliver programming for mentees to develop skills needed to be successful in academia and as future mentors; and (3) deliver co-curricular programming for both faculty mentors and URM mentees to facilitate productive and supportive dialogue about race, gender and sexual orientation; the experiences of URM students at PWIs; the development of the mentor/mentee relationship; and how to navigate academia. Several participants mentioned that by creating faculty mentor/mentee pairs, it facilitated co-learning of the topics 'without having to worry about power dynamics that often exist in those relationships." Similarly, most participants appreciated the candid conversations about academia and challenges in URM mentorship. Good mentoring is an essential component of the recruitment and retention of URM individuals and can help them successfully navigate higher education.
Workshop Trains Educators to use Soils Concepts in High School Classes
University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Department of Agronomy & Horticulture
A workshop program was developed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) intended to provide applied and pedagogically sound soil health training to teachers as a cross-cutting science - integrating biology, geology, chemistry, and physics. The potential outcomes of such training include increased societal value of soil as a finite resource, and increased student interest to pursue agricultural and environmental careers. The goals of the 2-week workshop were to 1) provide foundational knowledge of soil's global services to Nebraska high school teachers and 2) guide Nebraska high school teachers to create soil lesson plans that address some of the required Science Standards. The curriculum of the program has focused on understanding soil as a system while also teaching specific examples of soil physical, chemical, and biological properties. The program was successfully deployed in both 2020 and 2021 as a fully online workshop utilizing independent reading and activities as well as daily video conference discussions hosted by UNL faculty. A total of 20 science and agriculture high school teachers from across Nebraska participated in the program. In addition to the training, participants received classroom supplies to conduct experiments. Each participant developed a new peer-reviewed lesson plan using soil science concepts to elevate learning in their course curriculum. The lesson plans have been made publicly available through UNL servers. This presentation will share successes and tips from the process of developing this workshop. The response to the workshop has been very positive with 100% of respondents (n=16) reporting that they have a better sense of how soil science can be incorporated into their teaching and how soil science could be used to address cross cutting concepts.
Examining Belongingness, Uniqueness, and Inclusivity Within a Land-Grant University and Extension System
University of Florida
An organization's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) communicates to its employees that supportive and caring relationships are valued in the workplace. Diversity management research continues to develop and is needed as reports of discrimination exist with increasing DEI initiatives. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the perceptions of employees' belongingness, uniqueness, and inclusivity within the [University/ Institute] Extension system. In this study, belongingness refers to feelings of acceptance, uniqueness refers to individual differences yet still being accepted, and inclusivity refers to employees' satisfaction regarding belongingness and uniqueness. A survey instrument was used for data collection from February to April 2021 that consisted of Likert-scale and open-ended questions. Respondents were [Institute] employees, faculty, students, and Extension professionals (n = 430). Results suggest Extension professionals perceive less inclusivity, compared to the main campus employees and students. Furthermore, differences were found between ethnicity and perceptions of belongingness, and uniqueness. Specifically, Asian Extension professionals expressed significantly lower levels of belongingness (M = 2.8, SD = 5.5) and uniqueness (M = 3.4, SD = 6.5) compared to other ethnicities. Hispanic students reported lower levels of belongingness (M = 2.9, SD = 6.3) and uniqueness (M = 3.4, SD = 6.5) compared to White students. The qualitative data converged with quantitative data by providing an in-depth understanding of respondents' perceptions of organizational DEI. Additionally, respondents noted that improvements need to be made for diversity and inclusivity initiatives, resources, and training. Recommendations include the [University/Institute] continuing DEI initiatives while tailoring efforts to focus on Extension professionals and Hispanic students. Future studies should explore inclusivity beyond characteristics of ethnicity to also account for gender, sexual orientation, and income.
An Assessment of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Internship Program
Virginia Polytechnic and State University
In 2019, the Virginia Cooperative Extension conducted an assessment of the internship program to gain insight from the perspectives of participants and supervisors in order to identify ways to improve the internship program. Data was collected through a survey of interns, and focus groups with internship supervisors. The survey of interns determined why they participated in the program, needed resources , and information about internship projects. The interns generally chose internships based on proximity to home and specific subject areas. The interns expressed a need for more communication in regards to the interview process. An identified concern by the interns was the long period of time required to learn about hiring decisions. All interns reported that they planned and delivered an educational program as part of their internship experience. Program leadership was effective in supporting the internship by providing resources that helped guide the internship experience. Identified strengths of the internship program were university affiliation, the perceived value of the student experience, state funding support, and community acknowledgement. Identified weaknesses were scheduling interview times, students obtaining university credentials, and recruitment of interns. Opportunities were found such as providing overtime so students could experience time-intensive experiences such as 4-H camp, having orientation , reducing burden on localities by providing state-level travel funding, providing additional resources to support the intern and supervisor, and increasing program advertising. Program threats were found to be unsuitable applicants, lack of professionalism in interns loss of state funding support. Recommendations include having a state-wide orientation, keeping cost share funds with the addition of travel funding, creating additional intern and supervisor resources, and broadening advertising and recruitment.
Leading a Faculty Learning Community to Teach Teamwork Skills to Prepare Undergraduate Students to be Ready for Work
The objective of the Faculty Learning Community (FLC) was to introduce the members to the concept of scholarly teaching while identifying an instructional method to improve student learning outcomes in the individual courses they teach. Faculty tend to struggle with individual assessment and accountability of students engaged in group/teamwork. Students tend to struggle with similar issues when managing how to work collaboratively with their peers. We explored research-based practices and strategies to help both faculty and students become more successful through the delivery and participation in teamwork, an important 21st century employability skill. The FLC targeted inclusion of a variety of teaching faculty in the College of Agriculture Forestry and Life Sciences at Clemson University, attracting six participants to engage in monthly FLC meetings during the 2021-2022 academic year. We consulted with a STEM education research expert specializing in faculty professional development, and together developed a strategy for qualitative data collection including constructing the participant reflection protocol and plan for using journaling and group discussion at each meeting. Our findings revealed participants felt more confident to identify assignments that met the criteria for group/teamwork. However, some also indicated they needed more help learning best practices for assessing group/teamwork assignments, while others indicated they felt they gained more tangible examples to utilize from hearing other FLC participants' strategies. Participants also more clearly stated connections between group/teamwork and career readiness. One participant stated, 'I also like the idea of making a simple change such as 'Team Project" vs 'Group Project". Language is powerful and Team conveys a more collaborative environment." We recommend providing instructors with research-based tools such as peer assessment instruments, team charter documents, and other resources. We found using resources helped build instructors' self-efficacy to develop assignments that are appropriate when using cooperative learning as the method of instruction.
Influencing the Next Agriculturalists: Impacts of Study Abroad Experiences in Ag Ed Classrooms
North Carolina State University
Educators seek to prepare workers with critical skills that allow them to work in multicultural environments and within a global agricultural system. The purpose of this study was to examine the connection between agricultural educators who participated in undergraduate study abroad experience and their motivations to include their study abroad experiences in their teaching instruction. The research questions were: How did your participation in the study abroad experience impact your incorporation of global and international concepts into the curriculum? How did your participation in the study abroad experience impact your interactions with students from various cultures? A narrative qualitative approach was used with participants being selected based on their participation in a study abroad experience in high school or college and who are now agricultural educators. Data were collected using a semi-structured interview protocol until data saturation was reached. Interviews lasted approximately an hour with eighteen open-ended questions guiding the interview. Following the transcription of interviews, member checking was utilized to ensure that the interviews were accurately captured. Rural, urban, and suburban middle and high school agriculture programs were represented with agriculture teachers who had more than two years of teaching experience. Study abroad experiences included Costa Rica, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, England, Spain, Chile, Czech Republic, Prague, Paris, and Finland. Six themes emerged from this study including the power of storytelling, broadened perspectives, the influence of people, 21st-century skills, reflection and application, and the universal language of food and agriculture.
Diffusion of the SBAE Model in Liberia: A Model for Agricultural Education
Oregon State University
Education in rural areas is considered a fundamental catalyst of increased growth and agricultural productivity, particularly regarding the adoption of new methods and technology. In Liberia, 48% of the population lives in rural settlements and approximately 80% of the population earns their livelihood from agriculture. Using Rogers' diffusion of innovations theory, the goal of this evaluative study was to determine the likelihood that agricultural teacher training participants would implement the school-based agricultural education (SBAE) model at their school. We sought to measure the likelihood of SBAE implementation by participants and identify factors that predict the likelihood of participants to implement SBAE in their schools. A modified four-part SBAE model (classroom agriculture instruction, home-centered entrepreneurial projects, school gardens, and leadership development through 4-H) was presented to 158 teachers at a six-day training in four Liberian counties in 2020. This first study is part of a larger study that explores the long-term economic outcomes of SBAE implementation. We found participants intended to use the information (M = 4.79, SD = .506) with 80.4% (n = 127) responding that they definitely will use the SBAE model information from the training. Likewise, none of the variables (prior workshop attendance (p = .059), years of teaching (p = .555), and level of schooling (p = .086)) were found to be statistically significant. Our findings indicate teachers intend to use the information presented in the training through SBAE model implementation at their schools. However, our data did not provide overwhelming evidence for any factors that predict the likelihood of SBAE implementation. Further exploration into how participants implement the SBAE model and the factors that influence implementation is warranted.
Impact of Study Abroad: A Case Study
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College
Study abroad programs provide an opportunity for students to experience the world as their classroom. Evidence shows that increased access of students to study abroad has several benefits, including improved retention, a higher degree of educational attainment, increased foreign language skills, enhanced global perspectives, and the adoption of new areas of interest and career objectives. This research study investigates the impact of study abroad on participants' learning experiences, retention, educational achievement, attitudes, and behavior toward diversity. We focus on the experiences of a group of undergraduate students from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC), a four-year college located in South Georgia. This qualitative study uses primary data collected using focus groups and a survey of 112 students who participated in study abroad programs from 2014 to 2019. This study fills a gap in the literature by focusing on the impact of study abroad programs in small rural colleges. Preliminary results show that studying abroad led to improved academic performance and helped develop leadership skills. Furthermore, 60% of participants indicated that studying abroad increased their desire to finish their degree. All participants reported an inspiration to learn another language, an increased level of comfort with people different from them, and an increased ability to interact effectively with people from different backgrounds. In conclusion, this study suggests that study abroad programs provide rewarding experiences for participants and should be encouraged for every college student.
Developing Pedagogical Design Capacity in Global Agriculture: Assessing Perceptions of Global Issues in Pre-Service Educators in the GOALS Program
The Pennsylvania State University
Global learning in applied STEM contexts like agriculture can be guided by the philosophy of sustainable development utilizing a framework such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). Educators who participate in professional development to improve their instructional design capacity are often provided frameworks like state and national standards. The UNSDGs offer assistance in guiding instruction related to sustainable development across broad contexts. Gaps exist in the literature on the assessment of educator awareness, importance, and implementation of the UNSDGs in classrooms along the agricultural education continuum. The understanding of educator perceptions along the continuum is beneficial in establishing effective communities of practice, authentic professional development opportunities, and improved instructional efficacy. A descriptive study of a bound population of pre-service educators (n=99) reported sentiments on professional development opportunities related to the use of global issues in agricultural education. A deeper exploration of a subset of the pre-service educator group (n=16) opted into professional development on global concepts and best practices for teaching success where they reported awareness, importance, and implementation of global issues through their teacher preparation programs. Of the 17 UNSDGs, goal (4) Quality Education showed the highest awareness and implementation. A significant discrepancy in awareness came forth between goal (4) and goal (10) Reduced Inequalities, and discrepancies in implementation were present between (4) and both (9) Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, as well as (11) Sustainable Cities. These results will help inform current teacher education programs on which areas of content knowledge to address and future professional development efforts with more attention to areas that pre-service educators have identified a need for support. Further research is needed beyond awareness exploring educators' nuanced comprehension of these global issues and contributions to efficacy from pedagogical experience.
Creating Virtual Space for Global Dialogue in Agriculture: GLAG22
The Pennsylvania State University
Designing opportunity for effective professional learning has been forever altered by the impact of the global pandemic on the factors of adoption of instructional technology as well as the digital fluency of educators. Since 2016, the <organization< has curated an online professional development intervention around global food systems transformation for educators of all contexts. With experience, <Organization< refined the mission to develop a space for interdisciplinary, multi-sector interaction of all educators for all contexts around global food systems transformation. The stated goal is not to be a 'US conference talking about global issues", but rather a global community focused on advancing shared solutions to wicked problems facing the planet. The <organization< pivoted post-pandemic from a one-week event with 40+ hours of engagement opportunity to a 10-month community with new information metered weekly. The six platforms utilized for this collaborative effort of 32 partners and patrons including wide-ranging types of academic institutions, non-government organizations and the private sector included: Constant Contact, Keyhole, Twitter Whova, Wordpress, and Zoom. A community of practice was cultivated to deliver a space for community interaction, resource sharing, and engagement of professional learning between over 1000 educators from all 50 U.S. states and more than 40 countries. Best practices for engagement, communication and community development will be shared and explored for others seeking to bring together diverse populations for shared learning. Key lessons include the importance of staying with the zone of proximal development for adult learners, ensuring they have a sense of efficacy in being successful with not 'missing out" on the professional learning by providing plentiful flexible engagement opportunities that can be consumed on the learner's schedule, not the conference organizers schedule. Environments with health risk concerns and limited resources demand creative innovative solutions to allow for critical professional dialogue to continue.
WFPFGlobalGuides: Interdisciplinary Professional Learning
Mississippi State University
Private and public partnerships have presented the unique opportunity for dynamic professional development on global food security for educators utilizing a hybrid design format involving digital preparation, digital support, and a domestic immersion experience. The World Food Prize Foundation partnered with the <institution< to design this seven-month program that was delivered with the third cohort this past year. Twenty-five educators were selected from over 75 applications. Educators averaged 15 years' experience and represented diversity in context, discipline, geographic location, and ethnicity. The program involved four fundamental learning goals: (1) Describing Food Security, (2) Utilizing technology to advance project-based learning, (3) connecting to global sustainable development education frameworks, and (4) realizing the collective leadership power of a community of educators. Four 90-minute foundational webinars were presented prior to a week-long immersion experience in Des Moines IA at the Borlaug Dialogues hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation. Following the immersion and the development of an individual reusable learning artifact (RLA) project, participants were provided opportunities in November and December for open office hours with program faculty to refine the project for Spring completion. During the spring, educators are provided monthly team webinars, tasked with being the digital leadership in a diverse digital learning community of over 1000 educators from across the world and building towards a culminating activity of a celebration of excellence sharing our status of RLA projects. Critical outcomes of this program over three years have been stated participant professional renewal and thus retention in the profession. In addition, educators have developed the capacity for interdisciplinary conversations around rallying a community or group around a specific global issue like global food security.
Learning abroad: A Case Study on an International Research Internship Program
Jaelene Loor Suche
The Ohio State University
As global education changes, it faces new challenges and requires the development of opportunities to spread knowledge. Internships have demonstrated their effectiveness in engaging people with practical and applied working scenarios, allowing learners to develop valuable professional skills. This case study aims to describe the bidirectional benefits resulting from a collaborative relationship between the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), The Ohio State University and the Pan-American Agricultural School Zamorano, Honduras through establishing a research internship program. Data was collected from 2004 to 2021 and was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The research internship program started informally with three visiting scholars and continued operating informally until universities signed a formal agreement in 2019. The program has promoted intercultural exchanges among students and faculty from both schools. Until 2021, the program has hosted 73 interns from 12 countries, involving 60 faculty members in different disciplines such as Entomology, Horticulture, and Food Sciences in the CFAES. Results showed the program benefits international students’ by increasing recruitment for graduate studies. Sixty-four percent of the program’s participants have joined the graduate school at multiple academic institutions, and 21% have secured a job in the agricultural industry. Results highlight how interns participate in collaborative research projects in and out of the hosting institution and have disseminated research through multiple academic and informative outlets. These results have informed the research internship program’s vision and priorities, including securing funding to increase the number of internships and to develop resources to help international students succeed during their graduate school experience abroad.
Internationalizing Plant Pathology at the University of Saskatchewan
University of Saskatchewan
Students successfully met the learning outcomes in an undergraduate plant pathology course by engaging in a collaborative online international learning (COIL) experience at the University of Saskatchewan (UofS) from September-December 2021. With limited ability to travel internationally due to the pandemic, COIL provided all 84 Canadian students registered in the UofS course with an opportunity to investigate a topic of mutual interest with 28 students from Universities in Ecuador, Ukraine or in the USA. Colleagues at the universities abroad were consulted and three topics pertaining to plant pathology were chosen on which to base an assignment. The topics were plant disease diagnosis, pathogen resistance to fungicides and biological control of plant diseases. Using a free online social annotation tool, students were given the choice to select one of the three papers. Students participated in an online discussion of the topic, guided by a teaching assistant, over two weeks. Students were then organized into sub-groups of three UofS students and one student from one of the three partnered countries. A broad open-ended question was asked on each topic; the four students in each subgroup worked together to draft a response. Students were encouraged to meet their subgroup over video chat and to edit their document collaboratively. The paper was included in the assessment for the UofS course (10%) and at some (not all) of the universities in Ecuador, Ukraine and the USA. Students were able to develop their disciplinary knowledge while practicing the skills of a globally minded plant pathologist. The COIL exercise was considered a success based on feedback obtained from UofS students and students from other countries. Students reported growth in their intercultural competence after the experience.
Innovative Teaching Strategies: Targeting Industry Skills Through Single Credit Courses
University of Tennessee at Martin
The need for more specific industry training and knowledge is essential for today's graduates. Analytical skills, data management and analysis, effective communication, and critical and independent thinking are some of the elements incorporated in three-credit courses, however these skills take time to acquire. Single credit courses can act as program interventions offering flexibility to introduce targeted training to students that do not fit into the traditional course format. Single credit courses have been popular in traditional STEM programs, but they are not common in agricultural business curriculums. The popularity of digital credentialing has reinforced the industry acceptance of short-term specific courses that develop and demonstrate specific skills. As such, we see analytical tools such as Excel being taught in an abbreviated format such as limited part of term or single credit courses. The development of single credit courses requires significant instructor effort in addition to innovative course designs that provide measurable learning outcomes, balance course content to maintain student interest and attention span, and ultimately achieve targeted student outcomes. This study addresses course development and student assessment related to single credit courses offered in agricultural business curricula at three different universities. Course development focused on creating learning modules covering specific demonstrable skills that could be easily assessed. While spreadsheet-based skills were emphasized, it was important to incorporate a communication component to help students apply the analytical tools in decision making. Course development time was like a traditional three-credit course and required streamlined approach since classroom time was limited. Results from the student surveys concluded that students did enjoy the targeted exercises and the content was relevant and helpful. Further analysis will be discussed on student motivation to enroll in (required or elective) single credit courses in the future. Findings will be useful for programs considering implementing single credit courses.
Improving Distance Education Through a Statewide Program Approach
University of Florida
Covid 19 has shed light on the current need to provide quality educational opportunities for all learners, no matter their location. Opportunities to earn a degree require instructors and administrators to reflect on accessibility, access, and reaching diverse audiences. This presentation aims to share perspectives on current challenges and best practices for designing and implementing distance education through a state-wide program approach. Participants will hear about the experiences of presenters from the instructor and administrator perspective. Objectives of the presentation include participant reflection on current practices as well as issues related to distance learning, sharing the lived experiences and journey of faculty and administrators in making a statewide program work for all stakeholders, and tips for those programs who aim design a statewide program with a distance learning component. Presenters have been engaged in a statewide program as a team for over six years and will present philosophical perspectives as well as best practices from their own experiences. This particular statewide location has experienced an increase of over 100% in the overall distance location student enrollment since the team began working together on improving the delivery of the program. In addition, there has been significant growth in collaborative efforts of the faculty and staff in their shared efforts and in the delivery of the coursework. This workshop will fulfill the NACTA mission of providing a forum for discussion for all post-secondary teachers of agriculture about questions and issues, as well as seeking improvement in the professional advancement of distance teaching and learning in agriculture. The world has is ever-changing, and this presentation aims to bring a new perspective on how to continue to remain relevant and accessible to all learners.
Preparing the Agricultural Workforce to Showcase Their Internships
North Carolina State University
The objective of this innovative idea poster is to highlight a unique way to showcase student internships. Students in the Agricultural Institute at North Carolina State University are required to complete an internship in the summer between their first and second year. These students are asked to complete assignments throughout the internship including weekly reports, evaluations, final project, and final poster. In the fall semester, the Agricultural Institute conducts a program-wide event to connect students with possible internships. First year students are required to attend a luncheon in which they practice formal dining etiquette and meet with industry representatives about potential internships. Following the luncheon, the second year students conduct poster presentations about their internship the previous summer. This allows industry representatives, faculty and first year students to learn about the different internship opportunities as well as allows the second year students to showcase what they learned and practice their communication skills. Students have found this event to both be beneficial in finding internships and in helping them to effectively articulate their internship. Faculty have found benefits in connecting better with students and staying connected with the industry. This also aligns with research that employers are actively seeking positive student experiences with students that possess transferable skills when seeking new hires.
Now That's a Good Story: Creative Writing to Assess Student Misconceptions about Agriculture
Oklahoma State University
Most colleges require nearly 30% of a student's education to be interdisciplinary. Because of these requirements, many students are often introduced to fields where they lack knowledge or interest and have misconceptions. Student misconceptions are among the most-challenging of these learning impediments, especially when the misconceptions have been long-held and reinforced by family members or social interactions. Traditionally, pre- and post-quizzes have been used as a method to determine student knowledge. However, this approach requires faculty to have some understanding of likely misconceptions and creates situations where students are reluctant to share their existing knowledge. Recent research has shown that integrating artistic disciplines like creative writing into traditional STEM fields aids both majors and non-majors in establishing interdisciplinary connections between required education courses and courses in their field of interest, and result in increased student learning and retention. We have been teaching Entomology and Creative Writing to non-major college students using writing prompts assigned before and after a lesson where students describe previous experiences with insects and help instructors identify student misconceptions, to establish the baseline of class knowledge, and the success of meeting learning objectives. Additionally, students engage with the course material through personal antidotes, adding the benefit of individual investment. This presentation provides examples of writing prompts associated with a variety of learning objectives. We believe that these strategies for introducing creative writing into entomology and other STEM areas will help to overcome student misconceptions and foster interdisciplinary interests.
The UALSA Summer Institute: Advancing Culturally Responsive Practices in School- Based Agricultural Education Through Teacher Professional Learning
University of Georgia
Historically, agricultural education has served as an integral part of preparing and transforming individuals to address problems within the field. However, previous studies have shown that the connection between urban populations and agriculture has widen, leading to a lack of understanding of the importance and relevance of agriculture to their everyday lives. The US government has provided numerous resources to educate and support urban agricultural literacy through agricultural and extension education. Yet, these traditional forms are not working to recruit and retain this population due to cultural disconnects. This descriptive study evaluated the effectiveness of a summer institute hosted by a land-grant institution with the goal of helping educators implement culturally responsive practices in urban agricultural education. The framework for this evaluation focused on the reaction and learning levels of Kirkpatrick's Four Levels of Evaluation to assess respondents' perceived knowledge about culturally responsive pedagogy and satisfaction with the professional learning experience. The two research objectives guiding the study were to describe respondents': 1) satisfaction with the summer training institute; and 2) knowledge about culturally responsive practices. Survey results of the 11 participants indicated that the respondents were extremely satisfied with their overall experience at the summer training institute and expressed a desire to implement what they had learned. Also, respondents exhibited a basic knowledge of culturally responsive instructional strategies and a desire to learn more strategies. Recommendations include extending the time of the institute from 4 to 5 days and collecting data on Kirkpatrick's last two levels of application and impact once participants return to the classroom. Preliminary findings support further exploration of this institute as a blueprint for professional learning collaborations between colleges of agriculture and school-based teachers related to developing and implementing culturally responsive curriculum that strengthens the urban student pipeline into agriculture.
A Tiered Assignment Exploring Critical Social Issues in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and the Environment
The Ohio State University
Graduate students in social-science related programs within the college of agriculture at Ohio State University are preparing to work with diverse groups on complex issues related to agriculture, natural resources, and the environment. In a graduate level leadership theory course, a tiered assignment was developed to refine both their scholarly research skills and knowledge of social issues facing the communities in which they may work. This assignment requires students to identify a critical social issue that is salient to their field. 'Critical' pertains to an issue wherein there are structural causes of inequality. For agriculture, natural resources, and the environment examples of these issues are gender equality in international agriculture, minority farmer representation, income-inequality in rural communities, and food security. This presentation will outline the tiered assignment process, describe analysis skills taught in preparation for the assignment, and present student reflections. The tiered assignment includes four submissions: annotated bibliography, literature review, analysis paper, and public-facing resource. Students identify various scholarly sources through their research and address bias as they explore differing perspectives. Their analysis paper extends their research and includes the process of analyzing assumptions, values and judgements related to their topic and then proposing ideas for supporting equity. These can be individual actions, policies, programs, practices, and/or laws. The public-facing resource requires students to develop a product for use in stakeholder meetings, training, or communications (i.e. social media). Reflections indicate that students were able to explore the factors behind complex issues, reflect on their biases, and develop skills for working with others on these issues. Through this presentation, the author hopes to provide the audience with strategies for improving student research and critical thinking skills in the social sciences as well as highlight how course assignments can be extended beyond the classroom.
Use of Simulation and Role Play Learning Activities to Enhance Student Knowledge Retention: A Cross-Discipline Analysis
University of Tennessee at Martin
There are multiple learning styles which educators must consider when crafting learning experiences for students. These can include, but are not limited to, examples such as visual/spatial (learning through graphics, images, and diagrams), body/kinesthetic (learning from physical motion), logical (learning through problem solving), and linguistic/verbal (learning by listening). Historically, university faculty have delivered content through teacher-centered delivery methods such as faculty centric lectures. The lecture method is effective in delivering content to learners; however, it is not always the most effective means to help learners retain content. Simulation and role play learning activities can appeal to diverse learning styles and provide opportunity to apply content knowledge. The purpose of this study was to analyze the perceptions of students who experienced various forms of simulation and role play activities across disciplines. Within the agricultural education program, senior level students role play as the teacher to deliver multiple lessons to peers who role played as high school students. Within the animal science program, students role play as being various anatomical parts to experience how certain organs interact and rely on one another. Within the agribusiness program, students participated in real time futures trading simulations focusing on risk and returns. Within the plant science discipline students individually practice diagnosing plant problems and have a daily responsibility of growing plants by adopting and rehabilitating a struggling houseplant. Within the agriculture engineering discipline students work independently, along with some assistance from peers, through written and video-based case studies to gain proficiency in 3D computer aided drafting software. Students in all disciplines described the learning experiences as 'highly impactful for career preparation" and that these experiences make learning 'more real-world." To meet the needs of a changing society, university faculty must be willing to adapt such teaching methodologies to best prepare learners for their careers.
The Importance of Experiential Learning in Agriculture Literacy Opportunities
Learning Preferences (LP) are considered stable indicators of how students and adults respond to factors of learning in an environment. The environment is interactive with cognitive thought, critical and creative thinking, emotional, physical, and social learning processes. Research farms remain popular for academic and extension faculty use because of the opportunity to share rich experiential teaching opportunities for all ages. Agriculture's connection to human health and environmental quality, and the societal lack of understanding agriculture literacy, exposes the need for enhanced agricultural education efforts. Lincoln University at Jefferson City, Missouri introduced thirty-five (35) incoming agriculture majors, with varying levels of prior knowledge to agriculture, by using experiential methodology. A blind pre- and post-event survey was performed that contained twenty-one (21) prompts using a 5-point Likert scale, regarding introduced topics and disciplines for the day. A paired t-test with probability correction for multiple t-tests was used to analyze the data set. Exposing incoming freshmen to Agriculture Literacy, by using hands-on learning and visual experiences, increased student understanding of agriculture disciplines in Poultry Science, Animal Welfare, Aquaculture, Plants and Soil Science, Environmental Sciences and Geospatial Information Systems (GIS). Additional questions on the post-event survey asked participants to share their favorite activities of the day. The top three activities were all fully involved hands-on activities of the day. These included sorting and weighing sheep, catching chickens, candling eggs, and preparing and testing soil samples. The least favorite activities included more watching and listening which included less hands-on training.
Engaging Learners through Digital Escape Rooms
NCSU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
As a former high school agricultural education teacher of 19 years, and now a lecturer at the university in horticulture, I have found success creating and using digital escape rooms to aid in content delivery. Participants of the presentation will understand digital escape rooms and will be supplied materials to aid in creating their own digital escape room (while having access to two working digital escape rooms). Digital escape rooms engage students in a virtual platform where they are presented with a problem by a character. The character tasks the students with solving a problem through a series of rooms or objects where content is housed. Each room is filled with content and a corresponding puzzle. To solve each room's puzzle, the student explores the corresponding content through videos, reading, infographics and more. Once the puzzle has been solved, the student then enters their answer into a Google Form. The entire time the student engages in the digital escape room, a clock is running in the background and the anxious feeling of winning a game or the pressure to succeed with the time constraints encourages a competitive nature in the students. Finding tools that entice students to learn can be difficult in distance learning. Students often feel disconnected from their peers and complain of being passive learners, who are exposed solely to lectures, videos, and readings. Digital escape rooms put students in the driver's seat of learning. The digital escape room acts as a unique vehicle for knowledge transfer and engagement for asynchronous learning. This methodology need not be limited to distance learning. Additionally, instructors may choose to include digital escape rooms as a means of introduction or review of content.
Modeling Action Research Through Statistics in an Undergraduate Statistics Course
The Ohio State University
Undergraduate statistics can be a daunting course for some students. The objective of this teaching practice was to model how teachers can utilize data to make instructional decisions, and to make this process as accessible as possible. This practice was implemented in a course that was created to offer a social-science practitioner view of statistics and how they can be implemented within the 'real world" in the variety of positions that our students move on to serve in. In teaching this class, I wanted to model the process of action research and using statistics and statistical evidence to make instructional decisions as a teacher “ especially for the half of the course who were agriscience education majors. Through this process, students were presented with class-wide, summarized data from formative and summative assessments, and participated in a guided discussion surrounding what the data could tell us about the assessment“ and by extension, my teaching. Through these discussions, students were introduced to the utilization of student data to guide instructional planning. This process, along with students simultaneously being familiar with the assessment we were discussing, lead to rich discussion surrounding what statistics can and can't tell us about the real world. This process was repeated for a total of five assignments over the semester: two semester exams and three pop quizzes. Ultimately, these sessions lead to deeper student discussions about the interpretation and use of statistics, and how these can be used to either inform or mislead the consumers of this research.
Factors Affecting Students' Performance As a Team Player in Agribusiness
Sam Houston State University
Being a team player is high among the top five skills recruiters and employers look for in the job market. Many empirical studies have investigated the effectiveness of peer assessments in team-based learning among various programs. While most scholars have found peer assessments a reliable tool to assess the individual team member's contribution toward the team effort, researchers have not looked at the main factors that affect individual student assessment results. Qualitative studies have previously investigated factors like being adaptable, communicative, collaborative, tenacious, and disciplined. The objective of this study was to investigate factors affecting student performance as a team player in agribusiness courses. We analyzed a sample of 136 students (71 female, 65 male) enrolled from 2018 to 2021. We administered three different personal assessment examinations: A Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to learn about student personality type, a Strong Interest Inventory to learn about their strengths, and the DISC profile test to review students' behavioral responses. We used conditional logit and multiple linear regression analysis to identify the factors that significantly explain an individual's performance as a team player. To investigate factors associated with being a team player in team-based agribusiness courses, we selected eighteen variables that are more likely to have an impact based on previous studies. The significant variables that resulted from the model included the students' GPA, age, hometown, previous schools and colleges, and their characteristics based on the DISC profile assessment and Myers-Briggs personality assessment tool. The results show a significant correlation between student characteristics and peer evaluation results. Extravert (E), Sensing and Thinking (ST), Sensing and Perceiving (SP), and high Dominance types are more likely to get better results in peer evaluations. The results also indicated that gender was not significantly correlated with being a good team player.
A Collaborative Conference Focused on Inclusive Learner-Centered Teaching and Mentoring
Professional associations host conferences to facilitate networking, professional development, and scholarly outputs. Among land-grant universities, 1890 Historically Black Colleges and Universities focus on engaging students through learner-centered teaching and community-based Extension programs addressing social injustices. Although there is common ground through higher education, there have been limited collaborations between 1890 and 1862 land-grant institutions. The purpose of this innovative project was to convene faculty from 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities to share ideas and explore common interests associated with inclusive learner-centered teaching (LCT) within the contexts of food, agriculture, natural resources, and health sciences. Two collaborative conferences (2020 was virtual & 2021 was face-to-face) were conducted and an online post-conference survey was conducted to measure participants' perceptions. In comparison, 77% (2020) and 69% (2021) agreed LCT was a relevant theme for participants in all discipline areas, and 75% (2020) and 67% (2021) agreed diversity, equity and inclusion was a relevant theme for participants in all discipline areas. Moreover, 90% felt the conference was inclusive, 80% felt the conference participants were open-minded. Moreover, participants deepened their cross disciplinary networking with 88% finding the conferenced to be inclusive and attendees open minded 81%. They also identified learner-centered processes, professional mentoring, and agricultural literacy as key professional development topics. Faculty from 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities were able to build new relationships, explore potential collaborations, and feel more self-efficacious regarding inclusive LCT classrooms. Inclusive LCT and mentoring provided common ground among faculty from 1890 and 1862 institutions to share best practices and build human capacity with strong interest to further advance future collaborations across institutions.
Utilization of CyberSheep for teaching students principles of animal breeding and genetics
North Carolina State University
Animal breeding and genetics can be a challenging topic for Animal Science student comprehension. To address this, Dr. Ron Lewis created a virtual sheep breeding game (CyberSheep). In CyberSheep, students are given a flock of sheep and over several rounds, are required to make selection and investment decisions. In doing so, this game simulates a real-world sheep farm. The objective here was to evaluate CyberSheep as a learning tool for teaching students principles of animal breeding and genetics. A pre- and post-game survey was developed and sent to undergraduate and graduate students at nine participating institutions (pre-game: n = 151 students; post-game: n = 119 students). Students were asked to rank their understanding of various topics on a 5 point scale (1 = no understanding, 5 = complete understanding). When asked to rank their understanding of sire referencing schemes, 6.7% of respondents prior to game play compared to 60.1% after game play ranked a 4 or 5. When asked to rank their understanding of genetic selection programs, 22% of respondents indicated a 4 or 5 prior to game play compared to 72.3% after game play. When ask to rank their understanding of data used for small ruminant selection, 19.3% indicated a 4 or 5 prior to game play compared to 66.3% after game play. When asked to rank their understanding of estimated breeding values, 33.4% of respondents prior to game play compared to 74.5% after game play indicated a 4 or 5. When asked to rank their confidence in managing the genetic selection program for a flock or herd, 10.6% indicated a 4 or 5 prior to the game compared to 52.5% after game play. Therefore, the CyberSheep game increased student understanding of genetic selection and improved their confidence in managing breeding programs.
Promoting Student Well-being Through Wellness Week
North Carolina State University
Research conducted during the outbreak of COVID-19 concluded the pandemic had a significant negative impact on the mental health of college students and proactive efforts were needed to support their well-being. Following a conversation with undergraduate students in which they expressed anxiety and feeling overwhelmed with courses, personal concerns, and feelings of isolation, course instructors determined a Wellness Week should be instituted. During Wellness Week, no class or lab activities were held and instead, students were asked to spend a little time each day to engage in a wellness activity. A Wellness Week document was created and posted in the learning management system with 25 choices of activities. Activities ranged from creating an upbeat playlist or playing a board game to trying a new food. There was also an option to engage in a wellness activity of their choice. From the list, students were asked to select five to complete over the week. Using Flipgrid or a written response, students explained their activities and provided a brief description of how they will continue to prioritize time on a regular basis to engage in personal wellness efforts as a pre-service teacher. After Wellness Week, students had numerous positive comments about the experience and provided encouraging feedback to each other through Flipgrid responses. As a result, the course instructors have continued to incorporate a Wellness Day or Week into their courses. The mental health of students should remain a key priority even post-COVID.
Developing Virtual Reality Applications for the Horticulture Classroom
Kansas State University
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a quick and mandatory transition to online teaching. Prior to the pandemic, increased utilization and implementation of digital learning experiences were in demand for higher education, especially for distance teaching and learning programs. Virtual reality (VR) technologies present a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to engage in on- or off-campus, immersive activities essential to programmatic learning outcomes when travel or access to industry locations and facilities are limited. In this presentation, the authors share their preliminary approach to develop and implement VR applications in two different horticulture courses: Greenhouse Management and Plant Propagation. Students were given pre- and post-activity surveys to evaluate perceptions surrounding VR applications and assess impacts on understanding and confidence pertaining to the course material. Pre-activity results in the K-State Plant Propagation course indicate that 77% of the students (n=33/43) think there should be more VR activities in classes and 84% (n=36/43) believe VR components will be beneficial in their careers. Material covered during lecture and laboratories for each course was supplemented by assigning students 360o images with which they could interact using the online platform, ThingLink, to demonstrate content knowledge. For example, to achieve lower-order learning outcomes, students were expected to identify structural components of a greenhouse or different sanitation elements common to plant propagation facilities. The development of this modality will provide faculty novel tools to help students engage with and experience the diverse horticulture industry to enhance experiential learning quality, increase student success, and improve workforce readiness for students.
Undergraduate Student Reflections on Cross-institutional High Impact Experience: A Content Analysis
University of Idaho
The topic of global food security is not often instructed as an independent unit of instruction or topic in traditional agricultural education, although agriculture is an essential element related to world hunger. Experts recommend exposing post-secondary agriculture students to issues related to global food security. To meet this recommendation, we conducted an immersive program for post-secondary agriculture students with career aspirations of becoming future secondary agricultural educators (N =16) from two institutions in conjunction with the Borlaug Dialogues as curated by the World Food Prize Foundation in Des Moines, IA, the preeminent conference for global policy conversations. This qualitative content analysis allowed us to address the research question 'What do postsecondary students reflect on following a cross-institutional experience related to global food security issues?" Researchers note the importance of reflection during high-impact experiences as a method for determining impact of experience, knowledge gained, and behavioral intentions following the experience. We conducted a content analysis of written personal reflections from all participants following completion of programming. We employed peer debriefing, calibration, triangulation, and audit trail monitoring for all data points to establish trustworthiness. The most prominent themes were noted increases in personal growth and confidence, efficacy for continued growth, desire to teach others, need for quality food security education, and the importance of agriculture. Findings from this content analysis yield recommendations for developing high-impact experiences with the potential to stimulate increased confidence and motivation controls, working with cross-institutional partners, integration of global food security as a topic in postsecondary agriculture courses, and the need for additional educational efforts in global agriculture initiatives.
Creating an Engaging Career-Readiness Curriculum for Post-Secondary Agriculture Students
Morningside University Applied Agricultural and Food Studies
College students may roll their eyes when instructors talk about preparing for 'The Real World," so how can we keep them engaged? In this instance, the agriculture faculty created a curriculum that engages students the first day of class in the first semester of post-secondary education and is reinforced through the next seven semesters until they graduate and are off to the real, Real World. When students are asked to flip their perspective and see class and coursework as their career, attendance and effort throughout the semester are brought to the forefront more than in a normal post-secondary classroom. This approach creates a new curriculum that spans multiple years of postsecondary attendance. It includes immersive experiences such as guest speakers, hosting a small-scale career fair, visiting the largest collegiate, agricultural career fair in the country and implementing work-related experiences throughout. It has resulted in students being better prepared for life after graduation as found by anecdotal exit interviews with students who've completed the program. While the department believes there are strong connections to career-readiness programs in years one, three and four, there is room for improvement in year two to continue reinforcing these concepts. Future plans include incorporating more career-readiness-related activities into year two to create a fluid, consistent curriculum. This presentation will allow you to garner strategies, activities and conversations that will allow you to increase career-readiness skill sets and mindsets for your students.
The Effects of Lax Attendance Policies on Attendance in a Range of Agricultural Courses
University of Tennessee at Martin
Attendance policies can significantly affect students' choices about whether to attend lecture in the classroom. Between Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, however, many universities had little control over their own attendance policies, with traditional mandatory attendance policies becoming exceedingly difficult to enforce in the online or hybrid course environment. The COVID-19 pandemic did, however, allow instructors the opportunity to develop materials and methods of content delivery for classes traditionally bound to the brick-and-mortar classroom due to subject matter. With these tools still available after resuming physical classroom instruction, and as illness and risks from the COVID-19 pandemic persist, it seems reasonable to examine how parallel content delivery methods would perform under less restrictive conditions. In the Fall 2021 semester, several faculty members across agricultural disciplines devised an experiment in introductory-level courses to give students the option to either attend class in person or watch recorded lecture content. Comparing these results from attendance records from the same courses' pre-COVID-19 offerings, we find that despite a strongly stated desire to return to in-person courses, attendance significantly diminished when students were given the option to watch video lectures €“ a reasonably intuitive result. In some of the classes included in the study, researchers were able to collect data on students' video viewing habits. In those courses, a significant portion of the students who selected the video option did not watch the videos. In other words, providing additional options for content delivery actually led to the average student receiving less course instruction. This directly contradicts the intentions of instructors offering course delivery in two parallel formats simultaneously, and it warrants a further investigation of how professors can incorporate the materials and teaching methods adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic into their post-pandemic teaching practices.
Student Success through Collaborative Learning
New Mexico State University
Students often come with pre-conceived notion about certain topics such as sustainable agriculture, genetically modified crops, organic faming etc. A collaborative learning project was introduced in a sustainable crop production course to facilitate discussion among the students on these often-difficult topics. Students were divided into four groups each with a specific role to play while discussing an assigned reading. First group, called 'Presenters' presented the findings from the assigned reading highlighting the salient points. The second group, called 'Enquirers', submitted their questions based on the readings at least two days in advance to the class before the group activity. The third group, 'Problem Solvers' presented the solutions to the questions/issues raised by the 'Enquirer' group. Finally, the fourth group, 'Supervisors' took notes and summarized the whole activity including the salient findings presented, the questions raised, and the solutions offered during the group discussion. At least four discussion activities were planned during the semester and the four groups rotated the roles among themselves at each activity to ensure that each group and student performed all the roles at least once during the semester. The groups were evaluated on a range of questions specific to each group by the peer students, the instructor, and teaching assistant. The students were also asked to note what they thought was the most important lesson that they learned from the group discussion. Results from the analysis of responses indicated a positive impact of the collaborative learning project on student learning and an appreciation of divergent views on the topics.
Impact of Teacher Self-Efficacy on Elementary Agriculture Curriculum
Teachers may be hesitant to implement STEM-based agriculture programs due to their perceived low self-efficacy in the subject area. More deliberate professional development resources for educators can be refined by understanding how their beliefs impact students' learning and interest. The objective of this study is to determine how teachers' previous knowledge and self-efficacy in agriculture impacts student interest in the turkey industry. The primary goal of the program was to create awareness of the turkey industry through STEM-based online curriculum. Four hundred seventy-two students enrolled in the POULT program across 23 Indiana classrooms (17 teachers) in the fall of 2021. Students completed the program (online modules, interactive notebook, and class project) over 6 consecutive school days. Student situational interest was measured two times throughout the program. Teacher self-efficacy, previous agricultural experience, and knowledge of turkey industry were assessed at the start of the program (70.6% response rate). All questionnaires were self-report scales administered online. At the start of the program, 21.4% of teachers had poultry experience and 28.6% had knowledge about turkey production prior to program implementation. Teachers reported low self-efficacy in poultry content knowledge, but high self-efficacy in engagement. Their agriculture and turkey knowledge positively increased their self-efficacy to motivate students to learn about turkey production. Additionally, teachers' instructional self-efficacy impacted students' situational interest. In conclusion, teachers' prior agriculture experience impacts their self-efficacy in teaching, which impacted students' interests in the turkey industry. In order to increase student interest in agriculture topics, effective professional development programs can be created to provide teachers the resources and self-efficacy they need to teach students effectively.
Creating Awareness of the Turkey Industry Through an Online STEM-Based Curriculum
Elementary students have minimal exposure and understanding of the farm to fork process, as there is limited availability of agriculture curriculum for teachers to implement in the classroom. However, exposure to this curriculum is critical to increasing agricultural literacy and awareness of where food comes from. The objective of this study is to investigate student interest, awareness, and literacy gains after completing an online STEM-based turkey curriculum. In Fall 2021, the POULT program was implemented in twenty-three 4th and 5th grade classrooms across Indiana with a total of 472 student enrolled and a 53.8% response rate. Students completed the program over 6 consecutive school days - which consisted of 5 online modules, an interactive notebook and concluded with a class project. Prior to its start, demographic information and individual interest was surveyed, as well as content knowledge assessed via a 15 question quiz. Student situational interest was measured two times throughout the program and content knowledge was re-assessed after completion of the last module. All surveys were administered online via self-reported scales. Results indicated that student content scores increased at the end compared with beginning scores (6.94 vs 9.70; P < 0.001). Additionally, students individual interest, prior agriculture knowledge, and agriculture experience impacted their situational interest. Situational interest subscales novelty and attention demand were both high throughout completion of the POULT Program. Students enjoyed completing the online digestion simulation game and learning about the farm to fork process of turkey production. In conclusion, online STEM-based agriculture programs can be a positive way to increase students' interest and knowledge in agriculture.
Increasing Interaction in Online Courses: Connecting Students, Content and Faculty
University of Tennessee at Martin
The Covid pandemic created a new climate for online education as many universities were forced to move online with little notice. Faculty who worked in traditional course formats had a steep learning curve with moving courses online and sometimes resulted in negative course experiences for students. To facilitate faculty in creating high-quality courses, our institution offers week-long faculty development and training workshops in the Summer and hour-long sessions during the week for Fall and Spring semesters. These opportunities provide faculty with best practices for online pedagogy, walkthroughs, and guides of new technology tools they can implement in the digital classroom, and time for discussion and collaboration with faculty teaching online courses in other academic disciplines. Intentionality in organization and course design is foundational for creating a robust digital learning environment integrating student-to-student, instructor-to-student, and student-to-content interactions. The importance of interaction and a sense of belonging in an online course cannot be underestimated. Recent technologies allow online students to interact and discuss topics in a format reminiscent of social media. This project discusses findings from a variety of online courses (agribusiness; geoscience; history) with traditional students and dual enrollment (students enrolled concurrently in high school and university courses). Presenters will share experiences and results from course assessment data to review a variety of technology tools and best practices to demonstrate a correlation between student engagement and academic persistence and success in online courses. Additionally, the presentation will address how technology tools can be implemented to address faculty time and workload concerns without sacrificing student engagement and interaction.
Comparing online soybean processing module including a laboratory component to on-campus module
Kansas State University, Food Science Institute
Hands-on activities in online courses with at-home laboratories engage students and increase understanding of content. The objective was to compare the effectiveness of an online soybean processing module to an on-campus module. Module components included audio lecture and an at-home laboratory exercise. Students prepared muffins with soy flour at three levels (0, 50, 100%) and evaluated physical and sensory properties. Students' learning was assessed with post-laboratory questions, scientific abstract assignment, a discussion board, and exam questions. After module completion, online students (n=45) then responded to a reflective survey using a Likert scale evaluating the module in increasing understanding of the effects of soy in muffins, improving research and writing skills, and knowledge of food processing principles. Online student responses were compared to on-campus responses (n=49). No differences (p<0.05) were found in student perceptions between the online and on-campus module delivery. Online respondents (91%) agreed or strongly agreed the module encouraged application of food science knowledge. Eighty-nine percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that their scientific communication improved and 91% agreed or strongly agreed that the laboratory improved understanding of the effects of soy on muffin physical and sensory properties. On the abstract assignment, 77% or more of online students met or exceeded expectations given by a grading rubric. Regarding knowledge gained, students reported an increased awareness of products that contain soy and methods for processing soybeans into ingredients. A common response was that students would be more likely to try soy products in the future because they were less concerned with off flavors and interested in the nutritional benefits of soy products. Overall, the module serves as an effective model approach for development of online modules in food science or agriculture-related courses.
Mentoring From Women Leaders Inspires Undergraduate Women in a Summer Agricultural Research Program
North Carolina State University
Colleges and universities, particularly land-grant institutions, are influencers for women in STEM. In particular, women mentors, faculty, and academic advisors positively influence women students' STEM career choices and persistence. Researchers point to social belongingness (where women select careers fields represented by women) and self-efficacy (the belief that one can succeed in a chosen field) as motivating factors for women to succeed in STEM academic and career pursuits. This study describes Explore BiGG (bioinformatics, genetics, and genomic sciences) Data, a summer research program for women undergraduates designed to increase the BiGG workforce and enhance women's participation in food, agricultural, and natural resource careers. In 2020 and 2021, Explore BiGG Data had 14 total participants, referred to as Scholars. Scholars completed an 8-week research experience alongside women scientists, faculty mentors, and graduate students to develop their research abilities, gain leadership skills, and explore BiGG academic and career pathways. This convergent, mixed-methods study involved collecting and analyzing survey and interview data, and researchers merged and compared findings from these qualitative and quantitative strands. A major theme identified was that mentoring from women leaders helped the Scholars to conceptualize themselves as STEM leaders and set academic and career goals. Additionally, the influence of women leaders increased Scholars' confidence as researchers. It is imperative that career development programs connect women undergraduates with women faculty to foster women undergraduates' self-efficacy and social belongingness in food, agricultural, and natural resource careers. Furthermore, career development programs should emphasize leadership and mentoring in the context of research skills.
Visual Modeling as a Pedagogical Strategy in a Nutritional Physiology Animal Science Course
Tennessee Technological University
Nutritional physiology includes complex biological and biochemical processes that can be difficult for students to grasp. Visual modeling is used extensively in courses like physics and chemistry but remains underutilized as a science process skill in biological sciences. Creating visual models helps to make learning visible and simplify complex concepts, thus enabling learners to develop self-explanations and visualize interactions between components of complex systems. We believe that incorporating visual modeling in Animal Nutrition will aid students in describing and deepening comprehension of physiological processes like nutrient digestion and utilization. A learning activity was prepared where students (n = 376) created hand-drawn diagrams of nutrient digestion, absorption, and utilization in several livestock species. We then collected student surveys and reflections, incorporating their feedback to revise future iterations using a Design-Based Research approach. Creating visual models of nutrient digestion, absorption, and utilization in livestock species promoted students’ comprehension, confidence, and ability to integrate and apply course concepts. While constructing diagrams of digestive processes enhanced these metrics during the first iteration of this project, adding a writing component to the activity in iteration 2 (n = 168) increased its effectiveness. Creating visual models of nutrient digestion helped to make the imperceptible visible, while generating written explanations of their drawings required students to articulate thought processes and make direct comparisons using their diagrams. When students were required to create a visual model of digestion and then use it to support their written explanation comparing digestion and metabolism between animal species, their confidence and proficiency in retaining and explaining complex nutritional concepts and making inferences across species increased. Incorporation of similar learning activities in accordance with dual coding theory that include both creating visual models and written explanations will likely be beneficial in enhancing student learning in other biological science or physiology courses.
Perceived Agricultural Experience Impacts the Learning Environment
Illinois State University
The potential impact of preconceived notions on classroom environments has been well documented. This includes how students perceive their peers as well as how students and teachers perceive one another. These perceptions may negatively influence student experiences and be detrimental to achieving learning outcomes. One area in which the influence of perception has been minimally documented is in agriculture programs where changing student and faculty demographics may lead to preconceived notions regarding production agriculture experiences. To evaluate the extent to which perception issues occur in the college agriculture classroom, a survey was administered over three semesters to students in an introductory agriculture course taken primarily by freshmen and transfer students (n=162). The survey assessed students' backgrounds, prior agricultural experiences, and how students perceive the backgrounds and experiences of their classmates and agriculture faculty. Just 36.4% of respondents grew up on farms, with the percentage of farm students varying by academic sequence ranging from 15% (pre-veterinary medicine) to 71% (agricultural teacher education). Respondents overestimate their classmates' agricultural experience, believing that over 91% of their classmates have production agriculture experience, while 71% of students self-report having some such experience. This misperception also influences students' comfort level in their agriculture classes. Non-farm students were more likely (50%) than farm students (15%) to report they have felt like they did not 'fit in" with their classmates because they perceive that their classmates' production agriculture experience exceeds their own (X2(1) = 18.881, p < .01). Interestingly, both farm (85%) and non-farm (90%) students perceive that their agriculture faculty have significant real-world experience in the disciplines in which they teach. Actual faculty experience remains undocumented, suggesting future research needs. As production agriculture experience decreases, it is important to examine the role of perception in modern agriculture to foster a more inclusive and effective learning environment.
Challenges of Hosting a Virtual Ag Sales Contest
Texas A&M University-Commerce
The College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR) at Texas A&M University-Commerce hosts each year the Futures Farmers of America (FFA) Career Development Event (CDE) for Areas V and VI in the state of Texas, which are traditionally in person and mostly at our university campus. In 2020, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic CDEs were cancelled. In 2021, CASNR received permission to host CDEs in a largely face-to-face setting, but some fully or partially online. The purpose of the Ag Sales event is to prepare students to take advantage of the career opportunities in this field. The Ag Sales contest consists of three activities, two of them individually (objective test and individual sales activity) and one in teams (team sales situation). The contest starts with a 45-minute objective test, then a 40-mintue team sales presentation, and concludes with a 15-mininute individual presentation. There were various challenges in conducting the Ag Sales contest fully online. Some are related to conducting a sales call online such lack of handshakes and eye contacts, and some are related to the logistics of the event such as assistants not showing up, limited internet access, informal dressing, moving participants from room to room, joining rooms, participants joining the meeting with another name, participants joining the meeting sharing camera, etc. The challenges were compiled by surveying the people that assisted with the Ag Sales contest (high school advisors, judges, timekeepers, and event chair). We also discuss the dynamics of the Ag Sales contest, including flow, time logistics, rooms set up in Zoom (one main room with breakout rooms), announcements (verbally and via chat messages), and movement of participants from room to room. Our presentation will generate a discussion about challenges related to the pandemic and about conducting events virtually.
How Can We Help?: Strategies for Instructors to Alleviate Undergraduate Student Stress
University of Florida
Stress is becoming synonymous with the undergraduate student experience. Stress can be a productive motivator for students, but unhealthy levels can create distress, which can cause students to experience burnout and health issues. In this study, students were enrolled in a course and asked to provide feedback on levels of stress to instructors while undergoing a stressful phenomenon, the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis of qualitative student reflections identified themes that contributed to student distress including academic stress, financial/work stress, personal stress, university-related stress, family-related stress, and interpersonal stress. Undergraduate students reported their highest levels of distress related to academic stress. While some students did not believe faculty should be responsible for reducing their stress, others provided tangible strategies for reducing distress. Strategies that faculty can implement to reduce their students' distress include being more flexible with due dates and assignments, reducing students' unnecessary workload, and coordinating due dates with other faculty in their programs.
Does Academic Goal Orientation Predict Academic Achievement in Large Undergraduate Agriculture Courses?
University of Arkansas
Academic goal orientation theory posits that students bring three goal orientations to their courses. Students with a mastery orientation seek to learn and become competent, those with a performance-approach orientation seek to outperform their classmates, and those with a performance-avoidance orientation seek to avoid failure. The purpose of this study was to determine if students' academic goal orientations were related to course performance as indicated by final course averages. Following IRB approval, students (n = 394) in six randomly selected, large enrollment (< 50 students), undergraduate agriculture courses completed an academic goal orientation survey at the beginning of the semester and provided permission for instructors to report their final course averages at the end of the semester. The mean final course average was 87.8% (SD = 13.0%). On a 1 to 5 summated Likert scale, students reported the highest mean for mastery (M = 3.96, SD = 0.58), followed by performance-avoidance (M = 3.36, SD = 0.84) and performance-approach (M = 3.20, SD = 0.80) goal orientations. When classified by primary goal orientation, 60.9% had a mastery orientation, 29.4% had a performance-avoidance orientation, and 9.7% had a performance-approach orientation. The mastery goal orientation was significantly correlated (r = .10, p < .05) with final course average, but only explained approximately 1% of the variance in course averages. These results indicate that student goal orientation is not a good predictor of course performance and that students with diverse academic goal orientations experienced success in undergraduate agriculture courses.
Using Course (or Unit) Objectives to Determine Student Perceived Competency in Agricultural Mechanics
The Pennsylvania State University
Secondary agriculture teachers are expected to have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to teach agricultural mechanics in their high school programs. Agricultural mechanics has been noted as an area of low competence by teacher candidates when compared to other agriculture content areas. Agricultural mechanics is an extremely diverse content area with multiple skills required in each area; such as those examined in this study. The purpose of this study was to determine knowledge gain in six units (safety, small gas engine, concrete, electrical, welding, and land surveying) of instruction in an agricultural mechanics course and to see the gain scores are consistent over time. A total of 37 students who completed the course responded to 32 questions across six units both before and after each unit was taught. The results indicated a significant increase in all five units with the exception of the safety unit. The highest gain in scores was evident for concrete, electricity, welding, and land surveying. A modest increase was evident for small gas engines. Overall, the course was effective in increasing agricultural mechanics knowledge. The reason for the low gain in safety is perhaps due to constant emphasis on safety in other agriculture-related classes. Therefore, a review of safety content should be undertaken. For further research, we recommend a follow-up study with the students who have now become agriculture teachers to determine how they are applying the content in their classes. Such a study will help us revise the content and improve the overall course. Additional content areas (i.e. animal science, horticulture, wildlife) should be examined in a similar manner to determine teacher candidate growth. This work should be done in collaboration across academic units to help teacher candidates, as well as other students in those content courses.
Describing Research on Visuals Used for Classroom Learning: Where Does Agricultural Education Fit?
New Mexico State University
Instructors have used visuals in classroom settings for decades. Visuals included in instructional material to significantly improve learning is supported by empirical research. While this evidence strengthens the argument for incorporating visuals, no evidence exists to support teachers' decisions about the amount or type of visuals needed for improved learning. Through qualitative descriptive review of literature, I sought to determine if prior research provides evidence of a relationship between type or frequency of visuals and information retention. I also analyzed existing research to determine if a prescriptive procedure exists to guide educators on how to incorporate visuals into teaching material. Initially, I found73 pieces of literature pertaining to visuals in classrooms. Following exclusion criteria, including year of publication and age of learners in the study, 14 articles formed the pool of research used to generate findings. Literature focused on visual usage within agricultural disciplines accounted for only two of the final 14 articles. Only three articles were prescriptive, providing evidence and tools for improving the use of visuals in teaching. A common theme among articles was the conclusion that disciplines require different visual formats. Essentially, there is not a 'one-size fits all" approach to including visuals in teaching. While some research measured information recall or cognition based on a single visual format, no research has been conducted on the optimum number of visuals for learning or specific visual types desired by students. Agricultural education efforts include the use of visuals, but lack of research limits our understanding of how to best serve students in the disciple. These findings will serve as a foundation for future research to measure cognition related to visuals in agricultural classrooms. This knowledge will provide instructors with clear guidance on how many and what visuals should be incorporated into their future learning materials.
Preparing the Next Generation of Academics Through a Graduate Level Teaching Course
Michigan State University, Department of Animal Science
In a typical Animal Science graduate program, students experience the rigors of research but lack professional training in teaching or educational pedagogy. Expectations of scholarship in teaching for new faculty positions are increasing, yet many graduate students feel unprepared to fulfill the role. To address this division, the Department of Animal Science at Michigan State University developed a graduate level discussion-based teaching course aimed to provide students with the opportunity to develop and teach a lesson plan, reflect on personal diversity, equity, and inclusion statements, and write a teaching philosophy that accurately depicts the student's preferred pedagogical strategies. A survey was provided to students after they completed the course to assess their confidence of instructional pedagogy, appreciation for lesson plan design, and acknowledgement of skills required for successful advancement in academia. The survey had a 91.67% response rate (n=11/12). Students indicated a confidence in knowledge of backward design, designing and assessment of a lesson, and writing a teaching philosophy. After course completion, the majority of participants (72.73%) reported that lesson development requires the greatest degree of effort, while most agreed that grading assessments and student interactions within the classroom requires the least amount of effort (63.63%). Components related to empathy (28.57%), student engagement with lesson material (85.71%), and passion for education (42.86%) were identified as strengths aiding in educational pedagogy. Participants also reported that nerves or discomfort with public speaking (57.14%), designing assessments that align with content and learning outcomes (28.57%), and allotment of class time for student engagement (28.57%) were barriers to their confidence and success in post-secondary education. Educational pedagogy courses may promote further appreciation for scholarly teaching methods and prepare graduate students for academic careers. Future offerings of this course will implement pre and post surveys to assess the degree of improvement in knowledge and scholarship skills.
Is There a Need? Investigating Secondary Agricultural Education Teachers' Perceptions About the Development of Educational Resources Designed to Improve their Ability to Teach Decision-Making Skills
Texas A&M University
Employers across agriculture recognize decision-making skills as critical to students' success in industry careers. Therefore, it is important that agricultural education teachers prepare students with such skills and have access to educational resources to help them. The purpose of our study was to identify agricultural education teachers' perceived needs and interests regarding the development of educational resources designed to help them teach students decision-making skills and to determine if their teaching style influenced their interest. We surveyed 151 secondary agricultural education teachers in the U.S., most of whom identified as white females between the ages of 20 and 39 who had been teaching agriculture for less than 10 years. Respondents represented 35 states. We found that 41.72% (n = 63) of teachers believed there is definitely a need for the development of educational resources, and 33.77% (n = 51) believed there is probably a need. In addition, 52.98% (n = 80) of teachers were extremely interested in receiving educational resources, and 41.72% (n = 63) were very interested. Using a chi-square test, we examined the association between teachers' teaching style (i.e., facilitator, formal authority, personal model, expert, delegator) and their level of interest in receiving educational resources. Results were statistically significant (X2 = 24.80, p = .016, Cramer's V = .23), indicating a moderate association. We also examined the association between teachers' perceived needs regarding the development of educational resources and their interest in receiving them. Results were statistically significant (X2 = 65.45, p < .000, Cramer's V = .38), also indicating a moderate association. These results provide novel insight for teacher-scholars and curriculum developers who create and design educational resources. There is a substantial need and great interest among secondary agricultural education teachers nationwide to receive these types of resources, few of which exist and are widely accessible.
Students' Perceptions on Qualities of Great Teachers
Sam Houston State University
Most universities rely on student evaluations to measure teaching effectiveness. Hence, students' perceptions about the qualities of a great teacher are very important. The objectives of this study were to find the perceived qualities of great teachers and assess the effect of student attributes on those perceptions. We conducted brainstorming sessions in two classes (sophomores with 78 students and senior/graduate with 11 seniors and 9 graduates) and compiled the results to develop a survey instrument with 5-point Likert-type questions [5=strongly agree] on the selected traits from the brainstorming session, along with student attributes. The survey was administered electronically to 194 students in ten Agribusiness classes. We received 117 responses (60.31%). A descriptive statistical analysis was performed, followed by Multiple Linear Regressions (MLR) with top five and bottom five qualities as dependent variables, and Age, Gender, Major, Classification, GPA, and Hours of Employment of the students as independent variables. The results showed that passionate about teaching (mean=4.75), availability/approachability to students (mean=4.69), respectful (mean=4.68), clearly explains materials (mean=4.66), and links theory to real-world applications (mean=4.58) were the top five qualities of a great teacher as perceived by the students. Does not speak with an accent (mean=3.19), allows late work (mean=3.44), lower workload for students (mean=3.50), easy grader (mean=3.65), and strictly enforces the rules (mean=4.04) were the bottom five qualities. The results of MLR showed that females rated passionate about teaching (p=0.025), availability/approachability to students (p=0.027), clearly explains materials (p=0.006), and links theory to real-world applications (p=0.045) significantly higher than males. Students' GPA had significant and negative influence on allows late work (p=0.009), lower workload for students (p=0.002), and easy grader (p=0.002). The study indicates that students value traits such as passion, availability, approachability, respect, clear explanation, and linking theory to real-world applications, and they (especially higher performers) valued academic rigor.
Pathway to Creator: Using the Social Technographics Ladder to Characterize Science Influencers
Texas A&M University
Serving a critical role in message dissemination, message retention, and consumer behavior, influencers have the power to shape thoughts, opinions, and behaviors of their followers. The social technographics ladder classifies social media users into seven rungs: creators, conversationalists, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, and inactives. The purpose of our study was to improve strategies for teaching students how to be science influencers by determining the characteristics that categorize influencers into each of the social technographics ladder rungs. We developed a semi-structured interview protocol using empirical and anecdotal evidence related to social media and research and interviewed five social media strategists in [state] that identified through convenience sampling based on existing relationships. We used a deductive analysis to analyze data according to the social technographics ladder. Students seeking to be influencers should strive for the rungs of conversationalist and creator. A creator is an influencer who 'sparks participation" through 'leadership, accuracy, knowledge of the target audience, and ability to adjust and adapt messaging accordingly." Creators actively build and persuade a specific audience using engaging content, transparency, perceived expertise, information translation and transformation, and audience interaction. Students become influencers and creators through active participation in social media conversations, audience engagement, persistence, story, and data mining, and defining a circle of influence. Conversationalists influence through their writing competency and their ability to distinguish between passion and purpose in their social media strategy development. To become conversationalists, students should find and follow 'community managers" on relevant platforms and further expand their skill sets to reach creator. Instructors can engage students in becoming creators and conversationalists by using a case study approach in the classroom. Challenges to becoming creators and conversationalists include social media fatigue among content creators, constant learning of new algorithms used on social media sites, and lack of understanding because of unfamiliarity.
Towards a Culturally Proficient Classroom: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Course.
The Ohio State University
Societies demand culturally proficient agricultural professionals. That is, individuals with the ability to understand and serve everyone but with a particular interest in underrepresented minorities. Higher education programs in agriculture are still devising effective methods to ensure an education that builds on and disseminates cultural proficiency. This study evaluated undergraduate students' learning process in a cultural proficiency course. Twenty-eight students enrolled in a fifteen-week cultural proficiency requirement course participated in several qualitative and quantitative data collections, including weekly opening reflections, journals, and the Diversity Awareness Profile (DAP) instrument. Researchers analyzed the weekly opening reflections and journals by implementing open coding. For the DAP, students completed it on their first (pretest) and last (posttest) day of classes to evidence changes on their diversity profile. This research project suggests that students were progressively increasing their understanding of individuals' cultural identities and experiences of underrepresented minorities. Students expressed how beneficial it was to break down unconscious prejudices through the course activities and became more comfortable engaging in privilege-related conversations. Students deconstructed the concept of privilege to understand how it prevents more equitable and inclusive societies. According to the DAP's results, 75% of the students changed their diversity profile within the Diversity Awareness Spectrum. Cultural proficiency requires a life-long learning process. However, this study shows how a cultural proficiency course benefits students' cultural development. Further research is needed to better understand what course components were most helpful in learning about cultural proficiency.
Effects of Low-Stakes Quizzing on Student Learning in Two Plant Identification Courses
Iowa State University
Plant identification courses are considered difficult because they rely heavily on memorization of new vocabulary and scientific names. As most students are new to binomial nomenclature, good study habits are particularly important for best performance. Research in educational psychology has reported low-stakes quizzing prior to other standard assessments can improve student scores and retention. Low-stakes quizzing is a method of retrieval practice receiving increased attention in academia in recent years. However, this method has not been widely researched in natural science and agricultural settings. This research project investigated the effects of low-stakes quizzing in two collegiate plant identification courses so students might improve their performance on higher-stakes quizzes. Students from Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Landscaping (HORT 240) and Herbaceous Ornamentals (HORT 330) completed a brief, low-stakes quiz almost every week as a way to review the content presented in recent lectures. These online low-stakes quizzes were followed up with higher-stakes quizzes conducted in person in the lab the following week. Ten low-stakes and 10 high-stakes quizzes were administered in each class. Quizzes were cumulative in both classes for the first half and second half of the semester. Scores from both sets of low-stakes quizzes and high-stakes quizzes were compared to assess student performance. The largest benefits of low-stakes quizzing were measured in students with average grades, suggesting it's beneficial to a wide range of students. Student reflections noted low-stakes quizzing forced them to study earlier and helped hold them accountable for studying regularly throughout the semester. The potential success of implementing low-stakes quizzing into more educators' curricula could prove to be a key factor in their students' academic performance and retention of material after leaving their courses.
Career Development and Networking From the Classroom: an Experiment With Skin in the Game
University of Tennessee at Martin
Convincing agricultural business students at a small, rural university to actively engage in professional social media can seem an uphill battle. In an increasingly digital and interconnected world, however, employers rely more heavily on digital media skills each year. Large agribusinesses like Bayer, Tyson, and John Deere have embraced social media and expect recent graduates to be well-versed in the communication media of their generation. If students' career prospects rely on savvy social media use, it is the duty of agricultural business programs to incorporate education about the responsible use of those tools into the curriculum. In this study, students in multiple classes developed LinkedIn profiles with incrementally stricter rubrics and requirements to determine how emphases on specific components could nudge them to improve their professional online presence. In particular, the assignment required students to connect with other LinkedIn users outside of the university network (i.e., not professors, friends, or alumni of their university). Different treatments required varying numbers of connections. This external review put students' 'skin in the game," since their public profiles would be scrutinized by real-world businesspeople and potential employers. Rather than having the desired effect, preliminary results indicate that overall, the quality of students' LinkedIn profiles was actually lower when the assignment required external connections. Those results are driven by a larger proportion of students not completing the assignment when external connections were required. This indicates that rather than put skin in the game, more students are opting not to play when the stakes are higher.
OC-RAE: A hands-on virtual learning environment for agricultural education in the Information Age
The Olds College Remote Agriculture Ecosystem (OC-RAE) is a novel project designed to meet the needs of new programs that focus on the intersection between agriculture and technology. It is a virtual learning environment, where students learn hands-on about sensors, IoT connectivity, cloud computing, and the fundamentals of water, soil, and plant science from almost any location. OC-RAE is comprised of three phases: Phase 1 €“ students build a growth chamber from a low-cost assortment of sensors, cameras, and microcontrollers; Phase 2 - students use the growth chamber to grow and monitor plants, collect diverse datasets on an IoT cloud enabled platform, and practice data-driven decision-making using senor output; and, Phase 3 €“ students compile and analyze the collected data to meet objectives specified by the instructor. After a successful launch during the COVID pandemic in the winter of 2021, OC-RAE has proven to be a versatile way to teach agriculture technology for many different learning or research objectives. In this presentation, we share our experience developing and using OC-RAE as a learning/research tool and discuss the many possibilities in which projects like OC-RAE can move agricultural education forward in The Information Age.
Letting students ask questions: Inquiry based learning in an asynchronous online course
Texas A&M University, Department of Animal Science
Learning begins with curiosity and providing students an opportunity to ask questions is a part of inquiry-based learning. To develop better questioning skills in students, it is necessary to offer frequent opportunities to ask questions, provide feedback on these questions, and expose students to better questions ultimately leading them to ask higher order questions requiring reflection and critical thinking. The objective of this paper is to discuss a strategy to promote inquiry-based learning used in an asynchronous online animal science course. A General Animal Science course (ANSC 107; 506 students) taught during the fall 2021 semester utilized Packback® learning community as a platform for developing student questioning skills. To assist students with formulating questions, key features of the platform, including artificial intelligence driven guidance to reach a curiosity score benchmark, providing sparks, highlighting posts, and coaching and praising students were used. The students were asked to submit one thoughtful question with curiosity scores over 60 each week and to respond to two of their friends' questions related to the course material covered that week. The overall curiosity score for the semester was 70.29 (range 45-98). Although the average curiosity score increased as the semester progressed (72 to 79), multiple students failed to meet the minimum requirement. Overall, student evaluations of the activity indicated positive feedback, with students admiring the opportunity to learn from peers. We concluded that students appreciated the opportunity for peer interaction in an asynchronous online course but having to pay for the platform was a major concern.
Using Collective Reading to Facilitate Student Discussion and Engagement
Abilene Christian University
Often reading assignments are seen as solitary activities that students may not necessarily be motivated to complete independently. Instructors may find it challenging to encourage their students to prepare for classes by effectively engaging with the course materials, especially without additional work in lesson preparation and grading for instructors. Perusall is a social e-reading platform that is compatible with most Learning Management Systems. It allows instructors to provide collective reading assignments to facilitate student discussions and course engagement. The objectives of using Perusall as a supplemental tool include improved reading comprehension, engagement with course material, and the development of a more inclusive learning community. It offers students intrinsic and extrinsic motivational support to complete course reading assignments and effectively prepare for active and collective learning. Within this case study, Perusall was utilized within a senior-level reading and writing-intensive course concerning environmental thought and ethics. The presented case study will emphasize course design and assignment implementation and highlight some benefits and challenges of using collective reading assignments. Examples of collaborative reading exercises and pedagogical frameworks will be discussed in order to offer more instructional tools for use within academic courses. Collective reading pedagogical frameworks and techniques offer opportunities for instructors to creatively innovate and invite increased student participation within their learning communities.
Building an Ed Tech Database
Mississippi State University
A plethora of educational technology that teachers could integrate into their classrooms exists. However, these technological solutions are not adopted for various reasons, such as teachers' lack of knowledge about the technology, limited proficiency with using the technology, or teachers' lack of perceived usefulness of specific technology tools. In addition, with the increasing professional demands faced by teachers, they may not have the time to explore these technologies. How can this issue be addressed? How do preservice teachers learn about and keep track of educational technology that they can integrate into their instruction? Students enrolled in the Teaching Methods in Agricultural and Human Sciences at Mississippi State University learn by doing. They build an educational technology database app to assist in learning about specific technologies. Students explore educational technologies to integrate into instruction for their microteaching experiences. They develop a brief description and potential uses of a specific tech tool. They enter the information along with a URL into a form that automatically organizes it in a spreadsheet. The class reviews the information and cleans up data and removes duplicate entries. We then use Glide, a no-code app building platform, to transform the crowdsourced database into an app. Glide is a platform that allows a user to build an app in minutes with no coding required. The app is distributed to students and they bookmark it on their smartphones. The 'Ed Tech App" is then referenced throughout the semester as students plan lessons and develop their technology integration skills. This project has been implemented for two semesters, resulting in two database apps outlining 43 and 87 technology entries respectively. It has become a very popular course project that students continually mention being useful beyond our class. We will conduct technology integration self-efficacy studies in future courses to measure the potential impact of this project.
Global EdChat: Interdisciplinary food security discourse on Twitter
The Pennsylvania State University
Advancing technology enables teaching and learning in new ways including new models for educator professional learning. With the understanding that Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly, technology like social media platforms can bring together diverse groups of individuals which is critical when looking at overcoming global challenges. Educators around the globe have capitalized on the use of Twitter to advance their professional development. Twitter education chats (edchats) have created space for educators to build communities of practice and expand their knowledge and understanding, but the discourse has not been closely analyzed especially as it relates to issues of agricultural education. A facilitated edition of a well-established edchat, #GlobalEdChat, from October 2021 was reviewed to describe the discourse of educators on UN Sustainable Development Goal #2: Zero Hunger in response to a series of prompts focused on food security. The objectives guiding the study included: (1) describing the dialogue in relation to social construction of knowledge, (2) analyzing depth of comprehension of the four pillars of food security as identified by the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); and (3) evaluating alignment of the dialogue in relation to Bloom's Taxonomy (2001). Of the 255 original tweets coded, we assessed social construction of knowledge by applying Gunawardena et al.,'s (1997) framework and found that the majority of tweets focused only on sharing or comparing information or opinions with no deeper level of engagement. In assessing application of food security pillars, the majority of tweets mentioned food access and production agriculture. Initial analyses using Bloom's taxonomy show that most tweets focused on understanding or application. Recommendations for best practices of future engagement and for future analysis will be provided.
Did you see that? Online behaviors students report as appropriate for virtual classes
University of Arkansas
Conferencing technology has become commonplace for students due to the pandemic. Teaching virtually revealed a range of student behaviors from students utilizing desks as they would in a class setting to those engaged in a variety of activities (duck blinds, facials, and road trips). Data were collected using an online instrument. Only items focused on student behaviors from the larger study are reported below. Participants of this study were University of Arkansas students who had been in a virtual class or classes during the previous 15 months. Cognitive interviews and pilot testing were conducted on the overall instrument. Students were recruited from large enrollment classes and through the daily news announcements between December and May 2021. Respondents were freshmen 20.1% (n=108), sophomore 25.7% (n=138), junior 26.4% (n=142), senior 21.2% (n=114), and graduate 6.3% (n=34). Usable responses (n=545) showed students somewhat agreed 44.1% (n=241) and strongly agree 31.1% (n=170) with 'video cameras are optional"; 'background appearance is important for students" showed 33.0% (n=180) somewhat agreed, 23.3% (n=127) neither agreed nor disagreed, and 19.3% (n=105) strongly agreed; only 14.1% (n=77) strongly agreed with 'the type of digital background (beach, library, etc.) impacted other's opinions of me" while 28.6% (n=156) somewhat agreed. Statements 'it is acceptable for me to be out and about (drive-through, doctor's waiting room, walking the dog, etc.)" showed 57.5% (n=314) strongly or somewhat disagreed; 'I multitask during virtual class unless participating in an activity or discussion" showed 54.7% (n=298) strongly or somewhat agreed; and 'it is okay to sit in bed (with bed visible) during class" 47.1% (n=257) strongly or somewhat agreed while 22.5% (n=123) neither agreed nor disagreed. Results indicate teachers should utilize questionnaires about virtual class behaviors from students to develop relevant class procedures and policies.
Interaction Strategies Optimized for an Online General Education Course in Horticulture
University of Florida, Horticultural Sciences Department
General education courses are excellent avenues to teach new subject matters to a wide audience. We modified a popular general education course 'VEC2100 World Herbs and Vegetables" taught annually using face-to-face mode into a 100% online course offered twice a year. Both in-person and online formats use a variety of experiential learning opportunities to achieve the course objectives. The methods used for student engagements during the in-person teaching included hands-on activities on the use of spices and vegetables, growing herbs and vegetables in container gardens, horticultural demonstrations, in-person student presentations, and a guided group project. When teaching using the online format, we mailed a kit containing seeds, spices and container garden supplies for students to do the activities at home. The online course was taught through Canvas via recorded presentations, asynchronous discussion, question and answer sessions, hands-on activities, a guided group project, and student presentations using the VoiceThread tool. The course content was designed to facilitate three types of interactions: (1) student “content interaction via hands-on activities and writing assignments, (2) student “student interaction via on-line discussions requiring students to consider both sides of a controversial topic, a group project, and student presentations and (3) student “instructor interaction via periodical question and answer sessions where the instructor answered questions posed by the students, and feedback on student's work. A comparative analysis of student evaluations of the course and instructor did not differ for the in-person mode (2018 and 2019) and 100% online mode (2020 and 2021) offerings. However, the online mode of instruction was better for improving access to a larger number of students and facilitated all three types of interactions. Text mining of student comments revealed specific methods that were most valuable for student learning based on students' self-assessment.