Date of Graduation

8-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Catherine W. Shoulders

Committee Member

Casandra Cox

Second Committee Member

Donald M. Johnson

Third Committee Member

Harold L. Goodwin

Keywords

Education; Agricultural education; Critical friendship; Student teacher; Teacher education

Abstract

Like educators in other disciplines, agricultural education preservice teachers must find ways to improve as teachers using methods such as reflection or peer observation. Critical friendship combines both, promoting reflection through the use of a critical friend who observes an individual’s teaching and provides constructive criticism to help the individual advance their practice. This qualitative study sought to use the critical friendship concept to assist agricultural education preservice teachers in reflecting on their teaching techniques. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups; one group selected a critical friend in agricultural education, and the other group selected a critical friend in an educational discipline outside of agricultural education. Participants were asked to have a conversation with their critical friend each week, and reflect on the conversation in their journals. Audio from conversations from week four through week six of the study were recorded. The participants were also required to arrange for their critical friend to come observe them teaching a lesson plan prepared by the researchers and then reflect on the experience together. At the end of the student teaching internship, participants were asked to engage in one-on-one interviews with the researcher about their experiences in a critical friendship. The audio recorded conversations and interviews were transcribed and coded for themes. Different themes emerged from the conversations between two agricultural education preservice teachers and between an agricultural education preservice teacher and a teacher in a different educational discipline. The two agricultural education preservice teachers discussed teaching concerns and sought feedback from each other about potential solutions. The agricultural education preservice teacher and the non-agricultural education critical friend used the conversations to establish common ground as teachers. The same themes emerged from the interviews regardless of the type of critical friend. Participants found critical friendships to be beneficial, but cautioned that there were certain characteristics that allowed their critical friendships to develop.