Date of Graduation

5-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Leslie Edgar

Committee Member

Donald Johnson

Second Committee Member

K. Rucker

Third Committee Member

Dennis Beck

Keywords

Agricultural Communications, Agricultural Education, Curriculum, Secondary Education

Abstract

The purpose of this mixed method study was to assess the effectiveness of agricultural communications curriculum developed and incorporated into a semester-long agricultural leadership and communications course for secondary agricultural education programs in Arkansas. This study was comprised of three parts including a pilot test, teacher training assessment, and a descriptive field test over a two-year period. For the pilot test portion of the study, students (N = 297) participated in newly developed instructional modules (careers, writing, design, and multimedia) predetermined by a committee of agricultural education and communications faculty at the University of Arkansas. The pilot test indicated students' knowledge increased after instruction, for each curriculum module. Lack of time, limited technology, teacher training, and curriculum content were the most common emergent themes among teachers.

Following the pilot test the curriculum was revised into 11 smaller units and made available on-line for the descriptive field test portion of the study. Additionally a series of agricultural communications teacher trainings were offered covering three units of revised curriculum. The teacher training aimed to gauge teachers' perceptions of the curriculum and the training experience. Participating teachers (N = 23) were most interested in photography and photo Editing / manipulation. Furthermore, Participants were satisfied with all aspects of the inservice including content, overview of curriculum, curriculum units covered during inservice, and the instructor.

The descriptive field test portion of the study evaluated student knowledge gained throughout the descriptive field test in 11 different unit areas, student knowledge application through project-based unit activities, and teachers' perceptions of the revised curriculum. For the students who participated in this portion of the study (N = 182) it was evident from the pre- and post-test assessments, knowledge of agricultural communications increased. Moreover, agricultural communications skills were displayed in skill-based activities returned to the researcher. As for the teachers who participated in the descriptive field test (N = 27), it was noted they found value in the curriculum content but expressed the need for support from state staff and their school administrations to accept the agricultural communications curriculum as an integral part of high school agricultural education.