Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural & Extension Education (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Education, Communications and Technology

Advisor

Jefferson D. Miller

Committee Member

Leslie D. Edgar

Second Committee Member

Casandra K. Cox

Third Committee Member

Charles F. Rosenkrans

Abstract

This study sought to assess students' and instructors' perceptions regarding the value of an agricultural communications magazine capstone course at three universities that were identified as exemplary in an effort to describe the characteristics leading to the course's success. Using a qualitative survey methodology, the investigator administered an open-response survey, conducted personal interviews with purposively-selected students in each course and the instructors, and made field observations. Both the interviews and the surveys consisted of six, in-depth questions crafted after Andreasen's (2004) of a successful magazine capstone course. Based on students' and instructors' perceptions through the lens of Andreasen's (2004) model, this course met students needs for experiential learning and provided students with the opportunity to transition from college students to professionals. The investigator came to the conclusion that providing students with a real-world experience and positive reinforcement is essential to these courses. Students felt expectations for deadlines, quality of work, and attendance was similar to what they would expect in the workforce. In turn, they thought this would help them prepare to enter into a career.

Also, students also reported a strong appreciation for positive feedback. Because capstone courses often serve as a "rite of passage," students need positive reinforcement to make it through key moments in the course (Durel, 1993, p. 223). These moments of positive reinforcement helped students gain confidence in their skills as professionals. The results also lead to the recommendation of modifications to Andreasen's (2004) five R's model to better fit the agricultural communications discipline with changes focusing on the concept of noise and feedback. Following the recommendations of Rhodes, Miller, and Edgar (2012), it is recommended that future versions of the model include noise throughout the model and feedback outside the inner-workings of the model.

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