Essential Ingredients for Seasoned Teaching

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2023-06-22

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North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture

Abstract

More than a decade ago, the National Research Council challenged agricultural education professionals to transform their relationship to the evolving global food and agricultural enterprise. While recent improvements have been documented, technical and community colleges have often been overlooked and underserved. Community college leaders recognize the importance of preparing students for success in a work environment that includes the ability to adapt. While technical and subject matter skills are important, they change over time. Skills, such as communication, collaboration, and leadership, are more durable in nature. These durable skills are much more difficult to teach but are crucial to successful employment. These employability skills are of critical importance to agriculture's workforce. Workforce readiness preparation needs to be integrated into existing agricultural education and curriculum development. We introduce the Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) model for improvement as an overarching framework for piloting, evaluating, and implementing curricular changes in a single course and across multiple sites. PDSA provides a simple, powerful tool to support continuous improvement in the classroom. A partnership between a four-year university and a team of community college partners has yielded research and learning opportunities that suggest benefits of utilizing the PDSA model to integrate employability, durable, and leadership skills into current curriculum. During the 2022-2023 academic year, a cohort of community college faculty incorporated the PDSA framework into the curriculum design process. Examples of this work include improvements to student motivation to learn, group project management skills, and workforce awareness and readiness. The PDSA continuous improvement approach offers a model that anyone can use to expand and enhance educational curricular design.

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