An assessment of the relationships between lesson topics presently taught and lesson topics that should be taught in exploratory agriculture classes in Virginia
This study was undertaken to identify the lesson topics that are being taught in exploratory agriculture classes in Virginia and compare these lesson topics to lesson topics that should be taught in exploratory agriculture classes as perceived by exploratory agriculture teachers, State Department of Education agricultural education supervisory staff, teacher educators in agriculture, and vocational directors in those school systems offering exploratory agriculture classes.
The population of this study consisted of 50 teachers of exploratory agriculture, 11 teacher educators, 8 agricultural education supervisors, and 15 vocational directors. Eighty-nine percent, or 75, of the potential respondents marked and returned the opinionnaire in usable form.
Two instruments were developed for purposes of this study; one for teachers of exploratory agriculture classes and one for agricultural education supervisors, agricultural teacher educators and vocational directors. A list of possible lesson topics that might be taught in exploratory agriculture was selected from a review of literature on exploratory agriculture and this list of lesson topics was included on both instruments. The instruments were evaluated by a panel of experts and pilot tested. Respondents were asked to check lesson topics that should be taught in exploratory agriculture classes, and to rate the importance of those lesson topics to an exploratory agriculture class on a 1 - 5 point Likert scale. Teachers were also asked to check lesson topics they are presently teaching and to record the amount of time, in class periods, they spend on each lesson topic.
Summary of Findings
None of the 49 lesson topics on the opinionnaire were taught by 100 percent of the teachers, and two lesson topics were not taught by any teacher. Additional lesson topics in technical agriculture were added by 52 percent of the teachers. The lesson topic taught by the largest number of teachers (N = 32) was "Understanding the meaning of agriculture and agribusiness," and the largest mean number of class periods (2.72 class periods) was also spent on this topic. Respondents indicated that 39 of the lesson topics on the opinionnaire should be taught in exploratory agriculture classes. The lesson topic ranked the highest on mean importance was "Exploring the occupational opportunities in agriculture" with a mean importance of 4.30. Thirty of the 39 lesson topics that should be taught in exploratory agriculture had frequency counts of 20 percent when compared to frequency counts for lesson topics presently taught by exploratory agriculture teachers. There were significant differences at the .05 level on 12 lesson topics when comparing the respondent groups on this perception of lesson topics that should be taught. On a comparison of the mean importance of lesson topics among the respondent groups, differences large enough to be of importance were found on four of the lesson topics.
The exploratory agriculture curriculum committee should give considerable attention to the findings of this study in the finalization of a state curriculum guide for exploratory agriculture classes.