Agriculture Teachers' Attitudes toward Adult Agricultural Education in Ohio Comprehensive High Schools

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1 Agriculture Teachers' Attitudes toward Adult Agricultural Education in Ohio Comprehensive High Schools Yung-Chul Kim, Graduate Student Department of Human and Community Resource Development The Ohio State University Larry E. Miller, Professor Department of Human and Community Resource Development The Ohio State University 2120 Fyffe Road, Columbus, OH Abstract The purpose of this study was to determine the attitudes of agriculture teachers concerning their adult agricultural education program activities in Ohio comprehensive high schools. A descriptive survey with a correlation component was conducted. Eighty-one randomly sampled teachers out of the target population (N=354) were drawn. A 6-point Likert-type scaled questionnaire was used to measure the attitudes. Data were collected through a mailed questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize the data and correlations, t-tests, and ANOVAs were used to identify the relationship between the attitude and selected demographic characteristics. Only 39% of the respondents had an adult agricultural education program at their school currently. Teachers had an average of 15 years of teaching students and 4 years of teaching adults. Attitudes toward adult agricultural education were viewed as positive overall by the responding agriculture teachers. However, the teachers have perceived that time and funding were the major barriers, even if the need and benefits of the programs were great. 196

2 Introduction Should agriculture programs in secondary schools continue to play a role in adult education? Even if adult agricultural education has a rich history and has greatly contributed to agricultural development, difficulties have emerged in managing these programs in the U.S. secondary school setting. Two different perspectives exist as to whether or not adult agricultural programs should be a part of agricultural education programs in comprehensive high schools. One position is that adult agricultural education in the high school setting is worthwhile to offer only if agriculture teachers have the time and the will. What is more, this could be extended to the uselessness of offering adult programs in the secondary education settings. In this regard, McCracken (1992) noted that the public school system was no longer effective to provide adult education due to overlap of function with the Cooperative Extension Service and insufficient funding to adult agricultural education programs. Another position is that it should be mainstreamed as a part of agricultural education programs. According to Zidan (1999), the need for adult education still existed because of demographic population changes, rapid career changes, technological advancement, and environment concerns. Riley (1999) stated that the public schools would be the best delivery system for adult agricultural education programs. The reasons for that, he pointed out, were (a) to make the most use of public school facilities, (b) to have easy access to up-to-date knowledge and skills, and (c) to view the school as a good place for education, leadership, and social activities. Miller (1979) stated the importance of adult agricultural education programs, noting that adult education in agriculture has been treated like a stepchild, The future of vocational agriculture may hinge heavily upon the readiness of the profession to change and expand the continuing education portion of our program. Many studies have addressed the benefits of offering adult education programs in agriculture. Teachers could keep up with knowledge and technological development on a regular basis, and learn from the adult enrollees. The adults could make use of current knowledge and technical skills, and be motivated to learn continuously. Schools could procure the support of the communities and communities could have various accesses to learning resources. High school students have the advantage of adequate amount of teaching materials and excellent career orientation from the adults. Further, Franklin and White (1999) recommended that adult agricultural educators provide and expand adult programs not only to those who are involved in agriculture, but also to those who are not being served by means of efficient use of distance education. In accordance with the broader clients, adult educators, to be competent, should have the ability to perform needs assessment, to teach with appropriate adult learning methods, to make well-prepared lesson plans, and to have in-depth subject matter knowledge. As such, many professionals still believe that there is a future for adult agricultural education in the public school (Franklin & White, 1999; Migler, 1999; Miller, 1981; Riley, 1999; and Zidan, 1999) and have addressed the pivotal role of agriculture teachers with regard to adult agricultural education (Christmas & Warmbrod, 1988; Chizari & Taylor, 1991). Given these positions, the attitudes of agriculture teachers are important in determining the future. Objectives The purpose of this study was to determine the attitudes of Ohio agriculture teachers concerning their adult agricultural education programs. The questions addressed were: 1. What are the Ohio agriculture teachers' attitudes toward adult agricultural education? 197

3 2. Is there a relationship between the attitudes of teachers and the existence of adult agricultural education programs in the school? 3. What are the relationships among Ohio agriculture teachers' attitudes toward adult agricultural education and the selected demographics of: years of experience as a teacher, years of teaching adults, existence of a Young Farmers Chapter, coursework taken in adult education in a post-secondary institution, existence of in-service training in adult education, level of education, number of agriculture teachers in the department, age, farming background, marital status, and gender. Procedures The type of research conducted was a descriptive survey with a correlation component. The target population studied was all Ohio agriculture teachers in the comprehensive high schools (N=354) listed on the Ohio Agricultural Education Directory. The needed sample size, using the formula of Cochran (1963), was 81(23%) of the 354 agriculture teachers in Ohio comprehensive high schools. This produced a 95% confidence level with + or - 5% sampling error. Eighty-one teachers were randomly selected so that sampling, selection and frame errors were controlled. The survey instrument was composed of two parts. Part one of a questionnaire developed by Krill (1983) was utilized for data collection. Content validity was established by a panel of experts and internal consistence reliability was.78 with Cronbach s alpha procedure. Thirty-four items comprised part one of the instrument scaled with a six point Likert-type scale with points of very strongly disagree (1), strongly disagree (2), disagree (3), agree (4), strongly agree (5), and very strongly agree (6). The items on the questionnaire have been grouped under the domains of Need for the Program, Funding of the Program, Operation of the Program, Benefits of the Program, and Adult Organization. Part two was developed to investigate selected demographic characteristics of agriculture teachers and schools. In that instrument, space for teachers additional comments was provided. Data were collected through a mailed questionnaire. In order to get as many responses as possible from the teachers in the sample, the procedures were conducted as follows: Prenotice, first questionnaire including cover letter and Ginseng tea, first follow-up postcard, second questionnaire with cover letter and Ginseng tea, and second postcard reminder. Fiftyfour subjects responded to the initial mailing and 13 subjects responded to the second mailing. Two subjects' responses were identified as unusable data. So the response rate of this study was 80.2%. Non-response error was controlled by comparing late and early respondents (Miller & Smith, 1983). Early respondents were those who responded to the first mailing. Late respondents were those who responded to the second mailing. These two groups were compared statistically to determine differences. A t-test between two groups showed no significant difference. Data were analyzed with frequencies, percentages, means, standard deviations, correlations, t-tests, and ANOVA with an a priori alpha level of.05 using SPSS. Results According to the demographic data, only 39% of the agriculture teachers (n=25) currently had an adult agricultural education program at their school. Among those teachers, 30% of the teachers (n=12) gave instruction to adults over 50 hours last year. Only 26% of the respondents (n=17) had a Young Farmers Chapter in their school. The typical agriculture 198

4 teacher had been teaching for an average of 15 years, had taught adults for four years, had a B.S. degree and was 41 years of age; 74% of the teachers (n=48) were married; and 85% (n=55) were male. Ninety-one percent of the respondents (n=59) were reared on a farm. While 26% of them (n=17) have had a specific course about adult education in college, 42 % of them (n=27) have had in-service training in adult education. Need for the programs Teachers strongly agreed that agriculture was of much importance in their school district and that adults really wanted additional information regarding agricultural subjects. Teachers responded that adult programs were the responsibility of the comprehensive high school, not the joint vocational school system or the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service and, however, they recognized that the main responsibility of a comprehensive high school was to students in grades nine to twelve. Funding of the Program The teachers were asked about who should provide money for the programs. The teachers disagreed that adult programs should be self-supporting and agreed with using local tax dollars to support adult programs. They also responded that current state and national funding was not adequate. Operation of the Program Sixty percent of the teachers disagreed that adult programs should be conducted by someone other than the high school agriculture instructor and 59% of the teachers wanted to teach adult programs. However, only 38% of the teachers perceived that they had the time to teach adult programs. Ninety-two percent of the teachers believed that adult programs should be conducted with the assistance of an agricultural advisory committee. Benefits of the Program The teachers were questioned about the benefits of adult programs on the school, community, enrollees, and teachers. The results showed that the teachers had strong positive attitudes toward the benefits of the program. Ninety-two percent of the teachers indicated that having adult programs enhanced community's attitude toward the school and adult programs provided excellent public relations for schools. Adult Organization Most of the teachers perceived that the Ohio Young Farmers Association are of great benefit to both the school system and the adult students. Utilizing 3.5 as the midpoint between agreeing and disagreeing, it can be concluded that Agriculture teachers had positive attitudes toward adult agricultural education programs even if they did not agree strongly, overall, according to the grand domain mean (4.01). Teachers had positive attitudes toward Need for the Program, Operation of the Program, Benefits of the Program, and Adult Organization (Young Farmers Association) while their attitudes were evenly split toward Funding of the Program in light of the domain mean. They perceived that time and funding were the major barriers even if the need and benefits of the programs were great. The relationship between teachers attitude and the existence of an adult agricultural program in the school was negligible. Negligible relationships were found between teachers attitude toward adult agricultural education and 11 selected demographic characteristics of the teachers and schools. 199

5 Table 1: Agriculture Teachers Attitudes Toward Need For the Program Item Statement Mean(a) SD a. Agriculture is of little importance within our school district. (reversed)(b) b. Adult programs are the responsibility of the joint vocational school system; not the comprehensive high school. (reversed) c. Adult programs should be available to everyone within the school district. d. Adult programs should serve agribusiness owners and employees. e. Adults really want additional information about agricultural subjects. f. A comprehensive high school's main responsibility is to students in grades nine to twelve. g. Adult programs in agriculture should try to serve the non-agriculture public. h. When adults have educational needs, it is the school's responsibility to meet those needs with an educational program. i. Adult programs should be offered by every comprehensive high school offering vocational agriculture. j. Adult programs should be geared toward retraining the unemployed for agricultural occupations. k. Adult programs should be sole the responsibility of the Ohio Cooperative Extension Service Note. (a): very strongly disagree (1), strongly disagree (2), disagree (3), agree (4), strongly agree (5), and very strongly agree (6), (b): Scaling of negatively stated items was reversed. Table 2: Agriculture Teachers Attitudes Toward Funding of the Program Item Statement Mean SD a. Adult programs should be self-supporting and use no local tax dollars. (reversed) b. All consumable supplies that are used in the adult program should be purchased by the adults. c. The U.S. has a free educational system and that right extends to adults. d. Adult students should pay a fee to cover all costs of the educational program. e. State and national funding for adult agricultural programs is adequate

6 Table 3: Agriculture Teachers Attitudes Toward Operation of the Program Item Statement Mean SD a. The use of school facilities for adult programs during hours that school is not in session is acceptable. b. Adult programs should be operated with the assistance of an agricultural advisory committee. c. Adult programs should be intensive, in-depth educational programs if adults are to benefit from them. d. The administrative duties inherent with adult programs make them unrealistically burdensome to the high school administrator.(reversed) e. Current agriculture instructors do not want to teach adult programs. (reversed) f. The Ohio State Department of Education personnel encourages the conduct of adult programs. g. The use of school facilities during regular school hours for adult programs is acceptable. h. Adult programs should be conducted by someone other than the high school agriculture instructor. i. Agriculture instructors do not have the time to teach adult programs. (reversed) Table 4: Agriculture Teachers Attitudes Toward Benefits of the Program Item Statement Mean SD a. Having adult programs in the school improves the community s attitude toward the school. b. Adult programs provide excellent public relations for schools. c. Adults, who have participated in adult programs, become strong school supporters. d. Adult programs can have an observable impact on local agricultural practices. e. Adult programs produce no financial benefit for the students. (reversed) f. In an election year, an adult class will have a positive effect on any school issue that is on the ballot. g. Agricultural education instructors become better teachers after they have taught adult programs

7 Table 5: Agriculture Teachers Attitudes Toward Adult Organization Item Statement Mean SD 1. Organizations like the Ohio Young Farmers Associations are of little benefit to the school system. (reversed) 2. Organizations like the Ohio Young Farmers Associations are of great benefit to the adult student. Grand (All Domains) Mean Judged from teachers written comments, the teachers had a hard time managing an adult program due to lack of rewards and resources, such as funding and enrollments, even if they saw the program as being beneficial. Here are some of teachers written comments: The purpose of my young farmer and adult education program is to inform graduates or present new technologies in agricultures and to use them as my advisory committee and to keep them informed about agriculture and school happenings so they will support the school system and assist the agricultural program when needed and Adult education is very important in communities, unfortunately many were never started and now it is very hard to get them going with school finances. State staff are not as visible and state mandates are gone. Money comes first -- then education. Conclusions/Educational Importance Based on the findings, implications of this study are as follows: 1. Teachers are in favor of offering adult programs, although not many schools currently had an adult program. In this respect, state and local policymakers should encourage and support the offering of adult programs in the comprehensive high schools in the belief that adult agricultural education still has an important role. 2. According to demographic data, a majority of the teachers had taken no coursework in adult education in college even though 95% of the teachers possessed a B.S. Degree or above. Over one-half of the teachers had no in-service training in adult education. In that connection, university teacher educators should offer or extend adult agricultural education courses for future agriculture teachers in the undergraduate and graduate level. In-service training, such as workshops or seminars, should be provided to upgrade pedagogy for adult education. Furthermore, in order to keep up with technological advancement and rapidly changing agricultural environments, teachers should have the ability to meet adults needs. 3. Teachers could not find the time to conduct adult programs even if they had the will. They also indicated it is stressful for the family life of the agriculture teacher. State and local policymakers should consider allowing the teachers, who teach adults, to have the time for adult programs or additional agriculture instructors should be hired. 4. Another barrier for implementing adult programs is funding. Teachers mentality of money comes first and then education and the differing views toward funding of the programs between administrators and teachers might be the problem for enhancing further adult agricultural education. From the international viewpoint, this study implies some educational importance. Being from Korea, where there are no adult agricultural education programs in vocational 202

8 agriculture high schools, it is a meaningful topic. What is more, the decreasing enrollment of students who go to vocational agriculture high schools or who want to take agricultural programs in the high schools is an important concern around the world. In this sense, to offer adult agriculture education programs will be a great challenge for vocational agriculture high schools if the need for adult agricultural education programs exists. References Agricultural Education Service. (2000) Ohio Agricultural Education Directory. Columbus, OH: Ohio Department of Education, Office of Career-Technical and Adult Education. Chizari, M., & Taylor, W. N. (1991). Agriculture teachers perceptions of adult education programs: An examination of critical educational needs, obstacles faced, and support needed. Journal of Agricultural Education, 32(2), Christmas, O. L., & Warmbrod, J. R. (1988). Factors influencing the occurrence of adult agricultural education programs. Paper presented at the Central States Annual Research Conference in Agricultural Education. (42 nd, Chicago, IL, February 21-22). Cochran, W. C. (1963). Sampling techniques(second edition). New York: John Wiley and Sons. Dillman, D. A. (2000). Mail and internet surveys. New York: John Wiley and Sons. ranklin, E. A., & White, J. D. (1999). The future: Adult education in secondary agriculture programs. Agricultural Education Magazine, 72(2), McCracken, J. D. (1992). Educating agriculturists: New wineskins for new wine. Diamond Anniversary Lecture Series. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University, Department of Agricultural Education. Miller, L. E. (1981). Adoping the stepchild. Agricultural Education Magazine, 53(12), 4. Miller, L. E., & Krill, T. L. (1985). Attitudes of superintendents of Ohio comprehensive high schools toward adult programs. Journal of the American Association of Teacher Educators in Agriculture, 26(4), 2-8. Miller, L. E., & Smith, K. L. (1983, September/October). Handling non-response issues. Journal of Extension, Migler, J. (1999). Is public school adult education in agriculture needed in the 21 st century? Agricultural Education Magazine, 72(2), 2. Riley, J. (1999). Adult agriculture education: Not a matter of need but who will provide it? Agricultural Education Magazine, 72(2), 6-7. Zidan, M. (1999). Adult education in agriculture: An old timer s dream? Agricultural Education Magazine, 72(2),

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