Preparation to teach agricultural mechanics: a qualitative case study of expert agricultural science and technology teachers in Texas
Ford, Richard Kirby
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Since federal legislation in 1917 and the widespread program growth in the 1930?s, agricultural mechanics has been a major part of the high school agricultural science and technology curriculum. Local programs integrated individual problem -solving, practical applications of mathematics and technical science skills in to the curriculum. However, recent financial constraints and a perceived lack of interest have led to reductions in course offerings in agricultural mechanics in some universities that are responsible for the maintenance and future of the disciplinary area. These curricular issues gave rise to a research problem examining the perspectives of successful agricultural science and technology teachers of agricultural mechanics and the education and experiences that were associated with their success. This study used qualitative measures to identify factors that enabled certain agricultural science and technology teachers who were more noted in teaching of agricultural mechanics to be more successful than their peers. It examined factors that motivated teachers to excel and examined the influences that determined what portions of the curriculum were included or deleted. Finally, this study focused on the recommendations of experts regarding improvements for future teaching of high school agricultural mechanics. Data were collected, analyzed, and reported using accepted a qualitative protocol to develop emergent themes. Successful agricultural science and technology teachers agreed that their undergraduate course work did not adequately prepare them to teach the current curriculum. Unanimously, the respondents expressed a concern for the lack of depth, scope, and technical skills in agricultural mechanics currently being taught to future agricultural science teachers. This concern for the pre-service curriculum led teachers to agree that the three-week agricultural mechanics certification workshop is essential for successful instruction of agricultural mechanics. Furthermore, teachers espoused a formal mentoring program to aid the professional development of agricultural science and technology teachers. The respondents alluded to the need for more quality workshops on the part of the Texas Education Agency, the VATAT professional organization and the agricultural education community as a whole to improve the quality, scope, depth, and technical skills in the instruction of Agricultural Science and Technology in the high schools of Texas.