Influences of aspirations and expectations on contest performance at the National FFA Agricultural Mechanics Career Development Event, 2001-2006



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The purpose of this study was to examine how performance expectations influence contest performance at the National FFA Agricultural Mechanics Career Development Event. The population for this study included all participants at the national contest in the years 2001 through 2006 with a total response of 976 participants. Data were collected using a 20 item questionnaire administered after the contest. The questionnaire included questions to measure current educational status, aspired education and career, contest expectations, evaluations of contest relatedness to previous coursework and difficulty, preparation, and interest in agriculture and agricultural mechanics. Contest scores were used to quantify participant performance. Career Development Events are an important component to a complete FFA program used to enhance student learning. Expectations and aspirations may have an effect on student learning. Of the respondents, 61.7% had not graduated from high school. In addition, 86.4% planned to pursue education after high school, and 30.2% planned to pursue a career related to agricultural mechanics while another 40.4% planned to pursue a separate agriculturally related career. The mean response for expected individual finish was 55th place out of about 163 contestants, expected team finish was 15th place out of about 44 teams participating annually, and 43.1% expected to finish second on their team. The most statistically significant predictors of contest performance were expected individual and team finish. Participants who expected to perform better performed better. High education aspirations and career aspirations in agriculture also produced a significant influence on performance. The number of contests participated in before national contest, the relatedness of the contest to previous coursework, and the difficulty of the contest produced a significant direct influence on performance. The longer the participant has been in school and as the participant takes more agriculture courses, performance significantly increased. The interest of the participant in agriculture and agricultural mechanics positively influenced performance. Further research was proposed to specifically differentiate between aspirations and expectations, and measure performance aspirations and expectations before and after the contest. As agricultural science education moves toward a more multidisciplinary approach, it would be useful to determine how math and science courses influence performance.