Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Blended Teaching in School-based Agriculture Education: An Exploration of Teacher Beliefs and Practices Public Deposited

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  • The purpose of this study was to explore the lived experiences of school-based agriculture education (SBAE) teachers who self-identified as blended pedagogues. This study specifically focused on SBAE teachers' beliefs and how those beliefs influence their blended teaching classroom practice. Teacher beliefs are personal, subjective, and temporally and contextually stable. Previous literature indicates that classroom practices related to pedagogy and technology adoption and integration – both key components of blended teaching – are impacted by teachers’ beliefs. Additionally, beliefs act as amplifiers or filters that allow teachers to accept, modify, or reject new knowledge or skills that challenge their existing beliefs. This exploration utilized a hermeneutic phenomenological research design while relying on the consensus model of teacher knowledge and skills, theoretical research on teacher beliefs, and learning theory to illuminate the blended teaching experiences of agriculture teachers. The participants in this study included five in-service agriculture education teachers representing four states in the United States. These participants were either identified by post-secondary agriculture education teacher educators or were identified through a state database of SBAE teachers. All self-identified as agricultural teachers that practiced blended teaching. The findings of this study indicate that although all the agriculture teachers in this study shared the experience of being a blended teacher, they each took unique paths to becoming a blended pedagogue, and each had contextual support that assisted them on their blended journey. Likewise, each agriculture teacher proposed a unique definition of blended learning, reinforcing the lack of a shared definition among scholars and practitioners. Additionally, the study concluded that the beliefs agriculture teachers hold influence their blended teaching classroom practices. Teachers generally believed that learner-centered practices such as personalized learning, student choice, and meeting students’ needs were important. They also believed the technology associated with blended teaching provided students the opportunity to explore agriculture beyond the classroom and developing information literacy skills were a critical necessity. The nature of agricultural education impacted how teachers believed blended teaching should be practiced as many participants indicated that blended teaching conflicts with the ‘hands-on’ nature of agricultural education. Although there is little literature about blended teaching and learning in SBAE, the study can act as a starting point for future conversations and research about agriculture teacher beliefs and practices, blended teaching and learning in SBAE, and the supports that teacher preparation programs, professional development, administrators, and other stakeholders can provide SBAE teachers seeking to adopt and implement blended teaching and learning.
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