Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Exploring How Alternatively Certified Agriculture Teachers Acquire Practices and Participate in a Community of Practice: A Hermeneutic Phenomenology Public Deposited

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  • The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the lived experience of alternatively certified agriculture teachers, acquire the practices of agriculture teachers, and participate in the agriculture teacher community of practice. The study was grounded in an interpretivist approach, which provided an alterantive perspective to the positistic-like research centering on alternative certification within school-based agricultural education (SBAE). Prior literature in SBAE focused on alternatively certified agriculture teachers through a positivistic lens, which limited the illumination of the experiences of this population of teachers to inform the profession. Along with interpretivist underpinnings and phenomenological approach to this study, the use of Communities of Practice, a social learning theory, provided a framework to understand how alternatively certified agriculture teachers acquire the practices and participate in it the agriculture teacher community of practice. The participants in this study were recommended and self-identified as alternatively certified agriculture teachers. For this study, alternative certified teachers were defined as individuals who had not been certified through a traditional teacher preparation program in SBAE and/or held an alternative certification to teach. Participants engaged in approximately one-hour long interviews to share their experiences. Data for this study included interview transcripts, field notes, and analytic memos. The findings of this study highlighted the mixed backgrounds of the participants which influenced how they made meaning as they became acquainted with the agriculture teacher community. For this study, we are taking up the assumption that agriculture teachers learn within a community of practice due to prior research indicating the presence of joint enterprise, mutual engagement, and shared repertoire as espoused by Wenger (1998). As the teachers in this study began their careers in the agriculture classrooms, they were persistent as they worked out the practices of agriculture teachers. A vital tenet of the agriculture teacher community was support, both of students and other agriculture teachers. Other agriculture teachers served as connectors or brokers to the agriculture teacher community of practice, which led to finding an entire community of supporters. Participants noted the importance of the agriculture teacher community supporting each other and acting like a “family” to see each other succeed in their roles. A sense of belonging in the agriculture teacher community of practice for participants was dependent on similar values. Tensions were identified within the community of practice due to differing views on agriculture and the reputation of SBAE espoused by many members of the community. The findings provide crucial insight into the lived experience and social learning of alternatively certified agriculture teachers.
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