Professional development with an emphasis on barriers, motivation, and attitudes regarding teaching biotechnology concepts
The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the role of agriculture education in providing instruction on concepts of biotechnology in a manner that helps students to focus on the science behind the process. This study examines the factors that influence educators understanding of biotechnology, and their willingness to provide instruction on concepts surrounding aspects of biotechnology. This study encompassed 4 specific objectives. 1) Describe the breadth of professional development activities in biotechnology education. 2) Describe demographic characteristics and experiences of agricultural educators, as it pertains to their comfort level in presenting agricultural biotechnology topics in the classroom. 3) Identify current biotechnology professional development efforts utilized to stimulate long term use of biotechnology curriculum. 4) Identify motivation for teachers to include biotechnology curriculum into the classroom.
Objective one is explored within Chapter 3, which provides an extensive literature review, exploring definitions and history of biotechnology, as well as describing the role of education and the diffusion of innovation. In this, Chapter 3 looks at professional development experiences and resources available in the area of biotechnology.
Chapter 4 explored teachers’ confidence level in teaching biotechnology concepts, the professional development activities, as well as motivation and perceived barriers to teaching the concepts. The Chapter explored the demographic information of the agricultural educators (n = 74) in the study, including discussing the examples of professional development opportunities the educators participated in and the resources they utilized in the classroom. This chapter addresses the research objectives two and three.
The fifth chapter focuses on a snapshot of agricultural science teachers (n = 12) whom have participated in either a National Association of Agricultural Educators (NAAE) or National FFA Teacher Workshop or have had students participating in a state-level Biotechnology Career Development Event (CDE). The teachers in the study came from 8 different states and all provided instruction in agriculture on the secondary level.
Chapter 5 examines the third and fourth research objectives, with an article providing descriptive information on educator’s background teaching biotechnology education, professional development experiences within biotechnology, and motivations and perceived barriers to the inclusion of biotechnology concepts within their curriculum. Chapter six includes the dissertation’s general conclusions and recommendations from the research.
Overall, this study provides agricultural groups, including state associations, those involved in the creation of both professional development experiences and curriculum, a snapshot of the needs of agricultural science teachers, as well as an understanding of their motivations and perceived barriers in presenting biotechnology concepts to secondary students.