Early field experiences in agricultural teacher education
The primary purpose of this dissertation was to describe the nature of early field experience (EFE) in agricultural teacher education programs nationally. The dissertation was divided into three papers. The first paper was a descriptive census study of all active agricultural teacher education programs (N=82). The results of the study provide a general profile of EFE in agricultural teacher education. EFE is a required component of teacher education and offered multiples times. The requirements include completing the experience within agricultural education, a minimum number of contact hours, and minimum number of lessons planned and taught. Placement restrictions and minimum qualifications for cooperating teachers are reported. Many of the similarities among EFE requirements seem to end at broad categorical levels. Most programs report having requirements; however, the means by which each program completes the requirements vary. The second paper described the implementation of EFE. A content analysis of documents (syllabi, handbooks, and forms) from 38 agricultural teacher education programs identified a lack of integration of theory and practice. EFE seemed to focus more on procedural activities and less on the development of critical thinking and reflection. The documents show that few programs define or articulate the intended interaction expected of those involved in the EFE. The third paper presents the Structure and Content of EFE Model, which consists of three primary components (foundation, organization, and implementation). The foundation for EFE is teacher education standards and conceptual framework. The organization of EFE consists of type of experiences, placement, and creation of EFE documents. The implementation addresses participant interaction, learning outcomes, and learning strategies. The model will be useful to teacher education as a framework for the development, reorganization, and evaluation of EFE programs.