Smith, K. L. & Rayfield, J. (2017). A quasi-experimental examination: cognitive sequencing of instruction using experimental learning theory for STEM concepts in agricultural education. Journal of Agricultural Education, 58(4) 175-191.


Understanding methods for effectively instructing STEM education concepts is essential in the current climate of education (Freeman, Marginson, & Tyler 2014).  Kolb’s experiential learning theory (ELT) outlines four specific modes of learning, based on preferences for grasping and transforming information.  This quasi-experimental study was conducted to test the effect of cognitive sequencing of instruction in the dimension of grasping information through ELT.  Two units of STEM-enhanced instruction were develop, each with two separate sequences; one with concepts presented beginning with a concrete experience and moving to an abstract conceptualization and the other in the opposite sequence.  Introductory agricultural science courses in four Texas high schools were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups (n = 121). This experiment utilized a crossover design to allow each student to experience both cognitive sequences (Shadish, Cook, & Campbell, 2002).  This portion of a larger study examined the independent variables of cognitive sequence of instruction and student preference for grasping information in relation to the dependent variables of student change score from pretest to posttest for both units of instruction. Findings indicated significant interactions on both units of instruction between student preference for grasping information and cognitive sequence of instruction.

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