Wells, T., Smalley, S. W., & Rank, B. D. (2018). Early field experience course students’ perceptions of school-based agricultural education laboratory environments. Journal of Agricultural Education, 59(3), 243-257 https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2018.03243


Laboratory instruction is an important component of school-based agricultural education (SBAE) programs (Phipps, Osborne, Dyer, & Ball, 2008). Early field experience (EFE) coursework can be an important component of agricultural teacher preparation programs (Retallick & Miller, 2007). Through the use of a modified photovoice technique, we sought to identify the perceptions of students (i.e., preservice teachers) enrolled in an EFE course in relation to the laboratory environment component of the SBAE model. Students enrolled in a 40-hour EFE course photographed a laboratory environment at their placement site and completed a 250-word descriptive/reflective summary of the laboratory. Through open coding of the summaries, three prominent themes emerged: 1) project-based learning is widely used for instructional purposes; 2) laboratory environments are set up and arranged in particular fashions based on needs; and 3) laboratory environments are arranged as settings for effective learning. Within the photographs, the agricultural mechanics laboratory was most commonly identified as a laboratory environment. The EFE students identified laboratory environments are not always traditional in their scope, and classrooms can serve as laboratory environments. We recommend photovoice be further used as a tool to explore students’ perceptions of the realities of modern SBAE programs.

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