Volume 48 - Number 4 - 2007 | DOI: 10.5032/jae.2007.04020
The purpose of this study was to describe the means by which early field experience (EFE) is implemented within the context of agricultural teacher education. A content analysis using course documents obtained directly from each program's teacher education coordinator was determined to be the most appropriate method to accomplish the purpose and objectives of this study. Thirty-eight of the 82 agricultural teacher education programs responded by providing 57 unique, usable EFE documents. The study found that the most common purposes articulated in these documents were career exploration and observation. Secondary purposes of EFE were instruction and assisting in the classroom. The primary activities to achieve the purposes of EFE were observation, practice teaching, and reflection. A major finding of this study was that over three-fourths of the programs refer to observation as both a purpose and an activity. It is recommended that teacher education programs develop EFE programs that go beyond exploration and, using the established professional EFE standards, require more than non-academic, procedural-based activities. Programs could benefit from the development of EFE programs into a sound educational component focused on the application of professional and pedagogical knowledge and the development of critical reflection and higher-order thinking skills.