Smith, K. L., & Rayfield, J. (2016). An early historical examination of the educational intent of Supervised Agricultural Experiences (SAEs) and project-based learning in agricultural education. Journal of Agricultural Education, 57(2), 146-160. doi: 10.5032/jae.2016.02146
Project-based learning has been a component of agricultural education since its inception. In light of the current call for additional emphasis of the Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) component of agricultural education, there is a need to revisit the roots of project-based learning. This early historical research study was conducted to examine the underlying educational intent for the use of the project method. The study was developed to determine the circumstances surrounding the origination of the method and the original intent for the project method, along with events which may have led to shifts in the purpose for integrating project-based learning in agricultural education. Findings substantiate the initiation of project-based learning in agricultural education with Rufus Stimson, who likely intended the method as a way to apply concepts learned in classes. Modern project-based learning has essentially shifted in intent and is now viewed as a method for students to acquire new knowledge and learn new concepts in agriculture as well as other academic areas. The historical examination of this topic allows for context with which SAE reform may be considered, and allows a more complete understanding of the factors behind the shift in intent for project-based learning both in classroom and SAEs.