Jones, M. C., & Edwards, M. C. (2019). Competition as an instructional approach in school-based, agricultural education (SBAE): A historical review. Journal of Agricultural Education, 60(1), 109-128.


The purpose of this study was to examine and describe the historical role of competition as an instructional approach in SBAE. Pragmatism was found to be the philosophical underpinning of competition in SBAE, and the influences of William James and John Dewey were described. The growth of new National FFA contests was presaged by seminal legislative acts such as the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, the Vocational Education Act of 1963, and by educational reforms in the 1980s. We also identified and discussed the challenges associated with using competition as an instructional approach. Based on the profession’s longstanding concerns about competition at the expense of instruction, i.e., prizing winning over learning, it was recommended that SBAE’s stakeholders continue to examine the educational merits of its competitive activities to revise, alleviate, or add such as may be needed.

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