Volume 42 - Number 1 - 2001 | DOI: 10.5032/jae.2001.01082
The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine the understandings of pest-related concepts by prospective elementary teachers. Guided by theoretical frameworks for science education and studies on agricultural literacy, a research protocol that included grounded theory and cognitive anthropology was used to surface respondents' understandings of three educational benchmarks for the concept of human management of crop growth. Data analysis included validating benchmarks and language that guided discourse, generating conceptual proposition maps, coding responses for comparison with expert propositions, and interpreting confirming or disconfirming patterns among informants. Out-of-school experiences were the strongest determinant of prospective teacher ability to engage in discourse that was compatible with experts. Informants held incomplete understanding of pest-related benchmarks as often indicated in their lack of ability to make connections between scientific, societal, and technological concepts. Informants lacked language to accurately articulate an understanding of the pest-related enchmarks. Most informants lacked understanding of the positive and negative impacts of pesticide use. The identification of agriculture as one of the eight basic technology areas for study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science underscores the need for cooperation between agricultural and science educators.