Preparing pre-service agricultural education teachers to teach agricultural mechanics: Are we doing enough?
Keywords:agricultural mechanics, laboratory, pre-service, teacher education, preparation
Agricultural mechanics is a technical skill area that poses numerous challenges for teacher preparation programs due to safety, time needed to learn technical skills, and credit hour requirements. The skills required to manage a laboratory are crucial for instructors of agricultural mechanics curriculum. Agricultural mechanics is a popular course in secondary schools, but studies found that pre-service teachers were ill-equipped to teach the courses effectively. Determining the level of readiness of graduates of teacher preparation programs to teach agricultural mechanics was the purpose of this study. Certifying institutions for agricultural education teachers across the nation comprised our target population. A questionnaire was used to collect data for this study, resulting in 48% response rate (n = 52). Of the nine agricultural mechanics curriculum content areas most teachers reported they had five in their state curriculum. The nine content areas were determined to be “Important” by the teachers in this study. Hand/Power Tools (M = 3.69) was the only content area that institutions ranked their graduates as “Prepared” to teach. The remaining content areas were ranked as “Somewhat” or “Poorly” prepared. Most institutions stated that they required at least one course in agricultural mechanics in their program, with the average requirement being five to eight hours. It can be concluded that agricultural mechanics course requirements have decreased since 2005, even though the content is heavily taught at the secondary level. This study has shown that we must re-evaluate how we prepare students to be competent to teach agricultural mechanics.