Bradford, T., Hock, G., Greenhaw, L., & Kingery, W. (2019). Comparing experiential learning techniques and direct instruction on student knowledge of agriculture in private school students. Journal of Agricultural Education, 60(3), 80-96. doi:10.5032/jae.2019.03080
Currently, less than 3% of the U.S. population lives on a farm (Riedel, 2006). Technological advances and mechanization coupled with other societal factors, have led to the decline of an agriculturally literate population (Kovar & Ball, 2013). Blair (2009) identified one strategy for increasing agricultural literacy as implementing education that promotes agricultural activities via experience. This quantitative study was conducted at three private schools in Mississippi during the spring of 2015. The primary investigator (PI) taught six (6) lessons contextualized in agriculture to tenth grade students enrolled in advanced biology courses. The study consisted of a control group (no instruction), and two experimental groups; one received direct instruction only, and one was led through various experiences relevant to plant science and agricultural production with a high-tunnel greenhouse. Pre and post-tests assessed knowledge gain. Participants’ knowledge scores increased significantly among experimental groups (p < .001). Multivariate analysis revealed post-test scores between experimental groups were significantly different (p = .016). Further analysis of the data displayed that 67% of the variance in scores was attributed to method of instruction and a strong correlation existed between post-test scores and treatment group (R = .820).