Baldock, K., & Pesl Murphrey, T. (2020). Secondary Students’ Perceptions of Inquiry-based Learning in the Agriculture Classroom. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(1), 235-246. doi: 10.5032/jae.2020.01235
Inquiry-based learning supports constructivism theory and has been used by both Comenius (1592- 1670) and Dewey (1859-1952) in early educational settings. Incorporating inquiry-based instruction into the agriculture classroom, while beneficial, brings with it challenges for teachers and learners. Numerous studies have been conducted to examine teachers’ perceptions of inquiry-based instruction and its benefits. However, limited research has investigated agriculture students’ perceptions about inquiry-based learning on their educational growth. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of secondary students transitioning to and using inquiry-based instruction in their agriculture classes. A phenomenological approach was employed to examine the lived experiences of secondary agriculture students’ who had utilized inquiry-based instruction. The phenomenon under investigation was inquiry-based instruction. We conducted qualitative interviews with a convenience sample of 24 secondary agriculture students to explore their perceptions of the inquiry approach. Findings revealed students describe inquiry as “hands on,” a method requiring they work by themselves, and activities involving questions. Students indicated a preference for inquiry-based learning opportunities and expressed awareness of the potential for inquiry-based learning opportunities to improve their critical thinking skills. Documentation of secondary students’ perceptions about inquiry-based learning opportunities provide instructors insight to guide instruction within the agriculture classroom.