Jones, S., Doss, W., & Rayfield, J. (2020). Examining the status of middle school agricultural education programs in the United States. Journal of Agricultural Education, 61(2), 41-56. https://doi.org/10.5032/jae.2020.02041
Recent policy reports have demanded more effective education resources to support workforce needs and address deficiencies in STEM and agricultural literacy among U.S. citizens. This research assessed an educational program for secondary students contextualizing STEM education within poultry science. We designed seven 30-minute online modules to be integrated into existing agriculture and biology courses. Module content included basic hen management and welfare principles presented through text, videos, and interactive games. Participants were 499 students in 23 classrooms who used the modules in the Fall 2018 semester and served as a single treatment group in a mixed-methods study assessing program effectiveness. After the program, students completed an online questionnaire assessing motivation during the program. In addition, students completed ten 1-point content questions before and after the first six modules. Following the program, teachers responded to open-ended prompts. After excluding incomplete entries, data were analyzed from 169 student responses matched from pre- to post-questionnaire (34.1%) and 9 teacher respondents (56.2%). For each of the six content quizzes, significant increases in students’ knowledge were observed after completing the modules. Students reported low to moderate interest and enjoyment in the modules and moderate perceived autonomy. Qualitative responses from both students and teachers indicated that the program’s contextualization of STEM and interactive features enhanced student learning and interest.