Date

2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Teaching, Learning, and Technology

First Adviser

Bodzin, Alec M.

Other advisers/committee members

Hammond, Thomas C.; Garrigan, Scott R.; Sahagian, Dork

Abstract

Agriculture can serve as a unifying topic that connects science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects through similar knowledge, skills, and attitudes/beliefs (KSABs) exhibited in each. Agriculture can be an integral part of students’ curricula, providing authentic and relevant material for STEM exploration, and a multitude of initiatives now address the need for increased STEM and agricultural literacy nationwide. This study took place in a large urban school district in the northeastern U.S. using an iPad-enhanced, standards-aligned, project-based, and fully STEM integrated agricultural literacy curriculum module and assessment materials in fourth grade classrooms. Ninety-five students and four fourth grade teachers were a part of the study that sought to 1) add to the existing knowledge about the nature of upper-elementary urban students’ agricultural literacy, 2) create a fully STEM integrated agricultural literacy module that educators can easily merge into existing curricula to increase literacy in agriculture and STEM fields, and 3) test the efficacy of that module. The module included valid and reliable pre- and posttest knowledge and attitudes instruments and eight project-based performance tasks designed to help students prepare for a farmers’ market. The findings revealed that students in the treatment group gained knowledge and had more positive attitudes/beliefs following the curriculum’s implementation. Implications for integrating agriculture into STEM curricula are discussed along with AgLIT’s impact on curriculum reform initiatives’ call for fully integrated curricula, the agricultural literacy of U.S. elementary students, and the use of project-based learning and educational technology in curricular redesign.

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