Factors of teacher beliefs related to integrating agriculture into elementary school classrooms
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Elementary students need authentic learning experiences with community-based topics to motivate them, help develop inquiry skills, apply academic content, and connect their learning beyond the context of the classroom. In particular, the study of food, agriculture, and natural resources in elementary classrooms can bring learning to life. Elementary teachers’ decisions to teach non-required topics are informed by their personal beliefs and contextual pressures to teach required content that is aligned with state learning standards. The purpose of this descriptive study is to explore the factors underlying elementary teachers’ beliefs related to the integration of food, agricultural, and natural resources (FANR) topics and activities into their classrooms. Multivariate analyses were conducted to identify factors and determine the relationship between teacher beliefs and behaviors. Two factors explained the extent teachers integrated FANR topics and activities into their classrooms: (1) if they agreed FANR topics fit in academic subjects, and (2) if they saw the educational value of integrating FANR topics and activities into the elementary school curricula. Teachers’ epistemological and motivational beliefs play a role when they consider adopting an enrichment program to integrate non-required topics into their elementary school classrooms. The findings suggest teachers’ perceptions of the educational benefits and fit within academic content areas are more important factors than their views and attitudes of the careers and industry connected to an enrichment program when teachers choose to adopt and integrate topics and activities that would enrich student learning in their classrooms.
KeywordsAgricultural literacy education Curriculum integration Enrichment programs Teacher beliefs and motivation
I wish to thank Bridget Arvold and Robert Martin for their suggestions on improving the manuscript. This material is based upon work supported in part by the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, US Department of Agriculture, under Project No. ILLU-793-331. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view of the US Department of Agriculture.
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