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AN EXAMINATION OF SELECTED PRESERVICE AGRICULTURALTEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN THE UNITED STATESRobin C. McLean, Agricultural Education TeacherPenns Grove High SchoolWilliam G. Camp, Professor, Agricultural EducationVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityAbstractThe researchers surveyed department heads of purposefully selected agricultural teacher educationprograms to determine the curricular structure of agricultural teacher education in the United States.Nominations ofprograms to examine were sought from members of the profession.Graduation checklistsand course syllabi for all professional agricultural education courses were analyzed. The authorsconcluded that programs vary greatly across the country.Courses on teaching methods and program andcurriculum planning are generally available.Separate courses on serving as FFA advisors or in managingSupervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) programs are offered in only a few of the selected institutions.FFA was listed as a topic in 9 of the 10 institutions. SAE, or an equivalent topic was listed in all of theinstitutions studied.The authors offer a potential composite structure based on the programs studied.IntroductionAgricultural teacher educators haveexperienced significant pressure over the past 15years to reform the process by which the teachersare prepared in the profession. Many of thosepressures have been external to the profession, butstrong calls for change have come from withinagricultural education as well. Reports from anumber of major national organizations haveimpacted very directly on the general teachereducation reform movement, in which agriculturalteacher education, as a member of the largereducation family, finds itself embroiled:First came criticism of public education ingeneral. A Nation at Risk (United States NationalCommission on Excellence in Education, 1984)was the first of a series of national reports thatcalled for fundamental changes in Americaneducation.Teacher education next came under fire.Aseries of reports by the Holmes Group (Griggs,Jones, and Slocum, 1988), looked at teachereducation within the context of the Nation at Riskreforms, and recommended a number offundamental changes in the process by whichteachers are prepared in this country.Vocational education was later tasked tohelp address the problems of American Education.The Secretary’s Commission on AchievingNecessary Skills (SCANS) Report (United StatesDepartment of Labor, 1991) identified basiccompetencies needed by Americans to meet theneeds of the internationally competitive workforceof the future.notice that change was needed. The NationalAgricultural education also was put onAcademy of Science Committee on AgriculturalEducation in the Secondary Schools report,Understanding Agriculture: New Directions forEducation (1988) examined agricultural educationin this country, found it lacking, and recommendedfundamental changes both in public schoolprograms and in agricultural teacher education.Journal of Agricultural Education 25 Vol. 41 Issue 2, 2000More recently, the National Commission ofTeaching and America’s Future (1996) issued a report entitled, What matters most: Teaching andAmerica’s future, in an effort to provide nationalleadership toward improving and empowering thenation’s teaching force.Currently, the National Board forProfessional Teaching Standards (1996) is in theprocess of developing standards that can applytoward National Board Certification for vocationalteachers. Although these standards will apply toso-called “accomplished teachers,” they certainlywill have implications for preservice teacherpreparation programs in agricultural teachereducation.Conceptual FrameworkChanges in vocational teacher educationhave been influenced not only by studies andreports (e.g. Lynch, 1997) issued in regards to thearea, but also by shifts in demographics, theworkforce, and economics (Pratzner, 1988). Withthese changes occurring, it is difficult to establisha common basis for vocational teacher education(Lynch, 1991). In addition to the challenges ofreform, a recent trend in vocational teachereducation has been the downsizing of departmentsand colleges and reduced funding, making indifficult for agricultural teacher educators to keepabreast of structural and programmatic changesthat are actually taking place within the profession(Moss, 1992).Lynch, Schmidt, and Asche (1988) soughtto prioritize the research needs for vocationalteacher education. They found that one of themajor categories of research needs was to establishthe competencies, content, and instructionalmethods for vocational teacher education. Theywent on to indicate that one of the priorities forresearch was to examine teacher educationstructure and curriculum.Journal of Agricultural Education 26Thus, teacher education as a whole isunder pressure to reform. Within that framework,demands are being placed on vocational teachereducation to change. Extending that trend,agricultural teacher education is under pressure tochange. We would ignore such external pressuresonly at serious risk to the viability of ourprofession. An Ad Hoc committee of theAmerican Association for Agricultural Education(Herring, 1992) described the administrativestructure of agricultural teacher educationprograms. It described an ongoing trend towarddownsizing of agricultural teacher educationprograms. The study also described a trendtoward restructuring of the emphasis away fromteacher preparation as the sole enterprise oftraditional agricultural teacher education programsand toward expanded missions. Along that line ofresearch, the study went on to describe the reformand reorganization efforts of three institutions: theUniversity of Florida, Texas Tech, and theUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln. Finally, the studyprovided an overview of a conceptualreorganization of agricultural teacher educationprograms.The earliest comprehensive model foragricultural teacher education was promulgated bythe Federal Board for Vocational Education(1924). That document provided a recommendedcurricular framework and program structure forthe profession that affected the development of anation-wide system of teacher education foragriculture. The next major attempt at developinga model for teacher education in agriculture camein the form of a major book compiled and editedby Art Berkey (1967) on behalf of the AmericanAssociation for Teacher Educators in Agriculture(AATEA), known today as the


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