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A mixed methods study of behavioral changes based on a course in agroecology

Kristyn Marie Harms, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This study described and evaluated student perceptions of a course in the area of agroecology. Specifically, this study was designed to determine if participants experienced changed perceptions and behaviors resulting from the Agroecosystems Analysis Course. ^ Research questions were addressed via a triangulation validating quantitative data mixed methods approach, with a written survey comprised of both quantitative and open-ended questions serving as the evaluation document. Qualitative data garnered from the 2001-2007 Agroecosystems Analysis daily evaluations were also analyzed to locate and categorize central factors essential for the development of an experiential learning environment (N=140). ^ Study participants consisted of students and instructors who participated in Agroecosystems Analysis. A matched study design method was utilized, with matched subjects serving as the control group to assist in the formation of baseline comparisons (N=66). ^ Quantitative responses were collected and analyzed statistically using item analysis and ANCOVA. Qualitative responses were coded in accordance with grounded theory research practices. Although there was no significant difference between the responses of the course participants and the control group, five causal conditions were identified as playing a major role in creating an experiential environment more conducive to behavior change: hands-on experience, emotional response, human interaction, self-efficacy, and intensity of experience. These causal conditions formed the initial grounded theory model. ^ Based on the research conclusions, five additional causal conditions were added to create a more comprehensive, effective model for creating an agricultural environment more conducive to experiential learning: length of course, appropriateness and rigor of curriculum, learner-centered curriculum, ongoing education, and metacognitive processes. A revised grounded theory model was presented, and recommendations for future research were identified. ^

Subject Area

Agriculture, General|Education, Agricultural

Recommended Citation

Harms, Kristyn Marie, "A mixed methods study of behavioral changes based on a course in agroecology" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3310978.