Date of this Version
Laboratory learning has long been associated with the educational process. The use of school and community laboratories in which students “learn by doing” is an integral part of agricultural education programs (Sutphin, 1984). Effective scheduling and management of the agricultural mechanics laboratory is a must for carrying out an effective instructional program (Shinn, 1987; Bear & Hoemer, 1986). The ability to manage laboratory learning was rated as a highly important ability for agriculture teachers by first-year agriculture teachers (Barrick and Powell, 1986). Agriculture instructors must be prepared so they possess and practice laboratory management competencies in order to maximize the opportunity for student learning (Henderson, 1983). Johnson and Schumacher (1989) defied laboratory management competencies as those abilities needed by secondary agriculture teachers to direct, conduct, or administer an agricultural mechanics laboratory. Hoerner and Bekkum (1990) reported that agriculture instructors in seven selected states taught an average of two agricultural mechanics classes per semester. Schlautman and Foster (1991) indicated that secondary agricultural education teachers in Nebraska devoted 29.6 percent of their time to agricultural mechanics instruction. Many agriculture courses allot one-third to two-thirds of the total instructional time to individual and group laboratory activities (Shinn, 1987). The large percentage of instructional time spent in laboratory settings suggests the need for sound laboratory management practices. Johnson et. al. (1990) found that Missouri secondary agriculture teachers have in-service needs in the area of agricultural mechanics laboratory management. The greatest in-service needs were in the area of safety. Johnson et. al. suggested research be conducted to identify a core of common laboratory management competencies essential to all phases of laboratory instruction. Johnson and Schumacher (1989) surveyed post-secondary, college and university agricultural mechanics experts to identify and prioritize a list of 50 laboratory management competencies which the experts perceived as important in order to effectively manage a secondary school agriculture mechanics laboratory. The authors concluded that teacher educators should provide present and prospective agriculture teachers experiences designed to develop and enhance these skills. They also stated that further research should be conducted to determine the extent to which agriculture teachers possess and practice these laboratory management competencies. This study was conducted in response to their call for further research.