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Preparing Students for Careers in Agriculture: An Analysis of Secondary and Postsecondary Approaches to Work-Based Learning in the United States and Rwanda

Matthew Sterling Kreifels, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation investigates work-based learning as a method to prepare students for agricultural careers through three interconnected studies. The first two studies investigate secondary education programs in the United States, while the third study explores postsecondary education in Rwanda. In Study 1, a philosophical research approach explores how the new Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) approach, SAE for All, aligns five Foundational SAE components with learning theories and supports Career and Technical Education priorities. Study 2 utilizes a transcendental phenomenological approach to examine teacher perceptions of SAE for All's effectiveness for student career development. Study 3, a case study, analyzes how a Rwandan college adopted experiential and work-based learning to improve student learning and career preparation outcomes.Key findings include the Foundational SAE’s alignment to established theory and conceptual frameworks and provides a research-based foundation and addresses priorities in U.S.-based Career and Technical Education; SAE for All has been positively received by teachers who have implemented the program, but more support is needed for Immersion SAE implementation by all students; Rwanda seeks to integrate the development of practical skills, problem-solving, and entrepreneurship into postsecondary education; both the U.S. and Rwanda recognize the value of work-based learning but are at different stages of adoption; and common benefits exist like developing technical, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills and exploring careers, but specific challenges persist for implementation.Recommendations include developing and collecting more resources for teacher implementation of SAE for All; addressing Immersion SAE student participation levels; aligning programs using a Career Development Model; considering earlier opportunities for Rwandan student decision-making; and providing more professional development and planning time for faculty to implement experiential and work-based learning.Through a multi-study approach, this research provides a comprehensive understanding of work-based learning, including theoretical concepts and practical applications for educators. Using multiple angles to study work-based learning in these contexts provides avenues for future scholarship in experiential-based career development in agriculture.

Subject Area

Career and technical education|Secondary education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Kreifels, Matthew Sterling, "Preparing Students for Careers in Agriculture: An Analysis of Secondary and Postsecondary Approaches to Work-Based Learning in the United States and Rwanda" (2023). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI30812511.