Natural Resources, School of


Date of this Version



Brandt, M. (2016). Exploring elementary students’ agricultural and scientific knowledge using evidence centered design.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Applied Science, Major: Applied Science, Under the Supervision of Professor Cory Forbes. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2016

Copyright © 2016 Molly Rose Brandt


The public is more disconnected from agriculture than ever. Americans are two to four generations removed from the farm, and a majority of Americans, even in rural agricultural states have no direct link to agriculture. As a result, the public lacks the knowledge and appreciation of the food, fuel, and fiber it demands. The National Center for Agricultural Literacy (NCAL) uses National Agricultural Learning Objectives (NALOs) to measure student’s agricultural knowledge. The purpose of this project is to develop assessments aligned with the NALOs and to use results from the assessments to further understand students’ agricultural literacy. This study focuses on the NALOs in the areas of agriculture and the environment (AgE) and the STEM dimensions of agriculture (STEM) for third through fifth grade students. No research has been conducted to analyze the NALOs. This study uses a sequential exploratory mixed methods design. Thirty-five students participated in semi-structured interviews surrounding the NALOs. Interview data was coded and analyzed while using the evidence-centered design process to create empirically grounded assessment tests that were administered to four hundred students across a single Midwestern state in the United States. Results suggest that students are more knowledgeable about the STEM dimensions of agriculture than the agricultural and environmental topics. Results indicated that fifth grade students possessed the greatest level of agricultural literacy. Recommendations are provided to improve future work with the NALOs.

Advisor: Cory Forbes