Date of Award:
Master of Science (MS)
Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education
Michigan’s Food, Agriculture, and Resources in Motion (FARM) Science Lab is a 40-foot mobile classroom outfitted with 10 learning stations including scientific equipment and iPads. This quasi-experimental study analyzed preexisting data provided by Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom to evaluate the effectiveness of the FARM Science Lab mobile classroom as a method of teaching agriculture-themed, standards-based lessons to third- through fifth-grade students in order to increase their understanding of agriculture. From January through June 2018, more than 1,258 students participated in these lessons and completed the pretest and posttest and 72 teachers completed the post survey. Research questions not only addressed student learning but also teacher’s perceptions of the mobile classroom program and measured differences between rural, suburban and urban student populations.
Four lessons were offered to students in third through fifth grade during the time of this study. Each lesson had a unique pretest and posttest provided to each school by Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom using Google Forms. Students and teachers participated in the agricultural lessons within existing classroom groups; therefore, this was not a random sample of either population. During the timeframe of this study, all sections of each grade level for each participating school were engaging in FARM Science Lab programming; therefore, no control groups were used in this research. The student and teacher data were analyzed using standard statistical tools including t-tests and Cohen’s d.Difficulty and item discrimination values provided more confidence in the reliability of the question as a measure of knowledge change after participation in the FARM Science Lab intervention.
Results indicated there were statistically significant differences in knowledge between pretest and posttest scores for nearly all grade level/lesson groups. Each individual question was analyzed for statistically significant change in addition to overall test scores. Some questions did not see statistically significant changes from pretest to posttest for each group. These results suggested the FARM Science Lab was making a difference in students’ agricultural understanding, at a basic knowledge level, after a short intervention. The assessment questions tested the recall of facts rather than an understanding of a whole concept about science or agriculture. Teacher surveys indicated the FARM Science lab did address appropriate educational standards for their respective grade levels. Teachers also believed agriculture could be very effectively used to contextualize science concepts. The final research question addressed differences in rural, suburban and urban student gains from pretest to posttest. The FARM Science Lab did not visit any urban schools during the time of this study. Of the grade/lesson groups which did have a rural and suburban population to compare, there were some differences in scores between students’ responses in each geographic location. These populations were small therefore these differences may not be generalized to the larger population.
Miller, Amelia J., "Evaluating Michigan's Food, Agriculture, and Resources in Motion (FARM) Science Lab as a Modality for Agricultural Literacy" (2019). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 7470.
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