Date of Award:

8-2019

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Education

Advisor/Chair:

Brian K. Warnick

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Max L. Longhurst

Third Advisor:

Courtney D. Stewart

Abstract

This study was conducted to develop a standardized agricultural literacy assessment using the National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes (NALOs) as benchmarks. The need for such an assessment was born out of previous research, which found that despite numerous programs dedicated to improving agricultural literacy, many students and adults remain at low or very low levels of literacy. Low literacy levels lead to negative associations with the production and processing of food, clothing, and shelter, as well as misinformed public perceptions and policies. Agricultural literacy researchers recognized that the development of a standardized assessment for post-12th grade, or equivalent, could unify both research and program development efforts.

The assessment was developed by forming two groups of experts. Teaching experts and agricultural content experts worked together in an iterative process. They crafted 45 questions using research methods and models. The 45 items were placed in an online survey to be tested for validity by a participant group. During the Fall 2018 semester, 515 Utah State University students between the ages of 18-23 years old participated in the online assessment. The participant data assisted in determining which questions were valid and reliable for determining agricultural literacy, as aligned to the NALO standards. Additional demographic information was also collected from participants. The demographic items asked students to self-report their level of exposure to agriculture and their self-perceived level of agricultural literacy.

The study concluded that two separate 15-item Judd-Murray Agricultural Literacy Instruments (JMALI) were valid and reliable for determining agricultural proficiency levels based on the NALOs. Participant scores were reported as a single proficiency stage: exposure, factual literacy, or applicable proficiency. The study also determined that students who had a “great deal” or higher level of exposure to agriculture also had a strong, positive correlation with a “good” or higher level of agricultural literacy. Findings show participants who reported a “good” level of agricultural literacy shared a positive correlation with either performing at a factual literacy (middle) or applicable proficiency (highest) level on the assessment.

The results suggest JMALI instruments have the potential to assist in improving current agricultural education endeavors by providing a critical tool for determining the agricultural literacy proficiency stages of adult populations.

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