Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education

Department name when degree awarded

Applied Science Technology & Education

Committee Chair(s)

Tyson J. Sorensen


Tyson J. Sorensen


Rebecca G. Lawver


Debra M. Spielmaker


Brian K. Warnick


Andrea M. Hawkman


Socioscientific issues (SSI) are complex issues which are scientific in nature and have societal impacts. Many SSI have connections to agriculture and as such should be included in agricultural education curriculum. A clear understanding of what school-based agricultural education (SBAE) teachers know about SSI is needed. The purpose of this research was to explore the knowledge and integration of SSI among SBAE teachers by describing and explaining the factors that influence integration. This quantitative survey research was guided by the SSI-based instruction framework and the three-component model of agricultural education. The population for this study was all SBAE teachers in the U.S. and U.S. territories during the 2019-2020 school year. Participants could choose between an online or a paper and pencil version of the survey. A total of 136 SBAE teachers participated in the research.

School-based agricultural education teachers’ self-efficacy related to SSI, their perceived need to teach SSI and barriers to teaching SSI were explored. Survey responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics, ordinary least squares regression, and logistic regression. Findings suggest SBAE teacher self-efficacy was a significant predictor of overall SSI integration as well as the integration of climate issues, ecosystem and biodiversity, energy, food security, human population, and natural resource issues. Respondents agreed that SSI are needed in agricultural education but time to develop curriculum and integrate SSI is a barrier. Overall SBAE teachers felt supported by their administration and communities. The most taught SSI by respondents were natural resource, sustainability, and water issues; and the least taught SSI were energy, climate, and ecosystem and biodiversity issues. Although respondents indicated they were teaching SSI in their classes, the research results suggest that many were not using learning experiences aligned with the SSI-based instruction framework.

Recommendations included integration of SSI and the SSI-based instruction framework in both pre-service agricultural teacher preparation programs and in-service teacher professional development. Aligning state and national agricultural education standards to include SSI is also recommended. Further research should be conducted to explore SBAE teachers’ knowledge of SSI, how they are integrating SSI in their classes and what resources and teaching strategies they are using.