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Delaware State University Summer AgriScience Institute

Investigators
Hofmann, Stacey
Institutions
Delaware State University
Start date
2009
End date
2011
Objective
For a small state, Delaware is home to a large number of agriscience companies. With approximately 50 percent of their employees retiring in the next 5 years, it is important to foster a learning environment that will create opportunities for students to want to be involved in science and research. By engaging students in agriscience learning opportunities at the secondary level and educating high school students about exceptional research opportunities for undergraduates and graduate level students through a Summer AgriScience Institute, Delaware State University, can help to keep Delaware's future in Delaware.

The first product will be the Delaware Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy, where 73 teachers from 40 schools will be trained to use inquiry-based learning to bring science concepts into the agriculture classroom. The Academy will meet the need to increase faculty teaching competencies which will be measured through the increase in their student's success on standardized tests, including the agriscience pathway completion exam. Appreciation of the Science, Engineering, and Technology - SET areas and careers will be measured with the students' survey answers. Medium term outcomes include attending college and choosing an agricultural major. Long-term outcomes include completing college and choosing a career in agriscience or SET field.

The second product will be the Delaware State University Summer AgriScience Institute, SASI, to be held in 2010, where 20 Delaware high school agriscience students will participate in class work and develop group study projects under the mentorship of Delaware State University researchers in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, Cooperative Extension, and the sciences across campus. Parents, teachers, administrators, faculty and private sector will also be reached through the poster session and symposium. Short-term outcomes include increased specialized SET skills, leadership skills, knowledge of agriscience at the post secondary level, and comprehension of careers in agriscience in Delaware. Medium-term outcomes are the same as for the Academy, along with the goal of increasing enrollment in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences at Delaware State University. Long-term outcomes include expanding the human capital with knowledge, skills and abilities present to lead productive lives, and increase in Delaware economic development in agriscience and biosciences.

The dissemination plans for the DSU-SASI shall be two-fold: through University efforts and through submissions to relevant journal archives. Upon evaluation of SASI, the publication will be disseminated to all 1890 Land Grant Institutions, via Cooperative Extension's Information Coordinator, to serve as a viable recruitment tool. The dissemination process will be associated with various formats including: magazines - FFA New Horizons, ACTE Techniques; newsletters- DSUpdate, College of Agriculture and Related Sciences; and journal articles including, but not limited to the Journal of Extension and the Journal of Agriculture Education Online, and National Association of Agricultural Educators.

More information
NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: For a small state, Delaware is home to a large number of agriscience and bioscience companies. With approximately 50 percent of their employees retiring in the next 5 years, it is important to foster a learning environment that will create opportunities for students to want to be involved in science and research. By engaging students in agriscience learning opportunities at the secondary level and educating high school students about exceptional research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate level students through a Summer AgriScience Institute, Delaware State University, can help to keep Delaware's future in Delaware. One of the recommendations made in the report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, RAGS, is to use proven models to strengthen the skills of 250,000 current K-12 teachers with one of the models being a summer institute. In July 2009, 73 DE agriscience teachers from 40 schools will attend a week-long Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy with partnering agency, DE Department of Education, to increase faculty teaching competencies. This program models the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy that has trained 71 educators from 45 states and Puerto Rico, with the support of DuPont to give teachers the necessary tools to successfully teach science in the contextual setting of agricultural education while boosting their students' rate of passing the standardized tests for No Child Left Behind. Nationally, there is a growing need for well-educated employees in the field of agriculture, as America tries to meet the growing domestic and global demands for food and fiber. With concern from consumers on food safety, security and independence, demand has also been placed on the supply of specialists in agribusiness and government. Agriculture is crucial to the economy of Delaware and to the way of life of our citizens. Currently, agriculture is ranked first by economic development, followed by tourism. The agricultural industry in Delaware is also not immune to the economic changes and the impending retirements. Through a competitive process that will begin in January 2010, the rising sophomores and junior agriscience students of the Agriscience Teacher Ambassadors will be invited to attend Delaware State University Summer AgriScience Institute, DSU-SASI. The students will take class work and develop group student projects under the mentorship of researchers in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, Cooperative Extension, and the sciences across the campus. While it is not an implementation action of RAGS, the committee found inquiry-based learning through summer internships and research opportunities that provide valuable laboratory experience for these grade levels to be an attractive approach. By creating this program, DSU will enlarge the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering, technology or mathematics, by creating opportunities and incentives for students to pursue advanced work in science. The committee is hoping to help foster the next generation of agriscientists that will meet industry needs here in Delaware and across the nation.

APPROACH: The program will start with a week-long Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy with the DE Department of Education, DE DOE. The DE Academy will follow the same format that the National Agriscience Teacher Ambassador Academy uses that is taught by Lab-Aids and sponsored by DuPont. Lab-Aids will be present to teach the DE Academy and supply the same materials that are used at the national training. A pre- and post-survey will be given to the teachers to assess their current teaching style at the beginning and the end of the week, and the end of the school year. Analysis of variance, ANOVA, will be used to analyze the teacher's responses to teaching styles. Once school is in session and the teachers are using the curriculum, the PI and Dr. Hutchison will make site visits to the agriscience programs to assess the success of inquiry-based learning modules among the students. Students will be given a pre- and post-survey at the beginning and the end of the school year to assess their interests in SET and SET-based careers in agriscience. These surveys will be analyzed using ANOVA. Every student who completes an agricultural pathway must take an exit exam to graduate. Student scores will be compared from the 2009 exam to the 2010 and 2011 exams for the teachers who have taken the Academy. These results will be provided from DE DOE without attachment to student names. While there will be external factors that could impact the students'scores, the hypothesis is by adding inquiry-based learning using a tested curriculum and methodology, that the student's exit scores should be higher in 2010 and 2011, than in 2009 for each teacher. ANOVA and multiple regression will be used to analyze the test scores. The SASI Committee will work from July 2009-July 2010 to publicize the opportunities to local schools in Delaware; work with campus faculty and staff to secure housing, meals, and public safety; serve as teachers for the classes; line up graduate and undergraduate students to serve as residential advisors and teachers, and hold DSU-SASI from June 21-July 16, 2010. SASI will offer students core classes along with specialized classes throughout their stay, including field trips to agriscience companies located in DE, so that the students can get real-world exposure to agriscience careers. Time will be set aside each day to focus on completing a group study project. The last day, teachers and parents of the students will be invited to attend a Symposium and Poster Session. The students selected at the DE FFA Agriscience Fair will compete at the National FFA Agriscience Fair during Month 16. Between Months 12-24, evaluation and dissemination plans will be followed, with close-out occurring in Month 23 and 24. Alumni of the 2010 SASI will be tracked through surveys to see if they chose to attend a 2-year, 4-year post-secondary institution, or enter directly into the workforce; if they chose to continue their studies in agriculture or another major; and what career choices they made and if SASI had an effect on their decisions. Multiple regression will be used to determine if SASI played a role in these decisions.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
DELX0029-09-01
Accession number
217966
Categories
Bacterial Pathogens