Texas agricultural science teachers’ competency of educational law
Hainline, Mark S.
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The overarching purpose of this research study was to evaluate the cycle of learning related to legal issues in in-service professional development and pre-service education. To accomplish this research purpose, three distinct, yet interrelated phases of the study served as sequential steps to (1) identify important educational law topics for Texas Agricultural Science Teachers, (2) determine Texas Agricultural Science Teachers’ educational law training needs, and (3) develop, implement, and assess an educational law professional development program. In Phase I, the Delphi of important educational law topics for Texas Agricultural science Teachers, the superintendents and school district attorneys perceived student discipline, teacher rights, special education, and teacher communication with students to be the most important general education law issues. Moreover, the panel of experts indicated student safety/supervision, communication with parents and superiors, and financial responsibility were the most important educational law issues, specifically related to agricultural education. Phase II, the educational law needs assessment, was conducted on a probabilistic sample of 213 Texas Agricultural Science Teachers. The Texas agricultural science teachers identified (1) qualified immunity, (2) search and seizure of students, (3) transportation of students in school and (4) personal vehicles, and (5) teacher-initiated removal of students as their highest-ranked educational law in-service needs. Moreover, findings of a factorial ANOVA indicated that Texas Agricultural Science Teachers’ Competency in Educational law was significantly different based on the number of educational law trainings the teacher had previously attended. The impact of educational law training on teachers’ educational law competency expressed in Phase II, prompted the need for the development, implementation, and evaluation of the Educational Law Literacy Program (ELLP), which served as Phase III of this study. The ELLP training program was provided to pre-service teachers at Texas Tech University, as part of a classroom management course. The three-hour training program, provided pre-service teachers with an insight of educational law statutes and provided inquiry-based activities for the pre-service teachers to apply their knowledge. Reaction (i.e., affective and cognitive/intention) and learning measures were collected at the conclusion of the program to evaluate training effectiveness. Overall, the agricultural science pre-service teachers indicated positive affective reactions toward the ELLP training and showed moderate to strong agreement with the items pertaining to intention/cognition reactions. These responses indicates the teachers were happy with the delivery of the program and, felt the training improved their overall understanding and interpretation of educational law. Findings on learning measures indicated the pre-service teachers’ understanding of educational law, ability to demonstrate comprehension on educational law topics, and ability to apply concepts to real-world scenarios increased from “poor” or “fair” to “good” or “very good” based on their participation in the ELLP.