AN EXAMINATION OF THE HOME VISIT PROCESS WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION

Date

2017-12-15

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Abstract

The agricultural education profession has historically provided unique opportunities for agriculture teachers to gain a deeper connection with students through participation in FFA (formerly known as Future Farmers of America), supervision of supervised agricultural education (SAE) projects, and interactions in the classroom and laboratory. These three components are integrated to form a three-component model of agricultural education. They overlap through a strong relationship between agriculture teachers and students, which often develops through visits to students’ homes.
A qualitative investigation presenting a historical and ethnographic account of the practice of home visits in agricultural education provided information from experts in the field about their definition of home visits, the value of home visits to the agricultural education profession, and the factors contributing to their changing focus in our profession. This investigation also described historical events, which affected and influenced teachers’ visits to the homes of students. Home visits are perceived to have high value, but a coherent definition of a home visit did not exist. Conversations with experts revealed reasons for the decline in teachers conducting home visits such as larger class sizes, the loss of extended contracts, and competition for diverse program goals.
Second, a quantitative investigation and descriptive study presented the status of the practice of conducting home visits among California agriculture teachers. I used an online questionnaire to evaluate the perceived benefits of and barriers to conducting home visits as well as the prevailing definition of a home visit as compared to a SAE

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visit. The target population comprised 750 California agriculture teachers, and 34.93% (n = 262) responded. This study revealed that 55.3% of respondents defined a home visit as separate from a SAE visit whereas 31.1% stated that an SAE visit is a home visit. The most highly ranked barrier category was support for the practice. The most highly ranked beneficial impact category was benefit to the student.
The final study used a descriptive phenomenological methodology to identify the motivation, structure, and outcomes of home visits made by agriculture teachers. Twenty-one California agriculture teachers were interviewed. Themes emerging from this qualitative study included: (1) motivations for conducting home visits, (2) structure and format of visits, (3) data collection and materials disseminated, (4) challenges and barriers, (5) values and impacts, and (6) shared experiences. Primary motivations included visiting SAE projects, developing relationships, increasing student involvement, and professional development experiences. Impacts discussed were strong connections with students and their families, improved classroom management, and increased student success. Recommendations included creating instructional guides focused on home visits, promoting workshops statewide, and initiating a special recognition program for teachers who conduct home visits.
Based upon findings, it is recommended that the agricultural education profession adopt two new definitions of home visits: the Relational Home Visit and SAE Home Visit. Continued research on the use of home visits in today’s agricultural education is recommended which includes further research into the value of home visits and the state of the practice across a larger sample of other states.


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Keywords

Home Visit, SAE

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