Teacher Differences in Beliefs and Perceptions About Sustainable Agriculture: Influence on the Teaching of High School Agriculture Curriculum

  •  Mathew Muma    
  •  Robert Martin    
  •  Mack Shelley    


The purpose of the study was to determine agriculture teacher differences in beliefs and perceptions about sustainable agriculture (SA) and the associations of these with the teaching of SA in the 12 states of the Midwest US. A descriptive design using self-administered structured questionnaires with Likert measurements was adopted. A stratified random sample of 844 teachers were self-administered the questionnaires. Data were analyzed by ANOVA by comparing means and conducting post-hoc tests. Teachers who agreed and those who disagreed about SA beliefs had no statistically significant difference in their mean ratings of beliefs about SA. Those who were neutral and those who disagreed about SA beliefs had similar mean ratings. Teachers who agreed with SA beliefs and those who were neutral about SA beliefs had a statistically significant difference in their mean ratings of SA beliefs. All three of those groups taught SA topics to a moderate extent. This was not the case for teachers who differed about their perceptions of SA topics/practices. Therefore, teacher differences in beliefs about SA may or may not influence the teaching of SA topics. Teacher perceptions of selected SA practices only influenced the extent to which teachers taught SA. SA goals can be achieved via teaching to influence teacher knowledge, affect, cognition, behavior, and actions towards SA. Teacher professional development needs can be identified from their differences in perceptions about SA practices. An education approach promoting the building of bridges among different perspectives about SA and systems teaching-learning can help to achieve SA goals.

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