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ERIC Number: ED530758
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 199
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1247-5253-2
An Examination of Farmworker Pesticide Educators in a Southeastern State: Informal Science Educators and Risk Communication
LePrevost, Catherine E.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Because pesticide exposure is a significant hazard to farmworkers in their working and living environments, basic pesticide toxicology is a topic for farmworker science education that has implications beyond scientific literacy to encompass farmworkers' safety and health. Migrant and seasonal farmworkers have been identified as an at-risk population because of the cultural and linguistic barriers they face, their temporary employment and tenuous documentation status, and their low literacy levels and limited formal education. Despite the key role of pesticide educators in promoting farmworker scientific literacy, safety, and health, data regarding pesticide educators are absent in the literature. This dissertation investigated the nature of pesticide educators in a southeastern state. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative methods, the three studies contained within this body of work characterize the personal beliefs--including pesticide risk, self-efficacy, and teaching beliefs--of pesticide educators, as well as educators' personal goals and their beliefs about the environments in which they pursue those goals. The research allowed for the creation of a profile of the organizations that and individuals who provide pesticide education to farmworkers in a highly agricultural state. The first study details the development and field testing of the Pesticide Risk Beliefs Inventory, a quantitative inventory to gauge pesticide risk beliefs, with a sample of pesticide educators (n = 43) in a southeastern state. The 19-item, Likert-type inventory was found to be psychometrically sound with a Cronbach's alpha of 0.780 and a valuable tool in capturing pesticide educators' beliefs about pesticide risk, assessing beliefs in four key categories. The Pesticide Risk Beliefs Inventory could be useful in exploring beliefs about pesticide risks and guiding efforts to address misconceptions held by a variety of formal and informal science learners, educators, practitioners, the agricultural labor force, and the general public. A second mixed-method, multi-case study investigated 19 farmworker pesticide educators from four types of institutions in this southeastern state. A quantitative questionnaire and semi-structured interviews were employed to explore teaching beliefs, pesticide risk beliefs, and self-efficacy beliefs of these informal science educators. Teaching beliefs of pesticide educators ranged from traditional to reform-based, with most being transitional (i.e., focused on educator/farmworker relationships). Findings indicate that these pesticide educators have expert-like beliefs about pesticide risk. A positive correlation (r = 0.455, p = 0.0578) existed between concern about adverse health outcomes associated with pesticides and student-centered teaching beliefs. Self-efficacy scores ranged from low to moderate, lower than is typically found in science teachers. Findings suggest an inverse relationship (r = -0.468, p = 0.0503) between self-efficacy and farmworker-focused beliefs about teaching. Patterns of beliefs were apparent for teaching, pesticide risk, and self-efficacy by institutional affiliation and number of training sessions provided. Study results have direct implications for modifications to teacher belief constructs and pesticide educator professional development. The third mixed methods study examines the state of pesticide education from an organizational perspective by comparing pesticide educators' (n = 45) personal goals to those of their institutions and examining the factors that shape educators' teaching practices. Findings indicate that individuals from all institutions share goals to reduce exposure and ensure safety and health for farmworkers, regardless of the missions of their organizations. Pesticide educators described time, farmworker basic needs, the physical setting, institutional missions, and training and curricular materials as shaping their teaching practices and restricting their goal attainment. This study suggests that congruence of personal goals provides a foundation for inter-institutional collaborations to meet the needs of this at-risk farmworker population. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A