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ERIC Number: EJ936025
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-1059-9053
Students' Experiential Learning and Use of Student Farms in Sustainable Agriculture Education
Parr, Damian M.; Trexler, Cary J.
Journal of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Education, v40 p172-180 2011
Student farms, developed largely out of student efforts, have served as centers for the development of experiential learning and sustainable agriculture and food systems educational activities on land-grant colleges of agriculture well before most formal sustainable agriculture and food systems programs were proposed. This study explored students' perspectives regarding effective learning approaches in sustainable agriculture and food systems (SAFS) education, how their experiences on student farms were integrated into their formal educational programs, and their motivations for participation in student farms. Focus groups were conducted with students who worked and studied at student farms (SF) located at three geographically diverse land-grant colleges (in the Northeast, Midwest, and Western parts of the United States). Students' learning preference for integrating classroom and fieldwork showed strong resemblance to the experiential learning theory that knowledge is constructed when learners resolve tensions between abstract conceptualization and concrete experience, reflective observation, and experimentation. Students and SF staff and faculty formed a SAFS community of practice that emphasized horizontal knowledge co-construction, rather than simply privileging faculty (expert) transmission of abstract theory. Students sought out the SF to gain agricultural and horticultural production, marketing, and community development competencies in organic, small-scale agriculture. Students were motivated by the empowerment they experienced when practical learning directly aligned with, and in some instances was an extension of, their values, ideals, and deeper sense of purpose. Findings suggest student farms are fertile locations for nurturing experiential learning activities as part of land-grant colleges of agriculture curricula. (Contains 3 tables.)
American Society of Agronomy. 677 South Segoe Road, Madison, WI 53711. Tel: 608-273-8080; Fax: 608-273-2021; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States