Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Agricultural & Extension Education

Committee Chair

Harry Boone

Committee Co-Chair

Stacy Gartin

Committee Member

Stacy Gartin

Committee Member

Deborah Boone


Numerous studies have shown that students learn best when theory is applied to hands-on experiences. Traditionally, vocational agriculture, which evolved into agricultural education, has incorporated hands-on learning. For example, students typically raise livestock and crops as part of supervised agricultural experiences; learn to use chain saws, tractors, hay rakes, balers and other equipment found on farms; and basic metal working skills. They also sample soil and water to test for mineral levels and types of pollution that might affect agricultural practices. The purpose of this study, which incorporates a survey of agricultural education teachers in West Virginia, is to determine the extent to which those teachers incorporate experiential, i.e., hands-on, learning in an introductory level course. Thirty one of West Virginia’s 104 agricultural education teachers responded to the survey, but 15 of those teacher’s surveys could not be used because they do not teach Introduction to Agriculture. The results of the study concluded that hands-on learning is occurring in the Introduction to Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resource class. Of the respondents who taught the course, some did not teach all of the skill sets required for the course, which leads one to ask why. Each survey question permitted respondents to mark multiple ways in which he or she is teaching each skill, but further investigation is needed to discover why a surprising number of respondents marked “Do Not Teach” on skill sets and to discover more accurately how learning is occurring in the Introduction to Agriculture course.