Establishing Ownership: How Agricultural Education Teachers Influenced the Planning of Their Continuing Professional Education Experiences
The literatures in adult and continuing education as well as teacher education reflect a history that emphasizes the importance of learner participation in program planning (Houle, 1980; Knowles, 1980; Richey, 1957) where planning is a mutual responsibility of the teacher(s) and the adult learners (Knowles, 1980). However, while the literature has continued to identify learners as an integral to program planning (Cervero & Wilson, 2006; Little, 1993) as a means of empowering adult learners to address their educational needs in the context of their practice (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999), there appears to be a lack of empirical examinations of how learners participate in the mutual relationships of responsibility for the planning work, how their participation may influence the development and implementation of continuing professional education program designed for groups of learners (Houle, 1972) and therefore why learner participation is an integral aspect of program planning in adult education. Specifically within the agricultural education profession in which this study is focused, the literature does not represent teachers as substantial participants in the planning of their continued professional education programs (Duncan, Ricketts, Peake, & Uesseler, 2006). Instead, planning of continuing professional education programs in agricultural education has been reportedly conducted by university and state education department staff members to provide technical skills and knowledge to practicing teachers. This literature in the agricultural education profession is not consistent with the current planning practices for the secondary agricultural education community in New York State where teachers not only participate but provide substantial leadership in the program planning process. The purpose of this study was to examine learner participation in the planning of continuing professional education. The site and audience for investigating learner involvement was the planning of an annual continuing professional education program for New York State teachers of agricultural education. The researcher used multiple means of data collection associated with case studies including: 1.) formal in-depth interviews with each teacher, 2.) observation of the Board and committee meetings, and 3.) qualitative document analysis (Yin, 2003) as well as the facilitation of a 4.) a single focus group that provided a member check (Patton, 2002) of the draft themes developed in the preliminary data analysis. Finally, an the over-arching theme emerged from the case study findings that provides a general thesis for the entire study and that offers a fundamental departure point for applying the results of the study in changing how we go about planning for continuing professional education in the profession.
Continuing Professional Education; Teacher Professional Development; Agricultural Education Teacher Professional Development; Adult Education Program Planning
dissertation or thesis