A Quasi-Experimental Examination of the Effects of Cognitive Sequencing on STEM Concept Integration in Agricultural Education
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Understanding the best methods for effectively instructing STEM education concepts is essential in the current climate of education. Kolb’s experiential learning theory outlines four specific modes of learning, based on preferences for grasping and transforming information. This quasi-experimental study was conducted to test the effect of cognitive sequencing of instruction through Kolb’s experiential learning theory. The Principles of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources courses in four Texas high schools were randomly assigned to one of four experimental groups (N = 128). Two units of instruction were developed, one in water science and one in soil science. Each content unit was developed in two separate sequences; one with each new concept presented beginning with a concrete experience and moving to an abstract conceptualization and the other beginning with abstract conceptualization and moving to concrete experience. Three sites served as test groups while the fourth site was a control group and did not receive exposure to the treatment. This experiment utilized a crossover design to allow each student to experience both cognitive sequences. The independent variables of cognitive sequence of instruction, socioeconomic status, learning disabilities, and student preference for grasping information were analyzed in relation to the dependent variables of student change score from pretest to posttest for both units of instruction. The findings revealed no significant differences in change scores for the independent variables of socioeconomic status or learning disability. A significant interaction and large effect size was found between the independent variables of preference for grasping information and cognitive sequence of presentation for both units of instruction. An examination of the simple main effects showed that students had significantly higher change scores when the information was presented beginning with the learning mode they showed preference for. These findings shed light on the importance of utilizing student preferences through experiential learning theory as an important factor in designing STEM curriculum and teaching STEM concepts in agricultural education.
Smith, Kasee Lynn (2016). A Quasi-Experimental Examination of the Effects of Cognitive Sequencing on STEM Concept Integration in Agricultural Education. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from