The influence of contextual teaching with the problem solving method on students' knowledge and attitudes toward horticulture, science, and school
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Adolescence is marked with many changes in the development of higher order thinking skills. As students enter high school they are expected to utilize these skills to solve problems, become abstract thinkers, and contribute to society. The goal of this study was to assess horticultural science knowledge achievement and attitude toward horticulture, science, and school in high school agriculture students. There were approximately 240 high school students in the sample including both experimental and control groups from California and Washington. Students in the experimental group participated in an educational program called Ã¢ÂÂHands-On HortscienceÃ¢ÂÂ which emphasized problem solving in investigation and experimentation activities with greenhouse plants, soilless media, and fertilizers. Students in the control group were taught by the subject matter method. The activities included in the Hands-On Hortscience curriculum were created to reinforce teaching the scientific method through the context of horticulture. The objectives included evaluating whether the students participating in the Hands-On Hortscience experimental group benefited in the areas of science literacy, data acquisition and analysis, and attitude toward horticulture, science, and school. Pre-tests were administered in both the experimental and control groups prior to the research activities and post-tests were administered after completion. The survey questionnaire included a biographical section and attitude survey. Significant increases in hortscience achievement were found from pre-test to post-test in both control and experimental study groups. The experimental treatment group had statistically higher achievement scores than the control group in the two areas tested: scientific method (p=0.0016) and horticulture plant nutrition (p=0.0004). In addition, the students participating in the Hands-On Hortscience activities had more positive attitudes toward horticulture, science, and school (p=0.0033). Students who were more actively involved in hands-on projects had higher attitude scores compared to students who were taught traditional methods alone. In demographic comparisons, females had more positive attitudes toward horticulture science than males; and students from varying ethnic backgrounds had statistically different achievement (p=0.0001). Ethnicity was determined with few students in each background, 8 in one ethnicity and 10 students in another. Youth organization membership such as FFA or 4-H had no significant bearing on achievement or attitude.
Whitcher, Carrie Lynn (2005). The influence of contextual teaching with the problem solving method on students' knowledge and attitudes toward horticulture, science, and school. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from