Supervised Agricultural Experience Programs in the 21st Century: Where Are We Today?

Article excerpt

Since its inception, agricultural education (vocational agriculture) has promoted the concept of learning by doing. This concept is to be manifested in the classroom, through participation in the FFA, and by participation in Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE). Although it has not always been identified as SAE, many of the underpinnings in this student- oriented practice have always been promoted.

Rufus Stimson believed that all students needed an opportunity to apply what they learned through what he termed the project method. These projects provided students with the opportunity to take personal ownership for their work. The project method also allowed all of the students to play a part in the work, rather than just a few. Rufus Stimson felt the students should be learning agricultural techniques at the school and then go home and apply what they had learned. Today, SAE still provides the opportunity to take what is learned in the classroom and apply this knowledge and skill beyond the classroom and laboratory. Also, knowledge and skills learned through the SAE project should then be used to influence that which is discussed in future classroom and laboratory sessions. This type of synergistic relationship can only be fully realized when teachers of agriculture are helping students implement SAE programs to their fullest.

Supervised Agricultural Experience programs provide excellent opportunities for experiential learning to take place. Researchers and philosophers (Dewey, 1938; KoIb, 1984) have stated that experiential learning does include an actual experience. Many would readily agree with these assertions. However, Dewey, KoIb, and others that have explored experiential learning, also believe that other components, namely reflection and future application, need to be present for students to benefit the most from the experience. Many individuals may also agree with these two components; however, the question is whether or not they are stressed as much in the learning experience as they should be. …