Agriculture Courses during Summer School: Community College Students' Interests and Preferences

By Keith, Steve; Akers, Cindy et al. | NACTA Journal, December 2010 | Go to article overview
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Agriculture Courses during Summer School: Community College Students' Interests and Preferences


Keith, Steve, Akers, Cindy, Wingenbach, Gary, NACTA Journal


Abstract

Forty-eight students currently enrolled at North Central Texas College were asked about factors influencing their decision to enroll in summer school agriculture courses. Identifying significant factors may help educators improve the scheduling and feasibility of summer school courses for both their institutions and students. This study investigated students' levels of interest in agriculture courses during summer school, preferred subject area(s), and delivery format. The results showed that common factors influencing students' choices to attend summer school have changed very little over the past few decades. This study also found that a large percentage of students who had never enrolled in summer school courses were interested in such courses to satisfy one of three current educational goals: associate's degree, core curriculum basics for university transfer, or technical certificate. Additional analyses revealed that many students who were not interested in agriculture summer courses had never enrolled in any non-agriculture summer school courses. Students indicated animal science and equine science as the most preferred subject areas and Monday through Thursday for five consecutive weeks as the most preferred delivery format. Community college educators and administrators should continue investigating students' preferences for summer school agriculture courses and use the findings from this study to evaluate their current course offerings for summer school.

Introduction

Summer school is included in the academic plans of many students at various institutions, including North Central Texas College. Summer courses are offered in a variety of disciplines and delivery formats to accommodate student and faculty schedules. These courses also create opportunities for additional income for both faculty and institutions. This study focused on the preferences of currently enrolled agriculture students with regard to possible summer school courses offered at North Central Texas College in the agriculture department. Specifically of interest were students' preferred subject areas, delivery format, and factors which might influence their decisions to enroll. A review of the literature did not reveal previous research on agriculture students' preferences for agriculture courses during summer school among community college students. Sample populations in related studies either represented general student populations enrolled in summer school or students enrolled in business classes during a summer school term.

Wayland et al. (2000) stated that a successful summer school program should offer courses that students want and need and an appropriate schedule of those courses. At North Central Texas College, courses selected by administrators for summer terms historically have been part of the institution's core curriculum. Literature suggests that students choose to attend summer school to graduate on time, complete their degrees more quickly, decrease course loads for regular fall or spring semesters, and/or make up course credits (Chandler and Weiler, 1995; Keller, 1982; Patterson et al., 1981). Scott (1995) reported that students who enrolled in summer courses had expectations of less time required and that the academic standards were less rigorous than during the traditional academic year.

Very few community colleges offer agriculture courses during summer school. The purpose of this study was to explore students' preferences and expectations of summer school and factors influencing their decision to enroll in agriculture courses. The specific objectives guiding the study were to:

1. Determine the demographics of currently enrolled participating students;

2. Determine students' levels of interest in enrolling in summer school agriculture courses;

3. Determine common factors influencing students' decisions to enroll in a summer school courses; and,

4. Determine students' preferences with respect to subject areas and delivery formats for agriculture courses which could be offered during summer semesters.

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