Academic journal article NACTA Journal

The Effect of Previous Equine Experience on Performance and Effort Required in an Introductory Level Equine Science Class

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

The Effect of Previous Equine Experience on Performance and Effort Required in an Introductory Level Equine Science Class

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study was designed to determine if previous equine experience and level of interest significantly affected performance in an introductory equine science class. A total of 156 students over two semesters were questioned about their level of horses experience (1 to 10 scale). In a follow-up survey at the end of the semester, students were asked about their cumulative GPA to date (on a 4.0 scale), degree major, and were asked to judge their effort put into the class (on a scale of 1 to 10) and if they believed that previous experience helped or would have helped them perform better in the class (on a scale of 1 to 10). Students in one semester were also asked about their future goals with horses and their reasons for taking the course. Data were analyzed to determine if correlations existed between variables and their performance in the class (final grade). A one-way ANOVA was also performed to determine if there was a difference in performance based on if the student's major, future goals or his/her reasons for taking the course. The student's overall GPA had a significant impact on final grade (P<0.001) and that previous equine experience had no impact on final grade (P = 0.590). However, students with previous experience did not appear to have to work as hard in the class (P<0.001). Students in the Department of Animal Science performed better than students outside of the College of Agriculture and Life Science, but students in other College of Agriculture and Life Science majors performed equally well. Students looking for a future with horses performed better than students with no future interest in horses and those students who took the course for a major requirement or general interest in horses performed better than students who simply took the course to meet general education program requirements. These findings of student experience, motivation and performance are of interest to help better prepare both students and faculty for the course expectations.

Introduction

The face of agricultural science is changing as more and more students are coming to these disciplines from non-rural backgrounds (Dyer et al., 1996; Scofield, 1995). This means that more students are coming into their freshmen college year in fields such as animal science with potentially little animal science background. While enrollment in animal science is increasing, particularly for students with an interest in companion animal and equine science (McNamara, 2009; Moore et al., 2008), faculty are challenged to provide material in the classroom that is appropriate to the students' needs.

How students perform in the classroom may affect retention in the discipline (Ball et al., 2001), therefore it is of interest to determine what factors impact performance. Self-efficacy refers to an intrinsic motivation to succeed in the classroom and may be influenced by previous experience or general interest and incentive to take a course within a given field (Joo et al, 2000; Schunk, 1995). This concept is common to fields such as computer science in which previous experience significantly impacts performance in introductory computer science classes (Joo et al., 2000; Wilson and Shrock, 2001). Several studies have also indicated that previous agricultural experience has an impact on performance in agricultural programs as well (Ball et al., 2001; Perkins and Andreasen, 2001).

There is increased interest in fields such as equine science within Animal Science Departments (McNamara, 2009; Moore et al., 2008). As expected, these students may have different levels of background prior to taking courses in such disciplines (Lawrence, 1987). An early study of an equine management class found that previous equine experience had no effect on final grade in the class (Lawrence, 1987). However, the same study found that the student's level of interest, particularly with respect to future career goals had an impact on grade performance in the class, such that students who took the course to prepare them for future career possibilities performed better. …

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