Effectiveness of the Southwest Dairy Center Mobile Classroom in Promoting Agricultural Literacy
Keywords:Mobile Dairy Classroom, dairy presentation, dairy specialist, agricultural literacy, questionnair
Most Americans now live in an urban setting and are two to three generations removed from life on a farm. Hence, children and many adults lack knowledge of where and how food is produced. Agricultural education programs are being initiated across the country. One program, developed at the Southwest Dairy Museum in Sulphur Springs, Texas, consists of mobile dairy classrooms (n = 5), which visit elementary schools, fairs, and shopping centers in four states and present a program about the dairy industry. To assess effectiveness of these classrooms, a study was conducted that used pre-visit questionnaires (pre-test) and post-visit questionnaires (post-test). Data from each student were recorded and statistically analyzed using split-plot analysis of variance for repeated measures. Analysis indicated no differences in response between males and females. In scoring the pre-test knowledge questions, a mere 3.7 % of males made a passing score of 70% or better compared to 3.4% of the females. Students showed a strong response to the dairy presentation (P < .001), with 50.9% and 42.4% of the males and females, respectively, passing the post-test. Ethnic background was observed and most of the students in this study were Caucasian of Non-Hispanic origin (White). A small number of African American, Hispanic, and Asian children responded, and they were collectively referred to as minority students. An interaction of ethnicity and response to teaching was observed (P < .001). About 2.9% of white students as compared to 4.7% of minority students passed the pre-test. Following the dairy classroom presentation 43.5% and 51.2 % of the white students and minority students, respectively, passed the post-test. It appears that children are learning a significant amount about the dairy industry from programs presented by the mobile dairy classroom.