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A study on present challenges on experiential learning of university students (University of Tehran, The Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Iran)

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The main goal of this research has been to analyze the main challenges of experiential learning of practical courses offered in the University of Tehran, The colleges of Agriculture and Natural resources in the year 2009. Qualitative and quantitative methods of research have been used. The less dominant method of the research has been qualitative which 30 technician have been interviewed as co-instructors of practical courses. More dominant method of the research has been quantitative including Descriptive and Co- relational methods of research. 335 third and fourth year Agricultural colleges’ students studying in Agricultural majors have formed the sample population. Random and Stratified sampling method has been used. The instrument of the research has been a questionnaire having 34 questions. Cronbach's alpha has been 0.0916 and reliability of the questionnaire has been approved by expert opinion of the professors of the department of Agricultural Extension & Education. Data analysis has been done by using SPSS computer software. Results have indicated four components are the main challenges of the experiential learning of the practical courses including (1)Insufficient educational spaces & equipments (2)less experienced instructors and technicians (3)Not paying attention to parallel and additional experiences and (4)Insufficient class management by the Instructors and technicians.
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1877–0428 © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.04.329
Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
WCES-2011
A study on present challenges on experiential learning of university
students (University of Tehran, The Colleges of Agriculture and
Natural Resources, Iran)
Saeede Nazari Nooghabi
a
, Hooshang Iravani
b
, Hossien Shabanali Fami
c
a
M. Sc. Graduate, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran,31587-11167,Karaj,Iran
b
Associate professor, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran, 31587-11167,Karaj,Iran
c Associate professor, University College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Tehran, 31587-11167,Karaj,Iran
Abstract
The main goal of this research has been to analyze the main challenges of experiential learning of practical courses offered in the
University of Tehran, The colleges of Agriculture and Natural resources in the year 2009. Qualitative and quantitative methods
of research have been used. The less dominant method of the research has been qualitative which 30 technician have been
interviewed as co-instructors of practical courses. More dominant method of the research has been quantitative including
Descriptive and Co- relational methods of research. 335 third and fourth year Agricultural colleges’ students studying in
Agricultural majors have formed the sample population. Random and Stratified sampling method has been used. The instrument
of the research has been a questionnaire having 34 questions. Cronbach’s alpha has been 0.0916 and reliability of the
questionnaire has been approved by expert opinion of the professors of the department of Agricultural Extension & Education.
Data analysis has been done by using SPSS computer software. Results have indicated four components are the main challenges
of the experiential learning of the practical courses including (1)Insufficient educational spaces & equipments(2)less experienced
instructors and technicians(3)Not paying attention to parallel and additional experiences and (4)Insufficient class management by
the Instructors and technicians.
© 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Keywords: Higher education, Experiential learning, practical courses, University of Tehran, Agricultural majors
1. Introduction
Developing a supervised experiential learning for conducting practical courses is a must and not a selection , The
students must be both theoretically and practically be empowered for being successful in their future employment
including finding job opportunities , doing well in their responsibilities and being skillful for doing their duties with
high quality, being creative along with entrepreneurial abilities (iravani, 2005). Today agricultural education has
two major purposes. First, it provides knowledge and skills needed by many individuals to enter and advance in
agricultural careers; and, second, it develops agricultural literacy (Lee, 2000), and agricultural sustainable candidate
development‘s wisdom. To achieve its purposes, agricultural education has four basic program components;
supervised experiences, student development, classroom instruction, and laboratory instruction (Broyles, 2004).
Hooshang Iravani Tel.:+989123986793; fax: +982612206824.
E-mail address: iravanihoosh@yahoo.com
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license.
Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
3523
Providing unique and essential skill development opportunities in the classroom, students are taught the principles,
concepts, and theories pertinent to the agricultural specialty being studied. In the laboratory, students transform
theory into supervised practice toward skilled proficiency. The linkage between classroom and laboratory teaching
should be strong, clear, planned, and a purposeful one. Appropriate laboratory practice should be incorporated into
every problem. Effective laboratory instruction requires teacher demonstration and supervision of student practice.
Laboratory instruction in vocational agriculture serves as the major setting where students develop psychomotor
skills and apply principles learned through classroom instruction. Laboratory instruction is the essential link
between classroom instruction and skill development (Phipps & Osborne, 1988, p. 411).
Newcomb et al. (2004) explained the importance of laboratory instruction when they stated: When students are
able to practice what they have learned, they have completed the teaching-learning cycle. Through their application
students are better able to see the real meaning of theory. They have a concrete idea of relationships and better
understand concepts which are interrelated (p. 216).
The concept of experiential learning is the theoretical basis for this study. Dewey (1939) was a pioneer
philosopher in the area of experiential learning who believed that it was the role of educators to arrange for practices
that promote more favorable experiences. Kolb (1984) suggested that the process of experiential learning can be
described as a four-stage cycle involving four adaptive learning modes: concrete experience, reflective observation,
abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation. Powell and Wells (2002) summarized Kolb’s four stage
cycle when they said:
• Stage one (concrete experience) puts the learner in the position to approach a situation and relate it to previous life
understanding using feelings more than logic;
• Stage two (reflective observation) allows the learner to scrutinize ideas and reflects on the information from
different points of view;
• Stage three (abstract conceptualization) allows the learner to develop generalizations or theories to use in problem
solving; and
• Stage four (active experimentation) allows the learner to diagnose the situation or problem and uses behavioral
skills to take action.
Experiential learning is a major component of agricultural education. Terry (1993) emphasized the importance of
facilities in agricultural education instructional programs. He noted that while each of the three areas is still
important (SAE
1
, FFA
2
, class work); the classroom/laboratory is disproportionately emphasized. Terry further noted
“while FFA and SAE are essential parts of a total educational experience, they are of lesser importance and are more
an opportunity to apply what is learned in the classroom/laboratory rather than the focus of the entire program”
(p. 9). Miller (1993) stated “facilities in agricultural education have traditionally reflected the curriculum. As the
curriculum expands, so do the demands placed upon agricultural education facilities. Both new and existing
facilities must be designed to support a diversifying curriculum(p. 4). Facilities are crucial to psychomotor
teaching methods and enable students the opportunity to apply skills. Educators provide coaching or laboratory
instruction through the use of experiments, exercises, or applied projects. Such facilities also provide an
environment to simulate real world applications. Agri-science’s facilities should resemble a science laboratory
(Broyles, 2004). Thompson and Balschweid (1999) conducted a study using Oregon agricultural science and
technology teachers employed during the 1997-1998 school year. They found that over 83% of the respondents
agreed or strongly agreed that lack of appropriate equipment is a barrier to integrating science. Providing adequate
facilities to support science-based programs is difficult due to lack of existing scientific equipment and inadequate
funding for the latest science based-technology.
Hamilton and Goecker (1973) conducted a research study in which 271 Indiana vocational agriculture teachers
were asked what limits the laboratory use. The results indicated that 34% of the respondents stated equipment and
32.9% of the respondents stated supplies as factors that limit the use of the laboratory.
Kalme and Dyer (2000) conducted a study to determine principals’ perceptions of secondary education programs
in Iowa high schools with agricultural education programs. The researchers surveyed 147 principals in Iowa high
schools. The study showed that principals were uncertain as to whether agricultural education facilities and
equipment were up-to-date. Shelhamer (1993) stated that “laboratory experiences must be modernized to reflect the
new image for agricultural education, and that these activities must be effectively marketed to local communities”
1
Supervised Agricultural Experience
2
3524 Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
(p. 21). Bruce (1981) reported that having an adequate facility available is an important and necessary component if
a quality teaching environment is to be provided. Agricultural education researchers suggest that facilities and
facility components have not sufficiently changed to support the integrated agri-science curriculum (Lee, 1980;
Terry, 1993). Vocational agriculture programs must be upgraded to prepare students more effectively for the study
of agriculture in post-secondary schools and colleges and for current and future career opportunities in agricultural
sciences, agribusinesses, marketing, management, and food production and processing (Broyles, 2004).
National development has a close relationship to Agricultural development. Empowerment of agricultural experts
with knowledge and skills are mandatory. Higher agricultural education needs to be in such a way that the graduates
of such institutions along with theoretical capabilities be skillful and have the knowledge of know- how for full
participation in agricultural development. According to Feeyoozat (1994) vocational skills and technological skills
when are integrated with theoretical knowledge makes one person empowered to become effective as an expert.
Analyzing the nature of agricultural activities and its relation with the natural environment need to focus on
experiential learning in conducting practical courses at higher education programs. Past research on the subject
conducted by Yaghoobi and Safa (2005) in Zanjan University, Taleghani (1991) at University of Tehran indicates
that there are challenges of experiential learning in many universities which must be resolved.
Agricultural sector in Iran provides 12 percent of the Gross national product, 22 percent of employment and 15
percent of non-oil exports. Based on statistics of Iran’s agricultural engineering organization there are 240,000
agricultural graduates in Iran, where 57000 0f them are looking for the job. One can conclude that partly is because
of lower investment in agricultural activities, but mainly because these graduates have insufficient capabilities
including not enough self reliance, not sufficient skills of know-how, and not being able to see the employment
opportunities in agriculture (Nasrollahi, 2009).
Alibaygi and Gravandi (2007); Oloruntoba (2008) have indicated that undergraduate agricultural university
students must be able to identify the farm problems and decide how to solve that problem. Challenges of this method
are existing differences between theoretical and practical content of the university courses, insufficient access to
farm inputs, proper technologies, well trained instructors, and proper learning environment, insufficient on the job
training for instructors, the challenge of making proper relationship between the theoretical, practical and the farm
content and skills. The integrated content with proper quality make a guideline for better education of the university
under graduate students.
According to Martin (2001) to standardize the physical activities, providing a safe learning environment,
providing a supportive and positive environment can help to improve the practical courses effectiveness. Fowler
(2008) experiential quality is dependent on the degree of students’ participation in the practical activities. Penrod
(1985); Arengton (1983); Miller (1980); Harris & newcomb(1985) in their studies have indicated that unwillingness
of students for participation in the experiential learning of practical courses is one of the main problems of higher
education in practical courses.
Bobbitt (1986) in a research have pinpointed that 91percent of the agricultural students participated in supervised
vocational agriculture have been among the best graduates in the united State of America. Bobbitt (1986) have
indicated that rural employed instructors and faculty members emphasize more than city employed instructors and
faculty members on supervised vocational education. Based on the same study older instructors prefer the farm
supervised agricultural education while younger instructors prefer to work on programs conducted within a
laboratory. Baker & Mackerkan study (1993) show that there is a positive relation between participation in
agricultural experiential programs and the vocational growth in agriculture. Okorley (2001) in the country of Ghana
have indicated that only 20 percent of students with participated in weal practical courses were willing to be self
employed , classes conducted only by lectures are not proper in educational curriculum.
Arnold and et.al (2006) in a research have found some of the experiential challenges need to be solved. These
challenges are: unawareness of the faculty members about the practical experiences, paying less attention,
registering for the class, timing of practical activities, supervision on practical courses and managing the students’
activities in the plans of experiential learning.
Foster (1986) has pinpointed the negative problems which reduce the participation of the students in practical
courses such as insufficient physical settings and facilities, unwillingness of the students, Allocation of insufficient
time to practical courses by the instructors, and faculty members. Unwillingness of the students to prepare reports,
economic factors and parallel courses taken by the students. Lamberth (1986) in his research findings indicates that
there are many constraints regarding experiential learning for conducting participation of the students in the
practical courses such as: students not having past agricultural experiences, insufficient inputs, too many students
( unacceptable faculty – student ratio) faculty members having many responsibilities within the educational system
Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
3525
they are employed. Dxer and Osborne (1995) have find some factors being effective for the success of the practical
courses such as increasing the sense of accepting more responsibility about participation and conducting the
practical courses, and reducing the effects of the constraints of insufficient resources, providing facilities , low
motivations of both students and faculty members.
Kolb and Kolb (2006) in their research have indicated that disintegration of the practicality of the courses with
experiential learning’s theory , not evaluating the processes and the outcome of the experiential learning , not
supporting institutionalized educational system for development of the supervised experiential learning including :
(1) developing a system within the college , (2) Empowerment of the administrators and personnel, and (3)
providing resources for developing experiential learning activities.
Dyer, Breja, Ball, (2003 ), indicated that The major problems identified by the Delphi technique in the successful
retention of students in high school agricultural education programs were: scheduling difficulties, lack of guidance
counselor support, the image of agriculture, increased graduation requirements, scheduling barriers created by
college entrance requirements, competition from other school activities, block scheduling, the image of the local
agriculture program, and the quality of the local agriculture instructors.
Alfen and et.al (2007) believe that the lack of facilities, lack of participation and cooperation are problems of
agricultural science education. Shao & bruening (2002) indicated that significant efforts have been made to reform
the curricula as it is the key element needed for the formation of the new educational system. The curriculum in
agricultural colleges was theoretical information based and the instruction was teacher-centered. Students usually
had little involvement in teaching and learning. In addition, the value of practical “hand-on” experiences in
agricultural education had been neglected. During the past decade new ideas and approaches in curriculum
development and instruction have been gradually incorporated into the agricultural vocational education through
new policy initiatives and a pilot project launched by the food and agriculture organization of United Nations during
1994-1998. The decentralization is one major feature of these changes.
Warner and Washburn (2009) have indicated thatˬNot enough equipment for hands-on activitiesˬInadequate
funding from stateˬStudents’ lack of knowledge about agricultureˬLack of program support from guidance
counselorsˬoverwhelming Student’s testing is, Collaboration with other curriculum departments, Inadequate college
facilities to support classroom activities. Harwood (2007) have pinpointed that indeed agricultural science education
rarely mentions agriculture or science as they were actually practiced. Kingerly (2010) indicates that for the success
of the experiential learning activities, integration of educational theories, experiential learning theory, youth
development theory and learning theories must be well selected and implemented.
Skelton and et.al, (2003), in their research showed that, Lack of basic business and management skills, Lack of
university-trained staff capable of structuring and carrying out research in relevant areas were problems of
agricultural education. Atchoarena and Holmes (2004), in their findings indicate the followings: Weak national
support for HAE, Decreased investment in HAE by government and donors, declining standards in teaching and
research, infrastructure; lack of staff incentives Low-level of Information Technology (IT).
Facilities are the linking point from classroom instruction to problem solving and hands-on experience. Facilities
must be furnished with equipment and modules that are highly correlated with the curriculum being implemented
Laboratory experiences must be modernized to reflect the integration of academics with agricultural education. A
facility problem being encountered is that agricultural educators do not know the essential components needed for a
functional agriscience facility (Broyles, 2004). The frame work of the research has been as presented in the Figure 1.
Figure1. Theoretical framework of researching on the challenges of the conducting practical courses at higher education’s level
Challen
g
es of ex
p
eriential learnin
g
at a
g
ricultural hi
g
her education
Administration
Methods inputs
Timing
Programming
Experiential learning
Evaluation
Human inputs
Students
Technicians
Instructors
Facult
members
Educational inputs
Course content
Aids
Technology
Materials
Physical inputs
Equipments
Facilities
Spaces
Transportation
3526 Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
2. Research method
This research regarding the goal is applied, gathering data is surveying and from statistical standpoint is integrated
qualitative (less dominant) and quantitative (more dominant) research. Regarding the qualitative part of this research
30 technicians have been interviewed, The purpose of the interview was to become familiar with the main
challenges and problems mentioned by faculty members and technicians , these factors was integrated with the key
points of the past research literature, and a researchers made questionnaire with 34 questions was developed.
Statistical population was 2032 third and fourth year students of higher agricultural majors in University of Tehran ,
Agriculture and Natural resources campus at Alborz province, including Agricultural extension education,
agricultural economics , Agronomy ,Soil science, Horticulture, food industry, Agricultural machinery, plant
protection, Irrigation engineering, and animal husbandry. 335 students were selected as the sample population based
on using standard table of Krejcie & Morgans (1970). For estimating the validity of the questionnaire Cronbach’s
alpha was calculate and it was 0.916. The reason for selecting the sample from the third and fourth year students was
because they have passed the practical courses and is familiar with their strengths and weaknesses. Content
reliability was approved using expert opinion of faculty members of the University of Tehran, department of
Agricultural extension and education.
3. Results
3.1. Individual features
Based on data analysis of this research 61.5% (206 persons) are female, 38.5 % (129persons) are male, 94%
(215persons) are from cities and 6% (20 persons) from rural areas. 92.5 % (310 persons) were full time students
having no employment, 6.6% (13persons) half time employed and 0.9 % (3 persons) was full time employed. 8.1 %
(27 persons) of sample students were soil sciences’ major, 9.3 % (31persons) animal husbandry’s major, 11.9 %
agricultural engineering and mechanization’s major.9.9% (40 persons ) agronomy’s major , 9% (30 persons) Food
sciences’ major, 7.5% (25 persons ) agricultural extension and education’s major, 9% ( 30persons ) agricultural
economics’ major, 8.7 % (29persons) plant protection’s major , 17.6 % (59 persons) horticulture’s major, and 9.3%
(31persons) irrigation engineering’s major.
3.2. Students’ comprehension on the main challenges for presenting courses with acceptable quality
Students’ comprehensions about experiential learning are presented in the Table1. Ranking the Importance of the
variables indicates that students are concentrating their attention and energy just for passing the course instead of
concentrating on learning skills. Second important factor is insufficient budget for practical learning‘s development.
It is clear that many short-comes of practical learning can be solved by sufficient budgeting. Disproportion rate of
students and equipments has been in third rank. When equipments and facilities are not available, only some
students do the practical work and other will watch which not a proper experiential learning is. Paying low attention
to develop skills for being prepared for going to Master of Sciences level is also mentioned by students .Low access
to expensive equipment , low availability of facilities, Not enough working spaces, low attention of faculty
members’ participation in practical courses and low quality equipments available in the market are among
challenges of experiential learning at the colleges of agriculture in the university colleges of Agriculture and Natural
resources a branch of University of Tehran at Alborz province , Iran.
Table1. Students’ comprehension on the main challenges for presenting courses with acceptable quality
Rank C.V.S.D. Mean Challenges
10312.56 8.16 Concentrating on passing the practical course.
20.35 2.52 7.10 Insufficient budget.
30.36 2.63 7.22 Disproportion rate of the students and necessary equipments
40.37 2.81 7.44 Limited content of learning skills in practical courses
50.37 2.68 7.09 Using low cost equipment and facilities
60.38 2.54 6.63 Lack of necessary inputs for practical courses
70.41 2.80 6.71 Low participation of higher rank faculty members
80.42 2.81 6.55 Low usage of complementary training materials
Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
3527
Rank C.V.S.D. Mean Challenges
90.443 2.90 6.53 Limiting regulations for field trips
10 0.444 2.69 6.65 Usage of old equipments in the laboratories.
11 0.446 2.78 6.45 Not discussing learning outcomes after field trips.
12 0.453 3.03 6.69 Not paying attention to specialized skills such as SAS for students of Agronomy.
13 0.456 2.79 6.13 Insufficient transportation facilities.
14 0.456 2.88 6.32 Students from different majors attending same course.
15 0.461 2.88 6.23 Confining practical course to some outdoor visit.
16 0.468 2.86 6.10 Insufficient skilled technicians for teaching practical skills.
17 0.477 3.33 6.59 Insufficient visits from the rural areas.
18 0.484 3.10 6.42 Students not motivated because of low chances for employment after graduation.
19 0.522 3.22 6.20 Low access to computer and Internet at the laboratories and workshops.
20 0.492 2.96 6.01 Faculty members not motivated to update their practical skills.
21 0.494 2.98 6.03 Housing accommodations when going to field trips
22 0.505 3.04 6.01 Inappropriate course outlines.
23 0.512 2.91 5.66 On time maintenance of laboratory equipments.
24 0.515 2.87 5.58 Difficult access to laboratory materials for conducting experiments
25 0.519 2.90 5.59 Low access to skilful technician for maintenance of equipments.
26 0.530 2.87 5.41 Students not willing to do hard jobs of practical training.
27 0.536 3.04 5.68 Time consuming usage of the other organization’s facilities for learning skills.
28 0.547 3.12 5.69 Not evaluating each skill separately.
29
0.567 3.05 5.38 Overlapping skills and repeating same experiments by different faculty members.
30 0.593 3.25 5.48 Integrating the grade of practical course with theoretical part of the related course
31 0.594 3.35 5.64 Not presenting practical courses in flexible times.
32 0.597 3.08 5.17 Insufficient spaces for doing practical activities.
33 0.629 3.26 5.17 Conducting practical activities in inappropriate places.
34 0.646 2.97 4.59 Low quality educational aids, materials and equipments purchased from the market.
3.3. Problems in providing quality practical training in college
In this study exploratory factor analysis with data reduction approach was used. The main objective of this
technique is to classify a large number of variables into a small number of factors based on relationships among
variables. For this purpose 34 variables were selected for the analysis. To determine the appropriateness of data and
measure the homogeneity of variables on experiential learning from the viewpoints of students the Kaiser-Meyer-
Olkin (KMO) and Bartlett’s test measures were applied. These statistics show the extent to which the indicators of a
construct belong to each other. KMO and Bartlett’s test obtained for these variables show that the data are
appropriate for factor analysis as indicated in Table 2.
Table 2. KMO measure and Bartlett’s test to assess appropriateness of the data for factor analysis
KMO Bartlett’s test of sphericity
Approx. chi- square Sig.
0.885 4641.848 0.000
In present study out of 34 factors of experiential learning, only 30 factors were significantly loaded into four
components which explained 44.603 per cent of total variance of components of challenges of experiential learning
of students. However, the Kaiser criterion was utilized to arrive at a specific number of factors to extract. Based on
this criterion, only factors with eigenvalues greater than one were retained. Accordingly, for components with
eigenvalues over” one” was extracted, presented in table 3.
Table 3. Number of extracted factors, eigenvalues and variance explained by each component
component eigenvalue % of variance Cumulative % of variance
1 9.444
26.984 26.984
2 2.667
7.620 34.604
3 1.848
5.280 39.884
4 1.652
4.719 44.603
The percentage of trace (variance explained by each of the four components) is also shown in Table 3 the traces
for factor 1 through 4 are 9.444, 2.667, 1.848 and 1.652 respectively. The total percentage of the trace indicates how
well a particular component accounts for what all the variables together represent. This index for the present
solution shows that 44.603 percent of the total variance is represented by the variables contained in the components’
matrix.
3528 Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
Table 4. Variables loaded in the components using varimax rotated factor analysis
Name of
component
Variables loaded in the components
Factor
loadings
Insufficient
educational
spaces &
equipments
Lack of budget and Credit for providing equipment and facilities required for practical work 0.758
Lake of vehicles for carrying out practical works 0.692
lack of Students access to expensive devices (systems) 0.674
Lack of facilities for carrying out practical work 0.653
Difficulty of access to chemical laboratory for practical education 0.649
Referring to other research centres due to lack of necessary equipment and facilities in college 0.637
Lack of sufficient physical space for practical education 0.573
Existence of false equipment and facilities of practical education available in the market 0.499
Out datedness of equipment, devices and laboratory equipment such as microscopes, etc 0.498
less experienced
instructors and
technicians
Lack of teachers knowledge about new practical skills 0.718
Lack of timely repair of experimental (laboratory) devices 0.697
Lake of specialist for maintenance of devices and equipment 0.632
lake of skilled technicians for education of practical skills 0.630
Repetition of some experiments by teachers in different courses (lessons) 0.624
Inappropriateness of practical courses outline 0.567
Lack of sufficient attention paid by teachers to practical courses 0.531
The problem of Students settlement during practical visits 0.485
Not paying
attention to
parallel and
additional
experiences
Lack of paying attention to student practical skills for entering to the higher levels of education (Such as
MS and PhD)
0.727
Lack of access to computer and internet in places of occurring practical courses 0.673
Concentrating student's attention and energy on pursuing education rather than of learning new skills 0.585
Lack of discussion and analysis of visits 0.566
Lack of possibility to conduct practical courses during the evenings or holidays when students have more
time
0.547
Lack of attention to the necessary skills for teaching them in some courses (such as SAS for Students of
Agriculture ,etc)
0.543
Not using of complementary brochures and CD to complete practical training 0.496
Disproportion between the number of students with equipment ,materials and space available for practical
education
0.487
Insufficient class
management by
the Instructors
and technicians
Lack of separating the practical courses scores from theoretical ones 0.715
Lack of separate evaluation of some practical credits (such as visits , etc) 0.714
Lack of relationship with the village 0.637
Confining practical education to some outdoor visit 0.566
Presentation of Practical education simultaneously to students of different fields 0.552
Most of the variables on insufficient educational spaces & equipments were significantly loaded on first
component. Therefore, a logical name which can be assigned to this component was “Facilities”. The second
components included factors related to less experienced Instructors and Technicians with a logical name as
“Qualifications” The third component included factors related to not paying attention to parallel & additional
experiences, “Complementary experiences” and the fourth component included factors related to Insufficient class
management by the Instructors and Technicians with a logical name of “Management” .
4. Conclusions
In this section the conclusion and suggestions are presented. One of main challenges of experiential learning in
conducting practical courses is insufficient facilities. Laboratory and workshops do not have enough spaces for the
number of students enrolled in a given practical course. Low budgeting, insufficient transportation, students and
faculties not being motivated to present experiential learning opportunities with high quality.
The factor analysis’s results also indicate that for presenting high quality practical courses at the university the
main constraints are: not enough physical facilities, Equipments and physical spaces. These results are same as
findings of (McComas, 1970; Sutphin & Newcomb, 1983; Foster, 1986; Miller, 1993; Dxer & Osborne, 1995;
Leech, 2000; Dyer & et.al, 2003; Broyles, 2004; Yaghoobi & et.al, 2005; Arnold & et.al, 2006; lee, 2007; Fowler,
2008; Shabanali Fami & Safa, 2008; Warner & et.al, 2009). Other finding of this study indicates that many faculty
members and technicians are not well prepared regarding practical skills. Insufficient maintenance of equipments,
not enough skilled technicians are also some important challenges which must be in concern to be solved.
Saeede Nazari Nooghabi et al. / Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences 15 (2011) 3522–3530
3529
The main challenges and problems of conducting practical courses are (1) Insufficient educational spaces, (2) Less
experienced Instructors, (3) Not paying attention to parallel and additional experiences and (4) insufficient class
management by the instructors and technicians.
5. Suggestions
Some suggestions are as the following:
Providing on the job training for the Instructors.
Motivate students to learn skills instead passing the course.
Increase the budget.
Develop an up to date program for conducting practical courses.
Re- engineering the programs of the practical courses regarding Contents, Methods and physical settings.
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Supervised occupational experience (SOE) programs have been a part of vocational agriculture and agribusiness since its inception. The Smith-Hughes Act of 1917 provided federal funding for vocational agriculture and required ". . . directed or supervised practice in agriculture, either on a farm provided by the school or other farm, f o r a t least six months per year" (Stimson, 1919). Vocational agriculture and the industry of agriculture have changed dramatically since that time. However, the role of SOE in the comprehensive vocational agriculture program remains fundamentally the same (Barrick, 1981). Lee (1980) expressed concern that SOE in our vocational agriculture program was ". . . slipping away, and without it we would lose one of the pillars on which vocational education in agriculture/agribusiness has been built." If student participation in SOE is indeed slipping, steps must be taken to determine the factors affecting participation and implement programs to address those problems.