An examination of agricultural education pre-service student teachers' explanatory style, beliefs and expectations about teaching, and Strengths Finder profiles
Cooper, Katie Logan
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The purpose of this study was to examine levels of optimism and pessimism along with the beliefs and expectations of teaching in agricultural education pre-service teachers, and to compare these findings to that of the Gallup Organization's StrengthsFinder® profiles. The states included in this study were Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. The data for this study was collected using web based survey instruments. The population consisted of 61 pre-service agricultural education students. These students were enrolled in an agricultural education teaching methods class during the Fall 2002 semester, and planned on student teaching in a high school agricultural education program during the Spring or Fall 2003 semesters. A demographic survey, the Beliefs and Expectations about the First Year of Teaching, and the Academic Attributional Style Questionnaire (AASQ) were posted on a web site. The StrengthsFinder® instrument was used by providing each respondent a copy of the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton, 2001) and was found at a Gallup organization web site. Overall, respondents believed that they will perform better at the teaching tasks as outlined in the Beliefs and Expectations about the First Year of Teaching than their peers. Only three respondents were excessively pessimistic and only five respondents were overly optimistic as reported by the results of the AASQ. The top five first strengths on the StrengthsFinder® profile as reported by the respondents were: "Adaptability", "Input", "Achiever", "Learner" and "Developer". Collectively, when the respondents were examined by looking at all three questionnaires, no overly pessimistic theme strengths were identified as measured by the AASQ and the Beliefs and Expectations surveys. A regression analysis, using a step-wise method was conducted. Only one independent variable, "scholarship" had a significant influence on the AASQ scores. StrengthsFinder® themes "Intellection", "Relator", and "Woo" were identified as being overly optimistic, as measured by the AASQ. All groups felt that they would perform better than their peers at the teaching tasks presented by the Beliefs and Expecations instrument except the StrengthsFinder® theme "Restorative". This group scored a 0.00, meaning the respondents think they will perform the same as their peers.