Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Understanding the demographic profile and previous knowledge base of students enrolled in the introduction to animal science course is critical for developing curriculum to enhance student learning. During the fall 2019 semester, students (n=414 of 519) enrolled in the introduction to animal science course at three universities in the Midwest region were evaluated with the objectives of identifying demographic variables and their relation to pre-course and post-course animal agriculture and livestock perceptions. The findings showed that 68% of respondents were female, 58% were animal science majors, and 55% were from hometowns with less than 20,000 people in the population. Forty-eight percent and 36% indicated to have previous agriculture exposure and involvement through FFA and 4-H, while 43% and 55% had no previous involvement in FFA and 4-H, respectively. Companion animals (e.g. dogs and cats) and beef cattle were nearly 50% of students’ species of interest. Additionally, 34% of students felt they had extensive knowledge of companion animals, while 19% indicated they had extensive knowledge in beef cattle and 17% in equine. Students indicated to have the least amount of knowledge in sheep and exotic animals. In addition to species, students indicated their degree of previous knowledge in animal science disciplines. Students (20%) perceived to have extensive knowledge in welfare and well-being but lacked in breeding and genetics. Majority of students recognized animal agriculture as an important industry in their state and were supportive of the growth and expansion of the livestock industry. When asked to respond to statements pertaining to livestock operations, students (49%) strongly agree the use of captive bolt to stun beef and dairy cattle prior to slaughter is acceptable and it is save for livestock producers to perform castration using banding or surgical procedures. Overall, there were pre-course findings that were statistically significant among the demographic profiles of students and their perceptions of livestock operations in the United States, but few post-course findings demonstrated statistical significance. This research suggests the importance of developing curriculum that meets the desires and needs of current students enrolled in an introduction to animal science course.
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