The impact of undergraduate students' perceived efficacy on academic performance in a livestock nutrition course

The drastic growth and diversification of post-secondary agricultural programs around the nation heightens the need for instructors to evaluate the effectiveness of curriculum for the incoming millennial generation. Fueled by changing demographics, the disconnect between consumers and producers appears to expand yearly. Additionally, recent technological advances and urbanized student demographics creates a need to re-assess curriculum in traditional agricultural programs, including animal science curricula. The role of student efficacy for millennial students in agricultural environments may impact student performance and thus career readiness. Evaluating the impact of course curriculum on student confidence and academic performance ensures that animal science programs produce successful graduates for the agriculture industry. Therefore, objectives of this study evaluated the impact of a redesigned undergraduate livestock nutrition course at California State University, Chico on academic self-efficacy and academic performance, to determine the role and impact of 21st century teaching methods on student confidence and performance as observed through livestock nutrition concepts. Data were collected and analyze to explore: student demographics, academic performance and perceived self-efficacy in pre- and post testing, and effectiveness of course assignments to determine total impact of the redesigned course. Results show a large proportion of students in the ANSC 230 class were female, animal science majors that were equally divided between urban and rural backgrounds. Students also increased self-efficacy after completing the ANSC 230 course indicating the redesigned course positively impacted livestock nutrition self efficacy. A positive correlation was identified between final course grade and self efficacy scores and academic performance was positively correlated between final grade exam scores and initial case study grades. Finally, an increase in student confidence at the conclusion of the semester was observed; thus, influencing academic performance. Cumulatively, the redesigned course curriculum effectively increases overall livestock nutrition self-efficacy and is an adequate predictor of academic performance (i.e., course grade) in undergraduate students. Previous research explored in the field of education established the validity of self-efficacy as a predictor of academic performance, but a lack of inquiry into context specific domains within agricultural programs created a need for further exploration of the topic. Additional research is required to evaluate the effectiveness of post-secondary animal science curriculum. It is recommended that the researcher-developed survey be explored in additional classroom environments and college campuses. Also, random sampling of more extensive research populations and inclusion of additional agriculture courses may support the effectiveness of alternative teaching methodologies designed to engage 21st century students. This evaluation could assist post-secondary agricultural programs produce confident and successful graduates for the agriculture industry.