Life knowledge precepts and their effect on understanding of student content
Research of the science of learning has unveiled the need to teach for understanding. In the same scope, it has been noted that students’ pre‐existing knowledge can affect how they acquire new knowledge. The need for action research became evident when analyzing below average assessment scores of students in early units of a tenth grade, agriculture biology course. The apparent lack of understanding prompted implementation of action research encompassing teaching for understanding while utilizing students’ prior knowledge. Life knowledge is a curriculum released by the National FFA Organization and is designed for integration into agricultural courses. Student test groups were taught small content units with and without Life Knowledge Precepts and were assessed at the close of each unit. Qualitative observations were made noting student engagement, interest and understanding during the units for comparison. Assessment performance and observations during unit instruction were compared to determine if Life Knowledge instruction leads to higher level content knowledge and higher levels of student engagement. The results of the trial showed assessments following Life Knowledge instruction appear to be more effective in holding student interest and attention. It was further noted that it is most effective to teach Life Knowledge at the beginning of a unit rather than at the end. Observation of student behavior during the trial suggested students were more engaged by Life Knowledge and less resistant to participation in class activities when Life Knowledge was used.