Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Agricultural Education and Studies
Michael S. Retallick
The field of agricultural education has experienced a consistent labor shortage the past several decades. Consequently, many school districts struggle to fill their open positions, while others are forced to shut down their agricultural programs completely due to inadequate staffing. Research indicates teacher attrition as a predominant factor behind the teacher shortage. The purpose of this mixed-methods study was to determine why agricultural educators are leaving the profession and identify potential action steps to alleviate the problem. Specific objectives included: (1) identify factors influencing current agricultural educators’ decision to leave or stay in the profession; (2) determine factors associated with former agricultural educators’ final decision to leave the profession; and (3) identify factors that would influence an agricultural educator to stay in, and a former agricultural educator to return to, the profession.
Researchers developed and administered questionnaires, as well as conducted interviews, to gather data from agricultural educators currently in the profession and with those who have already left the profession for alternative employment. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyze the quantitative component of the study. Open-coding was utilized to reveal concepts and develop themes for the qualitative component of the study.
Results indicate agricultural educators are satisfied with their careers and significant differences did not exist between those contemplating leaving and those who were not. However, differences existed between groups in areas related to recognition and school policy and administration. Furthermore, the data revealed mid-career agricultural educators experience similar frustrations as teachers in other professional life stages; however, they seem to struggle more with balancing their personal and professional lives due to changing family dynamics. Researchers discovered personal factors were the leading contributor to all former teachers’ decision to leave the profession. Interestingly, compensation was deemed the lowest contributor. Moreover, significant differences were identified between novice and experienced teachers in several areas. Unrealized expectations and the belief of being an excellent agricultural educator and having a satisfying personal life are incompatible, surfaced as underlying factors as to why a teacher leaves the profession. To increase retention rates, the profession must provide teachers additional support in addition to creating a philosophical shift towards a more sustainable model which is mindful of out-of-classroom expectations.
Solomonson, Jay, "Determining why agricultural educators are leaving the profession and how to increase the retention rate" (2017). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16218.