Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Agricultural Education

First Advisor

Levon T. Esters

Committee Member 1

Lynn A. Bryan

Committee Member 2

Mark Tucker


One of the goals in today's society is to ensure that students exiting school have the ability to understand, develop, and comprehend scientific information. For students to be able to meet these goals, it is imperative that they become scientifically literate and understand the concept of the Nature of Science (NOS). The discipline of Agricultural Education has strong connections with science and today many students are earning science credit and developing science understanding through Agricultural Education courses. If students are continuing to gain science mastery through their Agricultural Education courses, they should also be gaining adequate conceptions of science and the NOS. Overall, many studies have indicated that students exiting the K-12 education system lack these vital skills and understanding.

The purpose of this study was to explore the conceptions of the NOS of advanced agriculture students in Indiana. This study explored the conceptions of agricultural science students before and after taking a semester of an advanced life science course (N =48). Conceptions were explored through a qualitative case study utilizing the VNOS-C questionnaire. Responses were coded into one of three categories: Naïve, Emerging, or Informed. Demographic data were also collected and analyzed. Overall, results of this study indicate that students in advanced agricultural science courses lack NOS understanding. The study's conclusions are discussed along with implications for theory, research and practice in addition to future directions for research.