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Educational Integration of Federally Funded Agricultural Research Projects Open Access

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Opportunities exist to integrate agricultural research and teaching at land grant universities. Federal agencies that support agricultural research encourage grant recipients to take advantage of these opportunities. However, little information regarding funded research and teaching integration exists. This study examined if, how, and to what extent federally funded agricultural research projects are integrated into undergraduate and graduate educational programming. A gap in the literature made the project necessary, which included a lack of: (a) information on actual integrative activities, (b) studies aimed at the research project level, and (c) U.S.-based studies that are directly applicable to land grant university agricultural research.The study addressed (a) how frequently federally funded agricultural research projects are integrated into the educational mission of land grant universities, (b) which integration activities take place, (c) the extent to which individual projects are integrated, (d) how this integration differs at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and (e) the relationship between the characteristics of science and integrative activity. The study used Colbeck's cybernetic systems model as its conceptual framework and specifically tested Becher and Trowler's theory regarding disciplinary differences. This study provided only limited support for the theoretical proposition that a national context of greater research funding leads to research drift. Findings also suggest that biological science projects provide opportunities for undergraduate student research participation, which according to pervious literature, improves student academic experiences. Further research is called for regarding the value of these undergraduate experiences. Additional areas for future research include comparisons between purposefully integrated and conventional research projects, federal intramural and extramural research, a wider cross section of federal research programs, and the impacts of teaching integration.

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