Beliefs of Science Educators Who Teach Pesticide Risk to Farmworkers

January 1st, 2013 | RESEARCH

Informal science educators play a key role in promoting science literacy, safety, and health by teaching pesticide toxicology to the large, at-risk Latino farmworker population in the United States (US). To understand the experiences of informal science educators and the nature of farmworker education, we must have knowledge of farmworker educators' beliefs, yet little is known about these beliefs and how beliefs about teaching, pesticide risk, and self-efficacy might influence teaching environments and practices and potentially inform the field of informal science education. In this exploratory, descriptive case study, we used questionnaires and interviews to investigate the teaching, pesticide risk, and self-efficacy beliefs of 19 farmworker educators in one southeastern US state, identifying salient personal, behavioral, and environmental factors that influence beliefs using Bandura's (1986) model of reciprocal determinism. We found that two distinct groups of farmworker educators emerged based on work affiliation. Health care and advocacy educators typically had more learner-focused beliefs, greater concern about pesticide risks, and lower self-efficacy. In contrast, state agency and Cooperative Extension/university educators expressed more teacher-focused beliefs, less cautious pesticide risk beliefs, and higher self-efficacy. Three factors emerged as important influences on these informal educators' beliefs: quantity of lessons provided, shared language with learners, and experience with handling pesticides. Study implications include recommendations for future work in informal science education research to explore the role of educators' authentic experiences with science, the significance of educators' institutional affiliations, and the prevalence of low self-efficacy among educators.


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Team Members

Catherine LePrevost, Author, North Carolina State University
Margaret Blanchard, Author, North Carolina State University
W. Gregory Cope, Author, North Caroline State University


Identifier Type: issn
Identifier: 1306-3065
Identifier Type: doi
Identifier: 10.12973/ijese.2013.221a

Publication: International Journal of Environmental & Science Education
Volume: 8
Number: 4
Page(s): 587

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Access and Inclusion: English Language Learners | Ethnic | Racial | Hispanic | Latinx Communities | Low Socioeconomic Status
Audience: Adults | Educators | Teachers
Discipline: Education and learning science | Health and medicine
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Community Outreach Programs | Public Programs