As the structure of American agriculture has changed dramatically over the last three or four decades, the student population of agricultural colleges has undergone a corresponding shift (Legacy, et. al., 1979). From the time when the non-farm student was relatively unusual in the College of Agriculture, the student body of our colleges has markedly changed so that students with farm backgrounds are now sometimes in the minority. But these non-farm students may be at a disadvantage in programs that assume familiarity with rudimentary concepts and terminology of the agricultural production industry (Anderson and Elkins, 1978; Mayer, 1980). Equally important, both farm and non-farm students need to be exposed early-on in their academic careers to the attitude that the agricultural production sector is a vibrant, rapidly changing institution whose future participants will need considerable expertise and training.
Traditionally, the freshman orientation course in the agricultural college has provided an opportunity for students to be exposed to such concepts. In this paper we report an attempt to utilize computer-based instruction to facilitate accomplishment of these purposes in the introductory course in the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois. In this paper, we will discuss the development process for this program, its implementation, and student comments on this type of learning tool.
computer-based farming game, simulated farming