Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



Perhaps the most influential device in modern society is the smartphone. Over 90% of Americans aged 18-29 own a smartphone and 74% of teenagers reported using a smartphone as their primary internet connection. Students perceived that using smartphones in the classroom aided learning. However, two-thirds of American high schools ban students from using phones in the classroom. Secondary science curriculum focuses on subjects that regard the biodiversity of plant and animal species, but disregard the student’s ability to identify species. Consequently, secondary students in general are very poor at identifying species of trees. Previous research supports the idea that advanced smartphone applications in student centered learning environments can improve achievement and motivation. There is little in the agricultural education literature pertaining to smartphone enhanced learning among secondary agriculture students. Further, no research has focused on the use of smartphone applications in forestry education at the secondary level. This dual-purpose study compared achievement levels between two groups of students in a forestry curriculum learning with smartphones or printed materials and determined motivational differences between groups. Specifically, one group of students used the smartphone apps Leafsnap, V-Tree, Tree Book, and Quizlet to identify leaf samples while a comparison group utilized Leaf Key to Common Trees of Louisiana (Dozier & Mills, 2005), Important Forest Trees of the Eastern United States (Brockman & Merrilees, 1991), and Louisiana Trees (Hodges, Evans & Garnett, 2015). A non-equivalent comparison group design was employed. Secondary agricultural students (n = 263) from 13 schools across Louisiana completed a criterion referenced pretest and post-test created by the researcher via Test Generator Web©. Motivation was measured using the Course Interest Survey (Keller, 2010). Data were analyzed using Hierarchical Linear Modelling (HLM) for fixed effects with maximum likelihood estimation to determine if any statistically significant differences existed between the groups in achievement or motivation. HLM accounted for differences between individual students in schools and prior knowledge. The analysis rendered no statistically significant differences between the groups in achievement or motivation. It was concluded that smartphones do not reduce learning and should be considered a learning enabler in agricultural education where policy permits.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Blackburn, Joey