Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Minchew, Sue

Committee Member

Hare, Dwight

Committee Member

Hamil, Burnette Wolf

Committee Member

Wolverton, Sr., Robert E.

Committee Member

Lestrade, Patricia M.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Secondary Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction


As the inclusion of Hispanic labor in the Mississippi workforce increses, it is necessary to prepare our students to communicate with these workers. The purpose of this study was to determine the attitude toward Spanish speakers, their culture, and the study of Spanish among agricultural students at Mississippi State University. The study also sought to discover cultural differences that could affect communication between American managers and the Hispanic workforce.The Friedman (1997) questionnaire was administered to 204 students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Additionally, open interviews were conducted with 10 participants: four Mexican Hispanci workers, two community leaders, two students, a crew leader, and a farmer. In regard to students' attitude toward foreign language learning, the results suggested that agricultural students at Mississippi State University have a positive attitude toward study of the language. Results revealed that students have considerably high instrumental motivation, but not integrative motivation. The results also revealed that the students have fairly stereotypical perceptions of native Spanish speakers and their culture; among the most marked stereotype found was the perception that Spanish speakers are hard workers. A few of the stronger sterotype found in previous study and portrayed by the media, were not so obvious in this study. Among these the perceptions of Hispanics as lazy (Cozens 1981; Jackson, 1995; Marin, 1984) and tardy (Friedman 1997; Marin 1984; Ortu(&ntild);o, 1991) the former was not found in this study,students surveyed were undecided about the latter. Like previous studies (Cozens, 1981; Friedman, 1997; Jackson, 1995; Marin, 1984)this study revealed that American students surveyed tended to think of hispanics as poor, dirty, conservative, and non-materialistic. They also assumed Hispanics live in non-developed areas. Interviews revealed Americans assume that everybody is literate in his or her own language, and that Spanish is the only language among Mexicans and Central Americans. American interviwees also had difficulty recognizing hierarchy among workers, and a different connotation in alcohol consumption. In addition, they did not understand that in the Hispanic culture respect is more personal than in the USA.



Foreign Language||Agriculture||Culture||Motivation||Stereotypes