Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hock, Gaea A.

Committee Member

Sexton, Julie S.

Committee Member

Wells, Debbie K.

Committee Member

White, Ronnie W.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Agricultural and Extension Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


School of Human Sciences


Attrition of secondary agricultural education professionals is a major concern to the educational system in the United States. A number of studies have documented that attrition is a very serious problem, especially for beginning teachers during his or her first years on the job. As the need for teachers continues to grow, it becomes progressively more difficult for school administration to recruit, identify, and hire highly qualified secondary agricultural education teachers. The purpose of this study was to examine the attrition risk factors among secondary agricultural education teachers in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee and the region as a whole. Specifically, this study was designed to identify and describe secondary agricultural educators who are at-risk for leaving the profession based on the four constructs; alternative career opportunities, expectations versus realities, people frustrations and passions for the profession. In addition, the numbers of years of service and gender differences were examined. A stratified random sample (n = 583) of the population (N = 2,667) received the email questionnaire (33.6% response, n = 196). Participants were described as males (62%) having a minimum of a traditional four-year degree (73%) and an average of 13 years of teaching experience. The majority of secondary agricultural education teachers in the study possessed high levels of attrition risk as related to expectations versus realities, followed by moderate risks of alternative career opportunities and people frustrations. However, teachers in the study indicated a very low risk for attrition when analyzing passions for the profession. Participants indicated the state of residence had no significant implication on the overall risk of attrition, alternative career opportunities, expectations versus realities, or passions for the profession. Statistically significant results were on the construct, people frustrations, between Georgia and Mississippi and Georgia and Tennessee. Overall, the region was assessed as a moderate risk of attrition (M = 2.76). No significant relationships were found between sex and attrition risk, or number of years in the profession and attrition risk.