This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

HEARING Safety Across Agricultural Education: A Three-Study Evaluation of Student Perceptions and Understanding of HEARING Safety




Hancock, Garrett

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Curriculum and Teaching


The behavior relating to safety practices seen in agriculture, especially involving hearing, highlights a critical concern when examined. This dissertation reviews three studies focusing on the attitudes, perceptions, and safety practices regarding sound concerns and hearing protection use in agricultural mechanics laboratories. These studies collectively emphasize the gap in students' understanding and application of hearing safety practices, despite the known risks associated with high decibel (dB) exposure from tools in an agricultural setting. The first study examines the inconsistency between students' perceptions of noise levels and the actual dB output of tools within a university-based agricultural mechanics laboratory. By incorporating both direct and indirect exposure through project-based learning and informational posters, correct identification of hearing protection used based on their own identified thresholds improved. The data indicated a narrowing perception gap, demonstrating an increase in the recognition of decibel outputs compared to one’s perceived willingness to use hearing protection. Continuing this investigation, the second study builds on the project by examining students' safety practices within a university-based agricultural mechanics setting. Despite alignment with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's recommended hearing protection threshold, a concerning disconnect between intention and practice was revealed, highlighting the need for further education and research on knowledge and application gap. The third study extends this research into a school-based agricultural education setting, emphasizing the knowledge gap among secondary-students regarding hearing protection. While the study confirmed an improvement in students' understanding and intended behavior towards hearing safety through indirect exposure, the variation in intended and proper use of hearing protection for commonly used power tools suggests an inadequacy in the safety educational process or lack of accepted safety culture among these students. Together, these studies highlight the need for targeted curriculum development in agricultural education to address hearing safety awareness and practice. Through the use of direct and indirect exposure, reflective learning, and continuous reinforcement of safety practices, there is potential to significantly enhance the safety culture across agricultural education, ultimately reducing the risk of hearing loss and empowering safer agriculturalists.