Collaboratively evaluating cooperative extension educational interventions

Debb Webb, Dennis James Murphy, Nancy Ellen Kiernan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The Pennsylvania Central Region Farm Safety Pilot Program (PACRFSPP) provided an opportunity to explore several questions regarding university researchers and county agents working together to design, implement, and evaluate a multifaceted education evaluation project. All agents felt that their county's intervention was successful, and that, perhaps most important, they would continue to pursue using that intervention in future programming. They plan on expanding their safety programming in the future, using the information obtained from the intervention activities. Thus the question "Can county Extension benefit from participation in a formal university research project?" is answered in a very positive way. On the other hand, none of the agents would willingly become involved in another research project if the same recruitment process were used. Although the researchers and agents agree that farmers are generally more receptive to the request of a familiar county agent than to that of an unknown university researcher, the experience from this project suggests that recruitment of participants should remain the responsibility of researchers. Closely related to this is the issue of time commitment to the research project. Although all agents did spend the time necessary to successfully complete the project, it was not achieved without considerable sacrifice of other work responsibilities and without the researchers allowing considerable more time for activity completion. Thus the questions "Can university researchers maintain a specific, rigorous research protocol when implementation of the protocol rests largely with field educators?" and "Are agents able to devote adequate time to experimental programs as a part of their routine work load" were affirmed, but in a much less satisfactory manner. In the final analysis, despite some difficulties, researchers and agents did accomplish the primary goal of the research project, namely, to scientifically evaluate models of safety education. This result suggests that the Cooperative Extension System can successfully meet the challenge of formal program evaluation when university researchers and county agents work together.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Extension
Volume39
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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