Degree Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2010

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Agricultural Education and Studies

First Advisor

Robert A. Martin

Abstract

The Cooperative Extension Service has been assisting American communities in solving problems and improving lives through various educational processes. The problems faced by rural and urban communities today are complex and specialized in nature. Therefore, extension educators should develop selected educational process professional competencies to conduct professional activities in extension and to meet the varied needs of their clientele.

This study determined the relative importance of 42 selected educational process professional development competencies as perceived by extension educators in the North Central Region of the United States and identified the time when these competencies should be learned. These competencies were categorized under the four educational processes needed to conduct professional activities in extension: needs assessment/analysis and program development, learning systems, delivery systems and evaluation systems.

This descriptive study employed a simple random survey design to explore the perceptions of extension educators. The target population for the study consisted of all extension educators in the North Central Region from which a random sample of 811 extension educators was selected. A closed-form questionnaire that was used as the instrument to collect data was electronically mailed to respondents using Survey-Monkey. The findings of the study were derived from the responses of 441 respondents. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data based on demographic characteristics, perceptions of extension educators, and the time when each competency should be learned. Independent samples t-test, analysis of variance and correlations were used to determine differences in perceptions based on the demographic characteristics.

This study revealed that the extension educators perceived the majority of the educational process professional competencies (81%) as highly important for their professional development. They preferred to learn many competencies on-the-job through practice and experience. Beyond the educational process competencies, some extension educators also suggested their need to learn other competencies such as, people skills and organizational management.

Significant differences in the perceptions between females and males and between age groups 24 - 29 years and ≥ 60 years was observed for some of the professional competencies included in this study. However, the partial correlation coefficients revealed that the contribution of the respondents' demographic characteristics for the perceived importance of educational process professional competencies was only about 4%, which was too low to be considered for practical importance.

The findings indicated that the majority of the extension educators in the North Central Region were well experienced middle-aged females with master's degrees. And some respondents in this study came to join the Cooperative Extension Service to become extension educators after their careers in other professions.

It was recommended that the professional competencies indicated to be best learned in a graduate program should be included in designing educational process courses in the land-grant universities and colleges of the North Central Region.

The perceived high importance for the professional competencies included in this study confirms the potential and need for designing professional development programs for extension educators focused on the educational processes. Based on the findings, a professional development model was proposed to contribute to the professional growth and development of the extension educators in the North Central Region.

Copyright Owner

Nav Raj Ghimire

Language

en

Date Available

2012-04-30

File Format

application/pdf

File Size

196 pages

Share

COinS