Date of Award

1992

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

First Advisor

Satish Verma

Abstract

Evaluating programs is a necessary and vital function in the management of all organizations. In 1988, the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service (LCES) began an intensive statewide process entitled "Issues Programming". This is a qualitative evaluation of that process. The study focused on the perceptions of extension agents and community leaders who participated in the process. Four focus group interviews were conducted, two each for agents and leaders. Geographic site selection provided for participant inclusion from all LCES administrative areas. The groups were asked a series of open ended questions designed to draw from them in-depth perceptions about the process in which they had participated. The sessions were audio and video recorded. The data consisted of the taped perceptions and moderator and researcher notes of the interviews. These data were analyzed by content analysis and individual question summaries and summary comparisons. Themes and perception patterns arose from the analysis. The process was perceived to be successful in that Extension in better recognized, has broader educational programs, has better coordination with local government, and is networking more with other agencies and organizations. Individual agent's people skills were enhanced, and agents give more value to in-staff coordination and desire additional training in volunteer leadership as a result of the process. The initial perception of agents was generally negative to the issues programming process. These perceptions resulted from, low morale at the time issues programming was initiated, lack of understanding of the process, resistance to changes required in agent roles, and resistance to a process in the planning of which they had not participated. These negative feelings affected the success of the process. Leaders and agents perceive the process as unfinished and suggest that it be completed. Recommendations for study include determining effective methods to involve agents in program planning, effective agent training methods, and ways of assisting agents to be more adaptable to role changes. Case studies of successful parish programs were also recommended. Recommendations for future programs call for the inclusion of the above findings as well as more extensive extension staff training and better trainer/administration coordination.

Pages

231

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