Aligning extension education curriculum at land grant universities with professional competencies : a Delphi study

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Agriculture


This descriptive study utilized a Delphi methodology to explore the career preparation of extension education students in the land grant university system through an analysis of current curriculum and its alignment with professional extension work competencies as identified by Harder, Place, and Scheer (in press). Academic professors in conjunction with Extension regional or district department heads were utilized to explore the professional competencies as they related to the preparedness of graduates and new hires, the hiring process, specific job skills, and courses within extension education degree programs. The purpose of the study was to explore current collegiate extension education curriculum and Extension professional competencies in order to improve the preparation of future extension agents and specialists across the nation. Twenty two different land grant universities were represented. Over 300 courses falling into 24 course categories at the undergraduate level and 18 at the graduate level were identified by extension education professors at LGU's that matched the 19 professional competencies presented. Extension administrators identified 65 different sub categories within the 19 competency areas outlining specific skills needed for successful careers in Extension. The conclusions reveal that by working together, Extension administrators and extension education professors can continue to improve their programs so that both will thrive and grow with the changing environment. Recommendations were made for further research in the areas of hiring practices and self reflection by professionals in both groups to analyze their own programs and practices. By utilizing the course categories and specific skills related to the professional competencies needed for success, both groups can work to improve existing programs and structures to ultimately reach success.




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