An evaluation of concerns of extension field faculty in western states regarding renewable energy education as it pertains to programmatic design and implementation
Hamlen, Sarah Ann.
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Demand for information and educational programming on the topic of renewable energy continues to grow within Extension. In this study, evidence showed that Extension was not addressing educational demands on the subject. Using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model as a theoretical framework, this study sought to identify concerns of Extension educators in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado that influence programmatic efforts in renewable energy. The objectives of the study were to: 1) measure the levels of faculty engagement in renewable energy education 2) describe the concerns (as defined by the Concerns-Based Adoption Model) of Extension educators regarding renewable energy education, 3) determine whether field faculty concerns differ by the primary job function, and 4) identify concerns of subgroups that may influence program involvement with renewable energy education. The study was conducted using a census of Extension educators (n=307) in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado in October 2011. Using an electronic, web-based Stages of Concern Questionnaire (SoCQ) survey, the study had a response rate of 41% (n=126). Quantitative methods of analysis included SoCQ profile comparisons, High Stage Score and Second High Stage Score analysis, analysis-of-variance (ANOVA), and Tukeys post hoc t-test analysis for significant results in the ANOVA analysis. Across all job functions and subgroups analyzed, faculty indicated a 99% Unconcerned, or Stage 0 Concern, and profiled as "non-users" of the innovation "renewable energy programming". Results reflected a general lack of knowledge and awareness about renewable energy programming, followed by strong personal concerns about adopting this change. While three subgroups indicated potential negative dispositions to renewable energy programming, the majority of faculty were positively disposed but indicated a "nonuse" state. Therefore, Extension educators had little or no knowledge of or involvement with the innovation, and were doing little to become more involved. Based on these results, recommended change management strategies for the Extension organization were generated. These strategies focus on the need for clear definition of "renewable energy programming" and the determination of acceptable levels of field faculty engagement.