Adult Education and Extension Capacity Building

Program lead: Mary Halbleib, Integrated Plant Protection Center

We partner with extension agents and other cooperators through grant and contract-funded joint programs, to foster skills in education program design and delivery, and develop effective program evaluation that connects directly to stakeholder-expressed needs. Through focused IPM projects, we explore the role of targeted information and active learning in order to deepen our understanding of the role that education can play in resolving problems.

The goals of this program include:

  • The refinement of learner-centered education approaches that incorporate the latest science and necessary skills to increase resiliency at the farm-level.
  • Create powerful mechanisms to engage with Extension faculty in Oregon and beyond to accelerate learning and to partner in forming new networks.
  • Develop program impact evaluation to document changes and new possibilities through IPM adoption.

The “Adult Education and Capacity Building” program comprises two main projects: Adaptive Learner-Centered Education, and IPM Program Impact Evaluation. The origins of this program are explored in the iSNAP project.

Adaptive Learner-Centered Education (ALCE):

Adaptive Learner-Centered Education (ALCE) programs are developed in partnership with learners to meet their expressed needs, informed by the latest science. We are employing this method to address recalcitrant problems that require development of new decision-making skills, particularly where difficult trade-offs must be considered.

ALCE is underpinned by both cognitive and social theories of constructivism. It ensures that learning can be both a personal experience, where individuals’ mental models and past experience are challenged by new information, and a shared experience that is synergized by joint discovery.

We are adapting ALCE for use with Extension agents to pursue areas of joint interest with farming groups that advance IPM.  We seek to integrate best practices for adult education with program evaluation to amplify the benefits of outreach to farmers and other stakeholders.

IPM Program Impact Evaluation:

Evaluation is an essential component of all IPPC programs to capture and report project-level learning and to validate progress towards the intended outcomes.

To support extension agents and others nation-wide in gaining skills in measuring the impact of their programs, Mary is co-developing A Toolkit for Assessing IPM Outcomes and Impacts. By encouraging use of this framework, and through mentoring in program evaluation, Oregon Extension agents improve their capacity to capture changes in outcomes over time, and to adaptively manage their education programs.