An assessment of the computer-related skills needed and possessed by county extension professionals in the Mississippi State University Extension Service
Jackie Lynn Courson, Mississippi State University, United States
Doctor of Education, Mississippi State University . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to determine the computer-related skills needed and possessed by county Extension professionals in the Mississippi State University Extension Service. A mean weighted discrepancy (MWD) model developed by Borich (1980) was used to quantitatively prioritize computer-related skills for use in planning and designing inservice education programs for county professionals.
A descriptive survey research design was used in this study. A World Wide Web-based questionnaire was developed and used by respondents to submit response electronically. Respondents included 167 county Extension professionals in Mississippi who work as Agricultural agents, Family and Consumer Education agents, and 4-H Youth agents. Agents rated 42 computer-related skills on a Likert-type scale for importance to their jobs and their perceived competency level on each of the 42 skills.
Descriptive research techniques were used to describe the importance and competency level of computer skills. Kruskal-Wallis tests were used to determine if significant differences existed among the three groups of agents for importance, competence, and priority for training.
Overall, county Extension professionals perceived the majority of the 42 skills to be important or very important in performing their jobs. County professionals also perceived themselves to possess below average competency on the computer-related skills rated.
Transmitting and receiving e-mail, identifying basic computer components, utilizing the WWW to locate information sources, and utilizing word processing to edit and create material were rated as the most important skills. County Extension professionals were most competent in identifying computer components, connecting peripherals, setting up and printing to printers, and utilizing WWW browsers to locate information. The discrepancy model was utilized to determine computer skills that rated as high priority for inservice education. Creating WWW pages, utilizing digital cameras, having a working knowledge of copyright laws, and utilizing scanners were ranked highest.
Inservice education strategies should be developed for Extension agents that encompass computer-related skills identified as high priority using the discrepancy model. Important computer-related skills identified should also be incorporated into preservice curriculums in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to prepare potential Extension employees better.
Courson, J.L. An assessment of the computer-related skills needed and possessed by county extension professionals in the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Doctor of Education thesis, Mississippi State University.
Citation reproduced with permission of ProQuest LLC.
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