University of Maryland Extension

Evaluation

Results from initial evaluation

From the beginning, the AGsploration project team knew that evaluation would need to be a central part of the program. Formative and summative data were collected during the program development phase (2010-2013) in order to demonstrate changes in participants’ knowledge, attitudes, skills, and abilities. Formative results were used to make appropriate changes to the curriculum, evaluation instruments, and the entire evaluation process as a whole.

 

Demographics

Initial evaluation data reveals that most students reached attend public schools (78%), are between the ages of 7 and 13 (70%), and are almost evenly split among male and female. While the majority of the youth identify as White (59%), there is a significant percentage of African American/Black (16%), Hispanic/Latino (3%), and 22% identifying as other or multiple (reported more than one race). This data created confidence that the program is effective with students across a wide range of settings.

 

Attitudes about science

Using pre- and post-assessment, approximately 1,500 students were asked across all of the content modules about their level of agreement or disagreement concerning whether they liked science; were good at science; believed that science was useful for solving everyday problems; and believed that agriculture was part of science and beneficial to them, their family, and their community. On average, students indicated an increase of at least 21% and at most 36% in the post-assessment for all of these questions. Additionally, 25% indicated wanting to pursue an agriculture- or science-related career after graduating from high school.

Percent of Students Reporting an Improved Attitude

Increase in content knowledge

Data also shows that students increased their knowledge about the agricultural topics covered by the modules. The evaluations indicate an increase in knowledge at the following levels: 58% for production agriculture topics, 42% for environmental topics, and 43% for health and nutrition topics. Increase of specific knowledge areas within each lesson ranged from a low of 26% to a high of 73%.

Through this project, educators have learned the impacts and results of AGsploration on increasing participants’ appreciation of Maryland agriculture and agriculture-related educational and career opportunities. Data shows that the AGsploration program increases participant’s interest in STEM, enhances their attitudes about STEM and their STEM competencies, and promotes educational and career aspirations in STEM fields. Evaluations have also uncovered best practices, created input for future program planning, provided direction for resource and professional development, and identified priorities for national curriculum development.

Percent Average Increase in Content Knowledge

Direction for future evaluation

Medium-term evaluation is currently underway in order to identify whether participation in AGsploration has a lasting effect on students' preception about agriculture, interest in agriculture and science, and likliehood to seek post-secondary education or employment in a science or agriculture-related field.

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