Group Mapping in a 4-H Camp Mixed-Methods Evaluation

Vikram Koundinya, Jenna Klink, Joanna Skluzacek, Claire Barrett, Cristina Chiarella

Abstract


A week-long residential 4-H Agri-science youth camp had the goal of increasing understanding of agriculture as a system, however evaluating such a complex construct is difficult by adopting any one data-collection method. This paper presents the methods used in the evaluation of the camp and how these methods enhanced the overall program evaluation. The camp introduced 28 students, who were about 12 years of age from rural and urban counties of Wisconsin to the different aspects of the agricultural system, and promoted understanding of the connections among the various system components. The study utilized a mixed-methods triangulation design with group mapping (qualitative and quantitative), participant observation (qualitative), student reflections in the form of group presentations (qualitative), and retrospective post-then-pre surveys (quantitative) to measure and assess the anticipated outcomes. The qualitative assessment of the maps from Days 1 to 5 showed a significant improvement in students’ understandings of the interconnections of farm systems, which was validated by quantitative assessment of maps. Participant observation revealed that the camp provided students with a rich experiential learning experience and identified areas of improvement such as coordination of efforts between the different camp instructors. Student reflections and the end-of-camp survey indicated that the students increased their knowledge and skill levels as a result of attending the camp. The mixed-methods design used in this study serves as an example for designing better quality youth and Extension education program evaluations, as well as programs where the goal is to increase participants’ understandings of complex systems.


Keywords


4-H camp; evaluation; mixed methods; systems thinking; complex systems

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2020.891

Copyright (c) 2020 Vikram Koundinya, Jenna Klink, Joanna Skluzacek, Claire Barrett, Cristina Chiarella

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