Investigating the Utilization of Research Evidence in the 4-H Youth Development Program

Lynette H. Bikos, Julia A. Kocheleva, Twyla Campbell, Ritesh Daryani, Sandeep Chahil, Terran Brown, Yolanda Winberg, Liz Pavese


This study investigated the acquisition, interpretation, and utilization of research evidence in the 4-H Youth Development Program from the frame of Social Cognitive Theory. Utilizing Consensual Qualitative Research, we interviewed twenty 4-H faculty, staff, and volunteers from seven states. Results indicated four domains, which covered participants’ definitions of research utilization, their experiences utilizing research, the process of acquiring and distributing research, and barriers and facilitators to research utilization. Participants described research use primarily in terms of improving 4-H programs. They discussed their level of confidence (i.e. self-efficacy) in finding and applying research evidence and their beliefs about the outcomes of research utilization (i.e. outcomes expectancy). Participants mentioned such barriers as not knowing where to look for research, lack of time, lack of funding, and difficulty applying research findings to their work. The facilitators included support from other 4-H colleagues and availability of 4-H specific conferences, publications, and curriculum databases.

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