Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Philip Shackelford, Regional Program Leader for Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H and Youth Development, Southeast Region, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
When executing the PIE Program Change Model (figure 1), it is critical to develop clear and ambitious program objectives. The PIE Change Model is designed to assist Extension educators to establish higher level objectives and consequently result in high level of clientele change.
Figure 1. PIE Program Change Model.
The objectives for the transformative educational programs implemented utilizing the PIE Program Change Model should be from the application category. Application involves long-term changes in a person’s actions as a result of an educational intervention. The three levels of application are behavior change, best practice adoption, and new technology adoption.
Measurable objectives are utilized to provide direction for a program (Seever & Graham, 2012). Writing measurable objectives enables Extension educators to:
The SMART format can be utilized for developing measurable objectives (Seever & Graham, 2012). The SMART format is an acronym used interchangeably with “measurable” (Seever & Graham, 2012). SMART objectives follow a prescribed format that is designed to make evaluating programs possible (Seever & Graham, 2012). According to Rockwell and Bennett (1995), an evaluation focuses on the process, outcomes, or impact of a program.
SMART objectives are typically written to facilitate the measurement of outcome, or changes in behavior changes, best practices adopted or new technology adopted. Figure 2 below explains each of the letters in the SMART acronym (Seever & Graham, 2012):
Figure 2. SMART format to develop objectives.
A example of a situational analysis and objectives associated with SMART objectives are provided below.
The challenge for agriculture over the next few decades will be meeting the world’s increasing demand for food and fiber in a sustainable manner. In Cow Country County, more than 90,000 head of beef cattle are produced with an economic impact of more than $85,000,000. One of the keys to profitable beef cattle production is the nutrition management of the cow herd. The proper nutrition of beef cattle is a key component of a successful production system. Feed usually accounts for the single largest input cost associated with beef cattle production. Nutrition impacts numerous aspects of a beef cattle production system including reproduction efficiency, calving intervals, and calf vigor at birth.
A production practice inventory survey was administered to program participants (clientele who registered for the course) before the program was initiated. It was determined that less than 15% of participants utilized body condition scoring to distinguish differences in nutritional needs of beef cows in the herd. Research indicates that there is a correlation between the body condition of a cow and her reproductive performance. The percentage of open cows, calving interval, and calf vigor at birth are all closely related to the body condition of cows, both at calving and during the breeding season. All these factors play an important role in the economics of a beef cow-calf operation and help determine the percentage of viable calves each year. Monitoring body condition using the Body Condition Score System is an important managerial tool for assessing production efficiency.
The production practice survey administered to program participants also indicated that only 20% of the participating cattle producers understood the nutrient needs of beef cows prior to the breeding season or during the calving season. It also indicated that less than 30% utilized soil testing to analyze nutrient needs in pastures and that the average calving percentage was 82% for participant’s herds.
The following example provides written objective using the SMART format. At the conclusion of educational programs in one year producers participating in an beef cattle nutrition program the following program objectives will be met:
An effective method to assess the quality of objective is to utilize the following checklist provided by Harder and Israel (2011).Ask yourself the following questions when assessing how effective an objective is to your program. Does the objective:
SMART objectives should be written that are specific, achievable, realistic, and have a specific time-line for completion. Extension educators who utilize SMART objectives will have the capacity to more effectively plan and evaluate programs (Seever & Graham, 2012).
Harder, A., & Israel, G. (2011). Strengthening program development competencies. USAID. Retrieved from http://www.meas-extension.org/meas ofers/training/strengtheningprogramdevelopmentcompetencies.
Bennett, C., & Rockwell, K. (1995, December). Targeting outcomes of programs (TOP): An integrated approach to planning and evaluation.Unpublished manuscript. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska.
Seevers, B., & Graham, D. (2012). Education through Cooperative Extension. (3rd ed.). Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Bookstore.