December 2004, Vol. 9, No. 3
ISSN 1540 5273

From uncertainty to support: communicating with new parents through newsletters

Many parents seek information as a way to cope with the uncertainties and challenges related to the birth of a child. Using an uncertainty reduction framework, a qualitative study was conducted to examine the effectiveness of newsletters as a means of communicating with new parents. Responses gathered from 223 new parents indicated that newsletters appear to enhance parent’s confidence, knowledge, and skills. Also, newsletters are seen as engaging, accessible, timely, and of high quality. Thus, given the relatively low cost of age-paced newsletters, they appear to be an effective way for parent educators to assist new parents. Full Text…

Small steps to health and wealth

Many Americans today have health and personal finance “issues” such as obesity, diabetes, low savings rates, and high household debt. Yet, health and finances are generally treated as separate topic areas in Cooperative Extension outreach programs and publications. This article describes similarities between these two topic areas and behavior change strategies that can be applied to both. It concludes with a description of a new curriculum, “Small Steps to Health and Wealth,” developed to motivate participants to simultaneously improve their health and finances. Full Text…

Reducing low-income women and children’s exposure to environmental tobacco smoke – a pilot project

Smoking rates in the state of Michigan are higher than in the rest of the nation (25.6 percent versus 23.5 percent nationally), and among adults with no more than 12 years of formal education, rates are even higher (30.6 percent). Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in the homes of these smokers could pose a major health problem for non-smokers, particularly children.

In this pilot project we investigated whether an educational intervention would improve knowledge, attitudes, and preventive efforts with respect to exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) among low-income women who are participants in a Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Sciences program. The effectiveness of the intervention was assessed through use of a pretest and posttest format. Comparison of pretest and posttest results revealed significant improvement in the women’s knowledge, attitudes, and preventive efforts with regard to exposure of themselves and their children to ETS. We were extremely encouraged by the results, which suggest that incorporating ETS education into Cooperative Extension programs can facilitate healthier behaviors and lifestyles for low-income women and their children, thus helping to reduce disease and save lives. Full Text…

Culturally respectful evaluation

Traditionally, researchers have used the term “cultural competence” when referring to the expertise needed when working with diverse populations. We believe it is important for practitioners to consider how competent evaluators can apply the ideals of cultural competence and in doing so, to view culture more broadly, including social and economic status, literacy levels, primary language, local political climate, and youth culture. This article highlights processes that evaluators can employ to successfully conduct respectful evaluations using a variety of strategies gleaned from our experiences. While the article describes specific situations to illustrate our conception of cultural respect, it is the authors’ hope that readers will be able to identify ways in which these strategies can apply in their own settings. The common thread running through all the examples is the development of a respectful relationship between evaluators and members of the group being evaluated. Full Text…

Creating a Financial Path to Graduation

The financial state of college students is in decline. Many financial education programs available are focused on K-12 populations. The Financial Path to Graduation is a program developed by Brigham Young University to enhance student awareness of financial decision-making and borrowing during one’s college years. The Financial Path to Graduation emphasizes both academic and financial planning during one’s education. Since inception of the program there have been overall declines in the number of federal student loan borrowers, as well as the overall student loan default rate at Brigham Young University. Full Text…



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