May 2005, Vol. 10, No. 1
ISSN 1540 5273

The influence of a paraprofessional, home-visitation program on parenting behaviors.

Dawn A. Contreras, Ph.D.


Home visitation has long been used to facilitate skill-building within clientele. Empirical studies have shown that the efficacy of home-based parent education varies with the characteristics of the intervention, participants, and intended outcomes. Research is needed to determine the variables that are the most salient in meeting the needs of diverse groups of parents.

This study investigated whether low-income parents involved in a home-visiting program taught by paraprofessionals would show greater increases in positive parenting behaviors than a comparison group of parents. Parents in the intervention group participated in Michigan State University Extension’s Building Strong Families parenting program. Parents in the comparison group were randomly selected from program waiting lists. Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) and paired t-tests were used to assess differences between pre-test and post-test scores. The results showed that parents who participated in the parenting program had greater improvements in parenting behaviors than a comparison group of parents. Full Text…

Development and evaluation of a computer decision exercise for consumer participation in insurance benefit planning.

Marion Danis, M.D., Mike Nowak, MILS, Ellen Benavides, MHA, Susan Dorr Goold, MD, MHSA, MA.


The need for cost containment often forces prioritization of insurance benefits, yet consumers, who have much at stake, have limited options for determining these priorities. We designed and evaluated a computerized, interactive decision tool that groups of employees and other consumers can use to learn about and participate in the design of health insurance benefit packages.

The exercise includes a game board displaying benefit options and markers representing monthly premium to be used to select benefits, information describing benefit options, and randomly distributed health events to illustrate the consequences of selections. An accompanying program allows modification of the benefit options, premium, and health events. Users with a range of computer experience, education, and income found the exercise easy to use, informative, and enjoyable. The majority reported being satisfied with the group’s benefit package decision. The exercise offers a helpful strategy for educating and involving consumers in selection of health insurance benefits. Full Text…

Proactive conflict management in community groups.

Debra A. Jones, Utah State University Extension.


Handled positively, conflict can be a constructive force, moving a group or organization forward in a positive direction. Handled negatively, conflict can be a destructive force, causing tension and turmoil, resulting in decreased effectiveness and morale. This article discusses positive and negative aspects of conflict, in the context of working with groups such as boards, councils, and committees. Examples are provided to help facilitators and group members recognize dynamics that may be affecting the group, and offer suggestions for handling them. Full Text…

Measuring the impact of youth development programs: A national on-line youth life skills evaluation system.

Claudia C. Mincemoyer, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University, Daniel F. Perkins, Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University.


The National On-line Youth Life Skills Evaluation System allows youth development professionals to effectively design and determine the impact of their educational programs. The evaluation system is intended to disseminate quantitative evaluation tools through a high-quality, cost-effective, user-friendly, web-based system that links research, program design, and evaluation. The evaluation tools were developed using synthesis and meta-analysis of existing research to determine the skill set for each life skill studied. By establishing a national system, Cooperative Extension and other youth-serving organizations will be able to aggregate data at the county, state, and national levels that can show the impact of their youth development programs to various stakeholders. The system was developed jointly by Penn State University and Purdue University with a grant from the American Distance Education Consortium. Full Text…

Building Opportunities: Dressing for Success.

Diana Saiki, Ph.D., Ball State University.


The “business casual” dress trend has led to confusion about what is appropriate to wear to work. Appropriate workplace dress is an important component of career success. Information about workplace dress is not always available to low-income groups. The program “Building Opportunities: Dressing for Success” was developed by university faculty in a small town to teach low-income groups about appropriate workplace dress. The program was conducted in collaboration with WorkOne, an employment service for low-income groups. Participants found the program educational. Furthermore, participant comments provided helpful information about successfully working with this growing population. Full Text…

Sharing the message about early brain development: Georgia’s Better Brains for Babies collaboration.

Diane W. Bales, University of Georgia.


Early brain development is of major interest to parents and professionals who work with young children. Georgia’s Better Brains for Babies initiative was developed to share information about early brain development with a variety of audiences. The initiative is a collaboration of public and private organizations across the state. Extension is playing a significant role in providing research-based content information. Better Brains for Babies educates the public about brain development through a train-the-trainer program and an in-depth web site. Although collaboration can be challenging, the collaborative nature of this effort has enabled Georgia Extension to expand its educational outreach and form partnerships with other organizations. Full Text…



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