[Coral-List] Education...

Christopher Hawkins chwkins at yahoo.com
Tue Apr 11 13:46:50 EDT 2006

.....So, after my rambling, what do YOU think the 
answer to adult outreach & education is...

  Rusty and all:
  I am not sure what the answer is, either.  There certainly isn't one particular one anyway.
  What I do feel, though, is that our education and outreach programs do not take into account any of the concepts and theories that address behavior change (which is one of the stated goals of E&O).  This needs to change.
  For example, we predicate our programs on the model that "if only the public knows what we know, they will change their behavior."  This has been shown to be, at the very least, inadequate, and most of the time, wrong.  It a) assumes that the public doesn't know what we know, and b) that their motivations don't matter.
  My suggestion is that managers that have E&O program get their staffs trained up in some of the social psychology literature, paradigms, and tools that discuss behavior change.  For example, Icek Aizen's Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) illustrates that behavior change is a product not just of information distribution, but also of what others think about the activity and how difficult the activity is to undertake.  Some good work has been done with TPB and recycling.  Another line of research that would be of use to the educator is Cacioppo anfd Petty's Elaboration Likelihood Modeling and central/peripheral routes to persuasion work.  All three authors give some thoughts on operationalizing these concepts.  
  If managers really want to make the most of their E&O program, start by understanding why people do certain things and then the best ways available to effect change.  Homer Simpson may have said it best..."Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand".
  Education is the key?  Perhaps, but not the way we are going about it.   And our E&O staffs are often the ones shortchanged, both in training and in budgets.

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