Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications

Major Professor

Jennifer K. Richards

Committee Members

Gary J. Skolits, Carrie A. Stephens


Tennessee 4-H Youth Development (TN 4-H) is one of the largest youth development programs in the state, serving over 130,916 youth in 2016. Leadership is one of the 28 project areas included in the TN 4-H program. In 2016, TN 4-H began the process of restructuring and redesigning the way project areas were conceived. TN 4-H Leadership project outcomes and indicators were developed and approved for use by extension agents, regional program leaders, and state 4-H staff. These outcomes guided the development of the TN 4-H Beginning Leadership curriculum to replace older project materials published in 2002 and 2005.The objective of this study was to establish the validity of the new beginning level Leadership curriculum for the TN 4-H Program. The study was designed as a developmental evaluation that aimed to address three evaluation questions. Data was collected from multiple sources, including a focus group, statistical data from a pre-post test, work samples from students completing the curriculum, and expert reviews of both learning outcomes and the curriculum. Results indicate that key stakeholders indicated that the curriculum would be easy to implement in county programs and that they perceived that students would have an increase in knowledge and skills and changes in dispositions after completing the curriculum. Experts in the fields of youth development, adolescent education, and leadership indicated that the curriculum models best practices in education and youth development, and provides research-based education on leadership concepts. Statistical data indicated that the curriculum was effective at educating students on terms and skills related to leadership. Review of work samples supported these findings, but also showed that students had mastered concepts that were not reflected in statistical significance from the pre-post test. The evaluation resulted in the identification of portions of the curriculum and instruments that need to be revised, along with providing recommendations for the validation of project curriculum for TN 4-H in the future.

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