Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Agricultural and Extension Education

Major Professor

Robert S. Dotson

Committee Members

Etta Mae Westbrook, Cecil E. Carter


This was a benchmark study to determine and classify characteristics of certain program assistants in Tennessee. A questionnaire was developed to secure personal and job related information, and to study attitudes toward the job and toward inservice training received from EFNEP agents, to probe use of approved program assistant practices, and to determine how much help program assistants felt they needed in order to do an adequate (professional) job. The questionnaire was sent to all EFNEP agents in six selected counties to be administered at a regular inservice training meeting. Thirty-six assistants responded com-pletely. Results of the study indicated that program assistants liked their jobs, felt inservice training received from their EFNEP agents was adequate, believed they used most approved program assistant practices and felt they needed relatively little help in doing an adequate job as program assistant. The typical program assistant was about 48 years old, had completed 11.1 grades in school and was married. Average age of her children was 21 years. Her average annual income was about $7,727, 55 percent of which was from her husband's wages and received on a biweekly basis. She owned her own home and lived either on a farm or in a rural nonfarm area. Before becoming a program assistant, the typical program assistant had worked an average of 11 years, either in a factory or as a secretary, but had worked as a program assis-tant for 2.8 years. Since becoming a program assistant, she had worked with 94 families and lived about 8.6 miles from them. She had worked with 59 families and had graduated 17 families from the program. In 1974, at the time of the study, she had worked with 49 families and made 60 visits each month. She worked about 23 hours per week. Before becoming a program assistant, the typical assistant had received some type of training in nutrition, in high school home economics classes. Orientation training which she received lasted about 3 weeks and included which families with which to work, how to work with families, and what to teach them, she also received inservice training on a regular weekly basis, which included nutrition lessons and filling out reports. She read nutrition-related maga-zines and books to keep informed about nutrition. EFNEP had been of benefit to her as well as to her program families—she had made new friends and gained a greater understanding of people, she had made changes in her own homemaking practices which included serving more nutritious meals and began planning meals. She also enjoyed her work. Data were compared according to counties and high and low performance groups. Considerable variation was noted between and among counties. Other high and low performance groups were compared; the former were found to be somewhat younger, better educated, wealthier, less experienced in the work area, more experienced as assistants, to have worked with more families and made more visits. Recommendations were made for further study.

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