Solving Problems, Ensuring Relevance, and Facilitating Change: The Evolution of Needs Assessment Within Cooperative Extension
Helping people solve the practical problems of everyday life while maintaining contemporary relevance describes the mission of Cooperative Extension. To achieve that mission, Extension professionals have increasingly relied on information gathered from stakeholders to identify relevant problems and potential educational solutions. The methods, efforts, and activities to understand people and their problems are collectively referred to as needs assessment. This article explores the history and evolution of needs assessment in Cooperative Extension, as well as in a broader educational context. While tracing needs assessment through the decades, this article examines the needs assessment opportunities and challenges faced by Cooperative Extension. Emerging trends and implications for the future of Extension needs assessment are also discussed.
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