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Effects of pre-testing commercial pesticide applicators prior to engaging in a short adult education activity Hlatky, Robert M.

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to determine the relationships of participant socio-economic characteristics to the post-test, to investigate the effects of pre-testing in a short-term adult education programme, and to assess the influence of pre-course utilization of the handbooks on pre-test and post-test scores. The study was carried out on a group of 324 commercial pesticide applicators who attended 16 individual short courses conducted in 1972 by the British Columbia Department of Agriculture as a means of upgrading the participants' knowledge of the safe and proper uses of pesticides. The design used was a modification of the pre-test/post-test control group type with 135 individuals assigned to the treatment condition and 189 assigned to the control. Three hypotheses were tested in the study. The hypothesis of primary concern attempted to determine whether pre-testing the participants significantly improved their post-test scores. A second hypothesis was tested to determine whether a relationship existed between the socio-economic variables and the post-test scores. A final hypothesis was tested to determine whether the intensity of pre-course handbook utilization significantly influenced pre-test and post-test mean scores. No differential effect due to significant treatment-control differences were observed in the variables: area of origin of participants, proportion of salary earned from pesticide application, previous attendance at BCDA sponsored short courses, previous attendance at related, non-BCDA short courses, and number of pesticide application certificates held. The control group were of significantly higher age, had a longer period of residence in Canada, and had more experience as pesticide applicators than the treatment group. The effects of each of these characteristics upon the post-test was negligible because of their low individual correlation with the post-test scores. The three variables; previous attendance at BCDA sponsored short courses, previous attendance at related non-BCDA short courses, and number of pesticide application certificates held, exhibited a significantly high degree of mutual inter-correlation. This indicated the variables were measuring a common factor such as a need to participate. Both educational level and pre-test scores significantly influenced the post-test mean score although the influence of the latter was definitely more pronounced. The intensity of handbook utilization positively influenced only the post-test mean score of those participants who received no pre-test. This indicated the pre-test was a better means of improving the post-test mean score than pre-course distribution of the handbooks.

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