Conducting Educational Interventions in Diverse Rural Contexts: Issues, Challenges, and Lessons Lear...
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Conducting Educational Interventions in Diverse Rural Contexts: Issues, Challenges, and Lessons Learned . Thomas W. Farmer Pennsylvania State University. Common Issues In Diverse Rural Areas. Educational needs of at-risk youth Issues of critical mass and geographical isolation

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Thomas W. Farmer Pennsylvania State University

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Thomas w farmer pennsylvania state university

Conducting Educational Interventions in Diverse Rural Contexts: Issues, Challenges, and Lessons Learned

Thomas W. Farmer

Pennsylvania State University


Common issues in diverse rural areas

Common Issues In Diverse Rural Areas

  • Educational needs of at-risk youth

  • Issues of critical mass and geographical isolation

  • Limited resources and professional development

  • Commitment to local issues and concept of “place”


Diversity in issues faced by rural areas

Diversity in Issues Faced by Rural Areas

  • Different types of at-risk youth

  • Different school structures and approaches for addressing isolation and issues of critical mass

  • Different levels and configurations of providing supports and professional development

  • Local values, expectations, and support for education differ from community to community


Challenges for developing and evaluating standardized interventions

Challenges for Developing and Evaluating Standardized Interventions

  • Must include universal and targeted interventions that can be adapted to both the general and unique populations of each district while maintaining standardization

  • Must accommodate different configurations of grouping students and supporting teachers while guarding against biases that may be introduced by these differences

  • Intervention must complement existing curricula

  • Must be responsive to the fact that each community views themselves as unique and not fitting a standard curriculum or model of support


Lessons learned rural intervention research

Lessons Learned: Rural Intervention Research

There is more than one “rural”

Intervention design must be responsive to different contexts

Research design can be challenging and identifying comparable sites for randomization is very difficult

Increased research costs

Variability in district and school configurations, critical mass

Isolation increases both staffing and travel costs

“Place” matters

Pride, loyalty, and identity linked to the land or the community

Expectation that curriculum and instruction is linked to place

School is viewed as a primary anchor of the community


General lessons learned developing interventions that can be scaled up

General Lessons Learned: Developing Interventions that can be “Scaled-Up”

Anticipate highly varied contexts in the intervention development phase

Assess the degree to which the intervention is “instruction dependent” and “context dependent”

Instruction (e.g., reading, writing)

Context (e.g., social, behavioral)

Create a delivery format that promotes flexibility and “local tailoring” in preparing teachers for implementation

Directed consultation (standard content and aims)

Embedded in the local curricula and instructional philosophies


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