The students will:
- summarize how conducting research and evaluation are similar to conducting an investigation.
- identify three reasons why evaluation and research are important within the park and recreation industry.
- identify two CAPRA issues related to evaluation and research.
- describe two benefits of conducting research and evaluation.
Chapter 1 provides an overview of why research and evaluation are important within the park and recreation industry. This chapter reviews driving forces for research and evaluation within the industry, including needs of the society, the community, and the individuals within a community. The chapter also reviews how research and evaluation are necessary not only to assess the needs but also to determine if the needs have been met. The chapter then reviews the benefits of conducting research and evaluation, such as providing evidence of achievements, justifying operations, educating the community leaders, and providing a foundation for decisions. Finally, the chapter touches on the accreditation standards for CAPRA accreditation and professional certification.
To present this information, I would suggest using the PowerPoint presentation and asking the students to provide examples of societal needs, community needs, and individual needs. The trick to getting information from the students is asking the question in terms of their home, community, or the campus. They are experts on what they wish was provided in each area. This links the information to them personally and makes it easier for them to quickly understand the concepts.
Second, provide an example that illustrates each of the reasons why conducting research is important within the field of recreation. Then ask the students to provide examples that show why research is important for answering questions related to program objectives, customers’ needs, and revenues. This is generally a good point to refer back to the students’ classes on leadership or program planning.
Third, review the benefits of conducting research and evaluations, and provide solid examples for each benefit. These examples should be related to your local community, your campus, or the hometowns of students.
The following information can be reviewed with the slide that covers the focus of each area of research and evaluation. These examples are very narrow and are focused on areas or topics that most students can understand and have experienced at some level.
- What is the level of customer satisfaction with the program?
- What program objectives were achieved?
- What are the needs within the community?
- What programs and services are needed to increase minority participation in programs and services?
- What are the national trends in fitness classes? (high-impact aerobics, low-impact aerobics, step, Pilates)
- What benefits related to social skills do the therapeutic programs provide for participants?
Finally, review CAPRA accreditation and professional certification. Cover what CAPRA accreditation is, why agencies pursue it, and why it is important. Finally, touch on how research and evaluation are part of both CAPRA accreditation and professional certification.
The case study in this chapter (which is linked with the Professional Perspective section) is a good topic for discussion in this class or to begin the next class. Discussing the case study is a good way to emphasize the importance of research and evaluation.
You may assign either the exercises for this chapter, the For the Investigator exercise, or both.
The exercises for this chapter require the students to visit the NRPA Web site and learn about the CAPRA accreditation process, to review the scholarly articles noted in the introduction, and to identify how each topic in the articles is important to the field.
Exercise 1.1: CAPRA Accreditation
Go to the National Recreation and Park Association Web site (www.nrpa.org) and find the following information.
1. What is CAPRA accreditation?
2. How many agencies are CAPRA accredited?
3. What is a certified park and recreation professional (CPRP)?
4. When can you become certified, and what do you need to do?
Exercise 1.2: Article Review
Read the two research articles provided to you in class. Then answer the following questions.
1. What is the purpose of the study?
Article 1: The purpose of this study is to examine the influences of some childhood background factors on adult levels of participation in hunting and fishing activities.
Article 2: The purpose of this study is to examine the social world of a regional dance to determine what factors have contributed to the longevity of the dance and the long-term commitment of the participants.
2. How is each topic important to the park and recreation industry?
Article 1: This topic is important because it helps one understand the predictive factors for participation and possible intervening variables to decrease rates of participation.
Article 2: This study can help the professional understand the components of serious leisure and how these types of activities or groups can be integrated into park and recreation programs, clubs, or events.
You have overheard many stay-at-home moms state that they need some sort of group exercise class and a way to connect and communicate with each other. You program a morning aerobics class, but nobody shows up. Similarly, you know there is a need for senior programming, so you create educational and social events that are held in the evenings in your center. These events have very low turnout. What do you think are the issues in each of these scenarios? What may be the missing links in your research or implementation that could make the programs successful?
For the Investigator
The For the Investigator exercise introduces a semester-long research project that can be practiced in every chapter as students learn the steps of the research process. Throughout the course, these exercises provide a common thread to link the content of the chapters from week to week. The project is based on a fictional health and leisure survey that the students conduct. The survey is included, as well as a set of fictional data generated from the survey (in spreadsheet format). The students can take this survey and keep a copy of the instrument to use throughout the course. The data from the class can also be used later in the semester for data analysis and recommendations.
The reference information for the articles used in the exercise is as follows:
(1) Sofranko, A.J., and M.F. Nolan. 2009. Early life experience and adult sports participation. Journal of Leisure Research 41(3): 425-437.
(2) Brown, C.A. 2007. The Carolina shaggers: Dance as serious leisure. Journal of Leisure Research 39(4): 623-647.