Tool 5: Conducting a Materials Search

Once you have established and articulated the need for new curriculum material - and identified your audience and the goals, objectives and learning outcomes - it’s important to "scan the horizon" to see if any material already exists that can fulfill your need. You can use several venues to see what already exists around your curriculum need. (If you identify material that meets your needs, you may decide to halt the curriculum development process at this point and purchase the material.

Resources for Conducting a Curriculum Search

Check with colleagues and professional groups. Consider the networks that exist that you can tap to identify whether appropriate materials exist elsewhere. E-mail your Extension colleagues from around the country and any other professional groups you interact with that may provide educational materials around particular subject areas. Staff from other states and organizations are often very willing to share samples of their materials at no or low costs.

Use the web to access information on curriculum collections or databases. Sample sites include the following:

  • The 4-H Cooperative Curriculum System (CCS)
    This is the Web site for the Cooperative Extension Service’s nationwide 4-H curriculum development system. Curricula listed here are experientially based and are targeted for 4-H and other nonformal national youth development organizations. The site provides up-to-date information on curriculum materials currently available and those in development.
  • The National Agricultural Library’s AGRICOLA (AGRICultural OnLine Access) Database
    This database was created by the National Agricultural Library and its cooperators. It describes publications and resources, dating from the 16th century to the present, whose content includes all aspects of agriculture and its allied disciplines. AGRICOLA is organized in two sections: (1) "Books, etc.," that includes citations for books, audiovisual materials, serial publications, etc.; and (2) "Articles, etc." that contains citations for journal articles, book chapters, reports and reprints. Most of these citations are taken from the materials cataloged in "Books, etc."
    This is an easy-to-use database that contains information on more than 15,000 publications produced by Extension specialists in 13 north central land-grant universities. While written and audiovisual materials are included in the database, software is not. QUERRI is maintained by Information Development - Expanding Awareness (IDEA), which is located at Iowa State University.

Last Updated: July 29, 2009; Last Reviewed: April, 2009
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