Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Agricultural and Biological Engineering

Committee Chair

William E. Field

Committee Member 1

Brian F. French

Committee Member 2

Albert Heber

Committee Member 3

Roger Tormoehlen

Committee Member 4

Mark A. Tucker


Research was conducted on the development, testing, and implementation of an original, evidence-based curriculum (Against the Grain) designed to reduce the frequency and severity of the most frequent types of injuries and fatalities involving young and beginning workers, ages 14-20, at grain storage and handling operations. This population has historically accounted for approximately 24% of documented entrapments, engulfments, asphyxiations, entanglements, falls, and electrocutions associated with grain handling and storage. This includes incidents during both workrelated and non-work or recreational activities. Curriculum contents were based upon data summarized from Purdue’s Agricultural Confined Spaces Incident Database (PACSID), review of relevant injury prevention research, related educational resources and standards, and the provisions of applicable federal workplace safety and health regulations. A standard curriculum development model (DACUM) was used to design the tested curriculum that includes supporting instructional resources and five PowerPointbased lessons. The process identified 27 prioritized learning outcomes upon which the curriculum was based. Contents were tested using sound educational measurement methods including pre- and post-testing, instructor evaluation and participant follow-up assessments. Three educational delivery techniques were utilized for implementation and testing: 1) face to face secondary classroom instruction, 2) face-to-face instruction in informal, out of school or workplace settings, and 3) webinar-based instruction. An independent online instruction option was explored, but not implemented or assessed. The curriculum contents were reviewed and approved by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the provisions of the Susan Harwood Training Program. The economic viability or sustainability of each delivery strategy was considered and recommendations made. Findings indicate that the Against the Grain curriculum, as currently available at (, resulted in significant increases in knowledge gain regarding the hazards related to grain storage and handling when presented to secondary-school agricultural education and post-secondary-school agriculture students using face-to-face based instruction. Although students enrolled in secondary-school education programs received lower average pre-test scores, they still showed, as anticipated, greater knowledge gain compared to the post-secondary-school students who completed the training. There was a 31.4% increase in post-test scores received by secondary-school agricultural students, and an 8% increase in post-test scores documented from post-secondary school agricultural students. Initial findings also indicated that the target audiences were more familiar with the hazards associated with grain storage and handling than originally expected, leading to revision of the curriculum contents and test questions. To date, approximately 4,000 young and beginning workers have been exposed to the curriculum and over 1,141 educators have accessed the curriculum contents at the project website. In the year of 2017, additional 670 page views were added to the project website. It was recommended that the curriculum be nationally promoted, that additional curriculum improvement could include updating visuals to more accurately reflect current practices in the grain industry, further alignment with agricultural education standards including both Agricultural, Forestry and National Resources (AFNR) and individual state standards, and adding the five grain safety lessons to the Purdue University developed Gearing Up for Safety curriculum for youth employed in agriculture to increase the scope and utilization of the curriculum.