Developing an evaluation strategy is sometimes an overwhelming task. Fortunately, for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension faculty, there is assistance and resources that will provide assistance in navigating the evaluation process. The first step is deciding whether or not to use scan forms for data collection. The contrast in evaluation methods is summarized below:
Evaluation Using Scan Forms: this is a popular, convenient way to collect data in which many of the operational steps involved in the evaluation are performed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Organizational Development unit. It involves just a few steps – selecting a scan form, making copies, and submitting completed forms to Organization Development. Results are sent to Extension educators a few weeks later. Counties that are required submit to customer satisfaction data should use a scan form to meet that requirement for at least one activity per fiscal year.
When utilizing scan forms educators may search the library of scan forms which is categorized by content. An example of an Agriculture and Natural Resource evaluation using scan forms is the North Region’s Premier Program suites and Family and Community Health has many evaluations to assist County Extension Agent-Family and Community Health at Family and Community Health Agent only site. An example of scan forms for 4-H and youth is the Path to Plate Youth Expo.
All scan forms have specific print and copy requirements and a process that must be followed. Take the time to review the basic instructions on how to use scan forms BEFORE using them.
Evaluation Not Using Scan Forms: this involves designing and implementing an evaluation without the use of scan forms. This is appropriate if agents didn’t find a scan form that met their needs or if there are specific data collection requirements in terms of strategy, target audience, questions, format, length, etc. that need to be customized. Data collection under these circumstances typically involves the use of Qualtrics for web surveys, non-scan form paper surveys, or non-survey methods such as observation, records review, etc.
Figure 1 provides a graphic illustration of the contrast between using scan forms as opposed to not using scan forms, available options and what to anticipate utilizing each course of action:
Figure 2 below provides an overview of evaluating Extension programs (client changes, data collection, etc.) – divided by the timing of evaluation. It shows that scan forms are used at the conclusion of a program. Client changes and other metrics can be measured by scan forms are highlighted in red.
Agents may determine that a scan form is not appropriate for their intended audience or program. Or perhaps agents were unable to find a scan form that meets their needs. Whatever the reason, conducting evaluations not using scan forms is valid and appropriate in some situations.
When not using scam forms agents have total freedom to design and implement the evaluation to best meet their needs, and Regional Program Leaders and Organization Development are available to advise and assist in every step of the process. Below are some of the suggested basic steps agents need to perform, along with some suggested resources:
Developing a quality survey can be an intimidating process. Surveys should be as short, simple and straightforward as possible while still enabling the agent to collect the information needed. It is suggested to have multiple individuals review the survey for length, clarity, and pilot test the survey. Agents should review the publication Questionnaire Design: Asking Questions with a Purpose.
In future Next Step to Success blog, we will continue discussion regarding elements of evaluation.