Darrell A. Dromgoole, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Danny Nusser, Regional Program Leader for Agriculture and Natural Resources/4-H Youth Development, North Region, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Scott Cummings, Associate Department Head and Program Leader; Professor and Extension Specialist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.
Jayaratne (2016) stated that in general terms Extension educators have a tendency to pay more attention to program planning and delivery than they do to evaluation. This tendency is understandable because the delivery of programs is a very rewarding component and enables Extension educators to interact with clientele. Evaluation of programs is frequently viewed as a cumbersome task of collecting outcome and impact data to demonstrate accountability rather than as a meaningful aspect of programming (Jayaratne, 2016). While it is true that there is an accountability element to evaluation, the primary motivation to evaluate Extension programs is to refocus or redirect programs in the future. If Extension educators effectively evaluate programs the accountability aspect will be accomplished. Incorporating evaluation strategies during the inception of the program planning process will enable Extension educators to be more deliberate in their overall programming efforts with clearly outlined goals and outcomes in terms of knowledge gained, change in behavior, adoption of best practices or new technology.
According to Seevers and Graham (2012), evaluation is a systematic process of determining the worth of a program. Evaluation fits into two main categories as follows (Seevers & Graham, 2012):
Rarely are evaluations strictly summative or formative; their purposes usually overlap and are beneficial in terms of data generated (Seevers & Graham, 2012). Some reasons to utilize summative, formative and both summative and formative evaluations are illustrated in figure 1 (Seevers & Graham, 2012):
Figure 1. Reasons to utilize summative, formative, and both formative and summative evaluations.
Some programs should not be evaluated. Smith (1989) recommended that Extension educators conduct an assessment to determine if an evaluation is an appropriate investment of time and resources. Some reasons not to evaluate a program are as follows (Smith, 1989):
In the future Next Step to Success blogs, we will provide information related to the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s Evaluation model.
Jayaratne. K. (2016). Tool for Formative Evaluation: Gathering the Information Necessary for Program Improvement. Journal of Extension. 54 (1) Article 1TOT2 Retrieved from https://www.joe.org/joe/2016february/tt2.php
Seevers, B., & Graham, D. (2012). Education through Cooperative Extension. (3rd Ed.). Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Bookstore.
Smith, M.F. (1989). Evaluability assessment. Norwell, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.