Our Definition of Evaluation
Evaluation is a process to bring information to bear on decisions about programs . . . where decisions can be process-oriented (how the program was implemented) or results oriented (did the program affect participant reactions or produce client change).
Organizational Development adopted this simple and practical definition of evaluation for Extension work from Dr. Michael Lambur, former eXtension Evaluation and Research Leader, in his Communities of Practice Evaluation Guide. This definition covers all types of evaluation efforts associated with Extension programs from needs assessments to long-term impact studies.
Our Vision for Evaluation
For Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – at all levels – to understand, value, and practically implement excellence in evaluation for accountability, planning, program improvement, and interpretation purposes.
Our Model of Evaluation
Our model of evaluation can be viewed on two levels. On one level, evaluation is integrated into our agency’s larger program development model. On another level, the types and timing of client changes associated with Extension work fit well under Kirkpatrick’s Evaluation Model.
Kirkpatrick’s four levels of evaluation (and our agency equivalent in parentheses) are:
- Level 4 – Results (long-term programmatic impact)
- Level 3 – Behavior (behavior change, adoption of best practice or new technology)
- Level 2 – Learning (knowledge gain, skills acquisition, attitude change)
- Level 1 – Participant Reaction (customer satisfaction)
Our Reasons to Evaluate Programs
As Extension educators, we evaluate our programs to. . .
Demonstrate something (summative evaluation):
- determine if a program has achieved its objectives (effectiveness)
- know how lives were changed (impact)
- estimate the economic impact of a program
- report to stakeholders (accountability)
- report to management (performance appraisal)
- help direct programming efforts on a larger scale (coordination)
- use results in marketing the program (promotion)
- be equipped to advocate for a program or intervention
To improve something (formative evaluation):
- fine-tune the design and implementation of a program in its initial phases
- modify programs that are not working according to plan or take advantage of something that is working exceptionally well (improvement)
- identify opportunities and develop new efforts
- improve efficiency
- be encouraged and further motivated to continue excellence in programming
Our collaborative efforts can be found in these areas:
- Involvement with the Southern Region Program Leadership Network (Program & Staff Development Committee)
- Involvement with the Extension Education Topical Interest Group of the American Evaluation Association
- Collaboration with faculty within our home department – Texas A&M University’s Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications