Volume 52(4) - 2011 - DOI: 10.5032/jae.2011.04044

Abstract:

Extension has enhanced the lives of U.S. citizens through adult education in a myriad of ways. However, as budgets get tighter, accountability becomes increasingly more important. Over the years, Extension has reported low level impacts rather than the long–term successes that those working within the system know are occurring. Without enhanced evaluation–driven environments, Extension systems will continue to inadequately report programmatic successes, resulting in a lower perceived public value of Extension programs. The use of evaluation can create an atmosphere which encourages organizational thinking resulting in the types of accountability reports which are adequate for decision making. This study examined how Extension professionals' perceptions of evaluation use related to their evaluation behaviors. The findings suggest a substantial percentage of Extension professionals are doing just enough evaluation to complete mandatory reports. It also showed that Extension professionals who valued their own personal use, but not necessarily organizational use of their evaluations, were more likely to conduct in–depth evaluations. Recommendations for enhancing evaluation driven work environments include clearer communication from administration demonstrating the value of evaluation beyond the role it plays in accountability and working directly with Extension professionals to promote evaluation–oriented conversations rather than just delivering state–led in–service trainings.
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