Volume 53(4) - 2012 - DOI: 10.5032/jae.2012.04085
Abstract:As states face tough economic times, extension organizations are increasingly emphasizing the importance of evaluation data to show program value. However, little is known about the evaluation skills and abilities of extension professionals expected to collect such data. This knowledge would help inform professional development opportunities designed to target evaluation–related deficiencies. A needs assessment was conducted with Georgia extension professionals to determine the evaluation competencies that provided the greatest opportunity for professional development. Results highlighted competencies within two constructs, analyzing questionnaire data and disseminating evaluation findings, which accounted for seven of the top 10 competencies with the greatest need. The continuing professional development needs of agents varied based on primary program area and experience level, indicating a need for even more targeted continuing professional development. Agents with five or fewer years of experience needed the most professional development in the areas of data collection whereas agents with more experience needed assistance with data analysis and reporting. Continuing professional development to build evaluation competencies in Georgia extension educators should also vary depending on the primary programming responsibilities of the participating extension professional. Although extension professionals with primary responsibilities in Agriculture and Natural Resources needed the most assistance with analyzing questionnaire data, those with primarily 4–H responsibilities needed help disseminating evaluation findings in reports.