Volume 52(4) - 2011 - DOI: 10.5032/jae.2011.04136
The majority of funding for Extension comes from local, state, and federal dollars; therefore the primary driver for evaluation is accountability for public funds. Evaluation has always been a part of Extension program implementation; however, these efforts have historically been considered a necessary component rather than a priority. The need for Extension to demonstrate public value is increasing due to county and state budget cuts. The ability to provide credible information depends primarily on the evaluation activities of Extension professionals. The purpose of this research was to use an organizational framework to examine how organizational evaluation structures influenced evaluation behaviors of Extension professionals. A survey was used to collect data from Extension professionals in eight state Extension systems to examine how their perceptions of specific organizational and individual evaluation factors influenced their engagement in evaluation behaviors. The results show changes at multiple levels within an Extension system can be used to predict behavior. Extension leaders can impact the level at which programs are evaluated by making changes to their own behavior and establishing a social culture that is more supportive of evaluation. In addition, an emphasis on evaluation skill development for Extension professionals is needed.