Program Planning, Evaluation, and Reporting

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Program Planning, Evaluation, and Reporting

Program Planning

NDSU Extension provides education to North Dakota citizens in the areas of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Family and Community Wellness, and 4-H Youth Development.

A program development process is used to systematically plan, implement, evaluate and report educational programs. Programs are coordinated within ten teams. Teams may change as needs and issues emerge.

Ten program teams

  1. 4-H Youth Development
  2. Crop Management
  3. Farm Business Management
  4. Horticulture and Forestry
  5. Human Development and Family Science
  6. Leadership and Civic Engagement
  7. Livestock Management
  8. Natural Resource Management
  9. Nutrition, Food Safety and Health
  10. Personal and Family Finance

NDSU Extension approaches all educational programs by examining how it fits into the transformational model. The goal of Extension programs is more than providing current information. Facilitation of learning, content transmission of critical science-based education, and transforming a learner’s behavior are all parts of the model that help to describe the role of Extension. And in the end, a strong program evaluation will help to show that you are making a difference in the lives of your participants.

For a brief overview of this model and process, review this webinar recording: (The one from the s drive-SE district meeting)

1.  Planning/Implementing effective programs requires (1) needs assessment, (2) program review/development, and (3) evaluation/reporting.

Needs Assessment: The concept of ‘needs’ is defined as the difference, or gap, between what is, and what should be or what is reasonably possible.

Gap 

Needs assessment can be done with formal and informal processes.

  • Formal needs assessments are done when you want to find out what is going on. An example of a formal needs assessment is the program planning process in extension. This process takes time to gather information and ideas before making a plan.
  • Informal needs assessments are done “on the fly” or “just in time”. Some examples of informal needs assessments include critical incident needs assessment, when the need is immediate and there isn’t time to conduct a more formal needs assessment.

As an educator, you are responsible for accurately assessing the needs of your clientele in collaboration with targeted audiences and community leaders. In developing your educational strategies, you should take into account both the observed and expressed needs. You can gather input by directly asking stakeholders, or by reviewing secondary data that has already been collected.

What are some examples of secondary data?           

  • The Community Assessment process conducted in 2015 was a broad effort to look at overall program needs of North Dakota citizens.
  • North Dakota Compass has a community profile for each legislative district and a county profile for each county that provides information to support overall program decisions.
  • A school or hospital produces assessments of their service areas and plans for improvement. Educational programs needed are often identified in these reports.
  • Commodity groups, crop improvement associations, AARP, Youth organizations and other entities in your county/community produce reports and conduct listening sessions to identify needs. As partners with these entities, you will have access to this information.

Program Review/Development

When you have determined the program need, the next step is to review existing resources to find materials that can help provide the appropriate educational delivery for the target audience. Is there a ready-to-go lesson available from a specialist or another state’s specialists? Is there an evidence-based curriculum that you can use to design a series of sessions? Is there an online webinar you can use on social media?  Can you use a publication as the basis for a radio interview?

Or does the identified issue require a program team to develop a new resource or adapt an existing resource to address the concern?  If this is the case, take your ideas to the program planning team chair and ask for the team to consider this as a priority.

Talk to other Extension agents who may have a need to address the same issue. Ask specialists for the best resources available. Others can contribute to the review and you will have a strong justification for a request to make this topic a priority.

Extension programming most often is categorized as follows:  Signature, Core or Pilot Programs (defined below)

Signature Programs are comprehensive programs (lesson plan, delivery tool, participant handout) that address a priority issue. Criteria include: involves collaborative effort between specialists and agents where agents have an active delivery role (beyond hosting event), addresses priority issues, can be offered in multiple locations in the state or targeted areas as appropriate (i.e., canola production areas), includes evaluation plan/tool at level 2-3-4 and provides data to produce an Impact Statement posted at completion of program.

Core and Pilot Programs may serve specific sectors of the state or may reflect statewide mandates such as pesticide training, or state contracts such as nutrition education for limited resource audiences. They may also be the beginning of a future signature program—for example, collecting survey data and crop samples to develop a more comprehensive report and educational program the following year. Pilot programs are emerging programs in targeted sites that require time to test, improve and evaluate before they become core or signature program.

Team membership is determined between the Extension agent and their district director. During the first year of employment most agents do not serve on a team. When they are ready, they may serve on up to two teams. Membership implies you will contribute to the development of the team programs and evaluations. You may serve as a reviewer for a new publication or be a pilot site for a new program. Specialists are automatically on the teams that relate to their subject expertise. It is their job to find or create the most current, evidence-based materials and programs foragents to use in delivering educational programs for priority needs as identified by each team.

Is there a tool to help guide me as I develop a local program with the strongest communications plan possible?  Yes

Use the “Steps to Planning Extension Educational Programs” to plan strong and measurable objectives, which leads to strong evaluations and effective programs.

Don’t forget to use a communications approach that yields strong outcomes.

Watch these videos from Virtual Communications Camp to review key information:

Communication Planning: Goals (5:50)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BeF0T2B9Bg

Communication Planning: Target Audience (5:36)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=whU0L7F2bpQ

Communication Planning: Key Messages (5:33)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAzWBadg23Y

Communication Planning: User Scenarios (9:08)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZMOpCU2HnI


2.   
Evaluation

Evaluation is not optional—it is the basis for making strong impact statements. Stakeholders want to know, “What difference are you making?”

Evaluation plans are made as you plan the program. Evaluation is not an after-thought. When good data is collected, you can write an Impact Statement that tells funders what you did, why you did it, and what difference it made in the lives of constituents. All Extension signature programs must have strong evaluation components and plans for reporting results and letting citizens know the private and public value of your programs is the final step.

NDSU Extension has adopted the Kirkpatrick Model as the framework for evaluating programs. Agents and Specialists are required to teach and evaluate at least one educational program during the year. Evaluation can be done using a tool provided with the curriculum or designed using information on this site. Specific subject matter evaluation tools designed for signature programs are available on the each Program Team website.

Evaluation - Kirkpatrick Model: 4 levels of Evaluation

Sample Questions for Each Level

As you think about what was accomplished over the course of your program, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is different because of what was done or what happened as a result of the program delivered?
  • What did this activity do for the community's economy?
  • What anecdotal evidence was collected?
  • What examples exist of the effects of the program?
  • What evidence could be or was collected to document impact?

3.  Reporting

Everyone is required to submit QPE numbers into PEARS and to submit at least one Impact Statement annually, documenting the results of a major program delivered in which you had a teaching role. This Impact Statement should be based on a program that was evaluated at a 2.5 level or above.

You cannot write an Impact Statement without evaluation data.

Evaluation plans are made as you plan the program. When good data is collected, you can write an Impact Statement that tells funders what you did, why you did it, and what difference it made in the lives of constituents. All Extension signature programs have evaluation tools available for your use. Reporting results and letting citizens know the private and public value of your programs is very important.

An Impact Statement is a brief summary, in ordinary language, of the economic, environmental or social results of educational efforts. It states accomplishments and their payoff to clientele/society. An impact statement answers the questions: So what? Who cares? What difference did it make?

As you think about what was accomplished over the course of your program, ask yourself these questions:

  • What is different because of what was done or what happened as a result of the program delivered?
  • What did this activity do for the community's economy?
  • What anecdotal evidence was collected?
  • What examples exist of the effects of the program?
  • What evidence could be or was collected to document impact?

Impact Statements – FAQ and Public and Private Value

 

County Narratives

Extension agents at the county level are required to submit County Narratives to their County Commissioners. Each county has different quantity and timing expectations, but the format for writing the county narratives remains the same. Specialists based in academic departments should become aware of the departmental reporting expectations.

County Narrative guidelines

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