As state and federal budgets tighten, Extension must be accountable for the use of public funds if it wants to maintain current funding levels. While those working within Extension know the long-term successes of Extension programs, data detailing these are limited. High quality evaluations must be developed to collect the data needed to exhibit public value. One way to encourage the collection of rigorous data is through the use of evaluation. Evaluation use creates an environment that encourages organizational thinking that can result in accountability reports adequate for funding decisions. This study examined how Extension professionals’ engagement in evaluation is related to their perceptions of personal and organizational evaluation use. The findings show that a substantial percentage of Extension professionals are doing just enough evaluation to complete mandatory reports. The results of the study also showed that Extension professionals valued personal use of evaluation data over the organizational use. Extension professionals were more likely to conduct in-depth evaluations when it was used to inform stakeholders or for future programmatic planning than for accountability purposes. Professional development efforts should target the use of evaluation for personal programmatic improvement rather than accountability to encourage participation and evaluation competency development.
Lamm, A. J., & Israel, G. D. (2013). A National Examination of Extension Professionals’ Use of Evaluation: Does Intended Use Improve Effort?. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension, 1(1), 4. https://scholarsjunction.msstate.edu/jhse/vol1/iss1/4
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