Abstracts Spring 2011
July 2011, Vol. 16, No. 1
ISSN 1540 5273
Qualitative program evaluation methods
J. Mitch Vaterlaus, M.S., Brian J. Higginbotham, Ph.D.,
Evaluation is an important component of refining programs and documenting impacts. Evaluation aids the profession as a whole and assists Extension faculty in meeting promotion requirements. Qualitative methods are commonly used in evaluations in order to explore specific facets of programs and to give voice to participants’ experiences. These methods provide in-depth information that can assist Extension faculty in enhancing the quality of their programs. This review highlights differences between quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods. The elements, processes, and limitations of qualitative evaluation methodology are detailed. In addition, specific guidelines are provided for increasing the trustworthiness of qualitative evaluations.
Financial education through social media: Can you evaluate its impact?
Barbara O'Neill, Andrew Zumwalt, , Michael Gutter, Janet Bechman,
This article describes the development and evaluation of a financial education program delivered via social media. The program had four distinct phases: a needs assessment of the sponsor’s capacity for social media outreach, capacity-building training, program implementation and delivery, and impact assessment. This program used a triangulated evaluation methodology with the following evaluation methods used to measure impact: (1) a unique Twitter hashtag (#eXasw), (2) a follow-up online consumer survey, (3) a follow-up online professional participant survey, (4) bit.ly analytics to determine the number of clicks on links embedded in the social media messages, and (5) tracking pre- and post-program Twitter influence metrics of project participants who distributed financial education messages.
Assessment of critical thinking skills in a low-income population: Development of a methodology
Ingrid Karen Richards Adams, Suzanne Hendrich, Cheryl O. Hausafus
Developing critical thinking skills in adults empowers them to make sound decisions. Seventy-one parents in a low-income preschool program took part in a study to develop their critical thinking skills. A two-group (experimental, control) randomized, pretest-posttest design was used. The experimental group participated in two 45-minute sessions about vegetables and physical activity. The development of a methodology to assess critical thinking included a context-specific definition, problem solving, and the use of scenarios. After the intervention, parents in the experimental group showed improvement in problem solving, especially in areas of problem identification, gathering relevant information to solve the problem, and providing solutions to the problem. Little change was seen in areas of providing rationale and judging the soundness of decisions. Interventions of longer duration could lead to a change in these higher levels of critical thinking. The development of critical thinking skills seems plausible in informal educational settings with low-income audiences.
Online Webinars as Tools for Building Extension Evaluation Capacity
Extension professionals who engaged in monthly interactive webinars on program evaluation skills reported gains in knowledge and skills and intentions to apply knowledge, but offered mixed reviews of online delivery. Participant comments affirmed previous research on professionals’ needs for evaluation training, on preferences for online learning, and on the technical and collegial qualities of online learning communities. The webinar series revealed both the limitations of and opportunities for web-based delivery of professional skills and networking. Implications for practice, research, and policy are discussed.
Follow-up evaluation to determine short-term effectiveness of a nutrition education program in a primarily Latino populationDaniel A. McDonald, Rachel Kranch, Nobuko Hongu
The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which skills and behaviors taught during a weekly group nutrition education program were sustained three months after the end of the nutrition lessons. Participants (n=81) were recruited from adult English as a Second Language/English Language Learners classes. Intervention (n=45) and control (n=36) groups were compared. Data were collected using a Food Behavior Checklist. Intervention group participants showed significant change on eight of the eleven behavioral items measured. Skill-based behaviors were more likely to be sustained after the end of the lessons, as opposed to food consumption behaviors.
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