AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



Samantha Grant on Getting Program Staff Invested in Evaluation

Hi, I’m Samantha Grant, and I work for the University of Minnesota Extension as a Program Evaluator for the Center for Youth Development.

As evaluators, incorporating evaluation into a program is as natural as breathing but for program-focused individuals, it is often the last, painful thought. In my work I have tried to show the benefit and ease of building evaluation into your program from the design stage. In doing this, I’ve learned a couple of lessons.

Hot Tip- Know your Resources: Connecting program staff to good, quick trainings is key. A favorite of mine is the Enhancing Program Performance with Logic Models course from the University of Wisconsin Extension. I use this with teams who are building or improving logic models and also for groups that need help with crafting outcomes and indicators.

Hot Tip- Build on Strengths: It’s always more fun to do what you’re good at. Showing program staff that they naturally think and act like evaluators helps them to start the process with a good attitude. Program staff naturally are observing, assessing, and adapting their programs, so use these skills to inform your evaluation. Ask program staff to tell you what they see inside their programs and what changes they have made.

Hot Tip- Incorporate the Population You Serve: I do much of my work with colleagues from the 4-H program. Talking about evaluation can seem painful until I bring up the idea of incorporating youth. My colleagues will actively participate when they know that an evaluation is helping to build youth- adult partnerships and give youth voice in the program.

Hot Tip- Make Reflection Evaluation: Evaluation doesn’t always have to be a survey implemented at the end of a program. Evaluations that become part of the program are often some of the most useful for my coworkers. Create evaluation questions that can be built into a reflection activity. The University of Minnesota Extension Youth Work Institute has a great resource on reflection. Use these strategies to gather evaluation data.

How do you help others incorporate evaluation into their program design?

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