Commitment to Systematic Program Evaluation: A Look at the Cooperative Extension Service

By Jennifer A. Wells-Marshall and David Shannon.

Published by The International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: March 12, 2014 $US5.00

The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is the largest and oldest informal teaching organization in the world. It is a complex multifaceted organization with a unique structure of funding and accountability (Franz and Townson 2008). This study examines program evaluation practices in Cooperative Extension by investigating CES state and county staff’s commitment to systematic evaluation as well as barriers and supports that influence engagement in systematic evaluations. A total of 345 Cooperative Extension Service state and county staff participated in this study via an online survey. Findings from this study suggest that Cooperative Extension Service state and field staff are most committed to using evaluation results, analyzing data, and focusing the evaluation. Likewise findings reveal that communication of information and attitudes and behaviors regarding program evaluation are predictors of an organization -like CES- willingness to engage in or learn about evaluation.

Keywords: Cooperative Extension, Program Evaluation Best Practices, Program Evaluation Barriers, Program Evaluation Supports, Outreach

International Journal of Assessment and Evaluation, Volume 20, Issue 2, March 2014, pp.75-87. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: March 12, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 883.928KB)).

Dr. Jennifer A. Wells-Marshall

State Leader for Program Evaluation, Cooperative Extension Administration, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Auburn University, Al, USA

Jennifer Wells-Marshall is a native of Moss Point, Mississippi. She recieved her Bachelors degree in Psychology from Tuskegee University, her Masters degree in Human Development and Famiy Studies from Auburn University and her PhD in Educational Psychology: Program Evaluation and Assessment from Auburn University. Jennifer has several years experience in the field of program development and evaluation. She has presented seminars regarding successful program implementation and early childhood development in local, state, and national arenas.

Dr. David Shannon

Humana-Germany-Sherman Distinguished Professor, Educational Research and Evaluation, Auburn University, Auburn University, AL, USA

Dr. David Shannon is a Humana-Germany-Sherman Distinguished Professor in the Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership, and Technology. He teaches graduate courses in measurement, evaluation, and statistics. Dr. Shannon's areas of research include student and teacher assessment, teacher effectiveness, and research methodology issues. He is the Past-President for the Eastern Educational Research Association (EERA). He also serves as North American Regional Co-Editor for Educational Research and Evaluation. Dr. Shannon has published four textbooks pertaining to educational assessment, quantitative analysis and using statistical software. In addition, he has published over 50 refereed articles in journals such as the Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Educational and Psychological Measurement, Journal of Experimental Education, Journal of Educational Research and the Journal of Higher Education and over 75 presentations at regional and national venues. Furthermore, he has served as an evaluation coordinator or PI for projects funded for over $150 million, managing evaluation budgets for these projects totaling approximately $5 million. These projects include his role as the evaluation coordinator for the $100 million South Florida Annenberg Challenge, US Department of Education projects (e.g., Teaching American History), NSF-funded projects (e.g., Math/Science Partnerships (MSP), GK12 Fellows, RDE-STEM, and CCLI) and statewide evaluation projects with the Alabama State Department of Education.